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Behind Icon of the Seas and the AquaDome Lift

13 Nov 2023
Elizabeth Wright

The AquaDome's completion was one of the biggest milestones of Icon of the Seas' construction. 


"I think it's been an amazing journey for so many of the engineers and architects and designers that we were able to produce this...I think it's testimony to the innovation and creativity of the teams," said Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO. 

Encompassing more than 33,000 square meters and extending from Deck 14 to 20, the AquaDome neighborhood is truly one-of-a-kind. 


It took the team eight months to assemble the dome. Rather than work on it at the Meyer Turku shipyard, the dome was built off-site, so the forward of the ship could be completed simultaneously. 

The 367-ton AquaDome is comprised of 12 different modules that are made of steel, glass, and aluminum panels and took eight months to finish. 


54 cables were required to lift and attach the AquaDome to the spreader and an additional 12 to attach the dome back up to the crane. It was imperative that the crane operator place the dome in the precise location. 

Part of the process was also assigning an entire team just to monitor the weather! 


"All that hard work just came together," said Ellinoora Leino-Richert, AquaDome Project Manager at Meyer Turku.

"That's why all the tears [are] in my eyes and the incredible feeling that, 'Wow, we did it together.'"


The AquaDome is not only the jewel of the front of the ship, it's also a dedicated neighborhood for guests onboard to explore

Icon of the Seas front render

The AquaDome won't just be home to the largest AquaTheater and waterfall at sea. During the day, it will be a relaxed place where guests can grab a bite to eat at the AquaDome Market, Royal Caribbean's first-ever food hall, or take in the 220-degree, wraparound ocean views.

You can also splurge on a specialty dining experience at Hooked Seafood or sip on a hand-crafted cocktail from Rye & Bean. 


At night, it will transform into a vibrant entertainment hub. There will be two different shows offers at the AquaTheater: Aqua Action! and Pirates vs. Mermaids.

You can think of Aqua Action! like an extreme sports show that will be action-packed. According to Nick Weir, Senior Vice President of Royal Entertainment & Royal Caribbean Productions, it's as close as you can get to a multi-million dollar action movie done live. 

Pirates vs Mermaids

It will incorporate Olympic-level high divers, skateboarders, aerialists, slackliners and synchronized swimmers. Additionally, the AquaTheater will feature brand-new technology, such as a double 3D flying system and robots doubling as diving boards and set creators.

Pirates vs. Mermaids is exactly what it sounds like. This family-friendly show will feature fun costumes and jokes for the parents. 

RelatedRoyal Caribbean unveils blockbuster show and entertainment lineup for Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas just finished her second round of sea trials, meaning she is one step closer to being delivered to Royal Caribbean


Icon of the Seas departed from Meyer Turku on October 29 for an eight-day stint at sea where the ship's noise, vibration, speed, fin stabilizers, automation, and main engine adjustments were formally tested.

"Building this ship is a challenging project, but I am proud of the shipyard workers and the fact that it is possible to build such a ship here at the Turku shipyard," said Tim Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku in an interview given to YLE, Finland's national public broadcasting company.  


Even though Icon of the Seas is over 90% complete, there are some fome final touches that need to be made before she can be officially handed over to Royal Caribbean. 

Sorrento's pizza on Royal Caribbean cruise ships

13 Nov 2023
Deanna Termyna

On a Royal Caribbean cruise, the excitement doesn't only unfold in the vast ocean views or the thrilling onboard activities—it's also found in the delicious and convenient dining options. One such gem is Sorrento's Pizza, a grab-and-go style restaurant perfect for pizza lovers seeking a quick and satisfying bite.

Who doesn’t love a free slice of pizza?! You will find this great pizza at Sorrento’s Pizza on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. 

Location and atmosphere

Serving area

Depending on which cruise ship you're sailing on, the location (and even name) of Sorrento's may vary.

Sorrento's restaurant is strategically placed in a central and easily accessible location on Royal Caribbean ships.

On many ships, it's nestled on the Royal Promenade, and it serves as a pitstop for cruisers on the move. On Voyager Class ships, Sorrento's pizza is part of Cafe Promenade.

Pepperoni pizza

On some older ships like Radiance and Vision class ships, you'll find it located in Park Cafe.

Whether you're in the mood for a speedy lunch between activities or a late-night snack after a show, Sorrento's is there to cater to your cravings, the casual atmosphere sets the stage for a laid-back dining experience.

You simply need to find the Sorrento's, get in line, order at the counter, and then you will be handed your pizza on a plate!

Sorrento's Pizza on Allure of the Seas

You have the option to dine in and grab a table after using the walk-up counter to order your pizza or you can take the food to go and enjoy your pizza elsewhere on the ship. 

At the end of the counter, they will have condiments like ketchup, ranch, red pepper flakes, and parmesan.

Beverages, including sodas and alcoholic drinks, are available for purchase.

Additionally, within the restaurant, a complimentary water station is conveniently provided.


Sorrento's Pizza on Oasis Class ship

Sorrento's expansive operating hours are an enticing feature for many guests. Sorrento’s is open almost all day with a constant but quick line that ensures you are getting fresh pizza all day long.

While encountering no line at Sorrento's is a rarity, fear not – their efficient system ensures a quicker experience than it might initially appear. Sorrento's operates from 11:00 am to 3:00 am on average, though specific times may vary, so be sure to check your cruise app for the exact hours during your voyage.


Three slices of pizza

Sorrento’s Pizza does not have a set everyday menu, so you can expect some level of variety

While the classic cheese and pepperoni pizzas remain constants offered everyday, the offerings vary daily. Indulge in a rotation of options, from the carnivore pizza loaded with meat, to the refreshing veggie, smoky BBQ, exotic Caribbean Dream, classic Margarita, and more. Each day brings a delightful surprise for pizza lovers.

Sorrento's also offers some antipasti options, you will see complimentary options like seasoned cheese, salami, olives, artichokes, grilled vegetables, and mussels (excluding oasis and allure for the antipasti options).


You can also find the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine at Sorrento's, which you will need to purchase a soda cup to use. You do receive a soda cup with a drinking package so be sure to grab one.

Tip: Customize your experience by ordering a whole pizza tailored to your personal preferences for yourself or your family, complete with the toppings of your choice. They can cater to gluten-free, or vegan options.

If you want a gluten-free pizza, you just need to ask. There's no charge for it.


Sorrento's Pizza on Harmony of the Seas

Every food item at Sorrento’s is included in your cruise fare.

You do not need to use your SeaPass card unless you order a soda or alcoholic beverage. 

Royal Caribbean ships with a Sorrento's location


You'll find pizza available on every Royal Caribbean ship, but only some cruise ships have a dedicated Sorrento's location.

  • Allure of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Wonder of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Odyssey of the Seas
  • Spectrum of the Seas

Sorrento's will also be on new ships Icon, Star, and Utopia of the Seas.

Sorrento’s is one of Royal Caribbean's most popular restaurants. With its central location and delicious pizza, Sorrento's quick service pizza is a convenient and delightful choice for cruisers.

So, the next time hunger strikes, make a beeline for Sorrento's Pizza and savor the convenience and deliciousness that comes with every slice. 

How much is a Royal Caribbean drink package?

13 Nov 2023
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has three drink packages, as well a couple of drink bundles you can buy for your cruise.

Drink package and their cost

Getting unlimited drinks on a cruise is a very appealing option, given how many people that go on a cruise ship are looking to relax and not worry about bar bills later on. 

They're a popular choice because you can enjoy beers, wine, cocktails, mocktails, and soft drinks for a fixed price, but they aren't cheap either. Demand for drink packages has only sent prices higher over the years, but there are ways to get a better price and ensure you don't overpay.

It's important to understand what the drink package includes for the price, and how to get the best possible deal by finding the lowest prices.

Royal Caribbean drink package prices

Fun times on a cruise

Royal Caribbean uses variable pricing for its unlimited drink packages, which means the price will depend on which ship you are sailing on and the sail date.

In general, newer ships have higher prices for drink packages.  Similarly, cruises over a major holiday and/or during a popular time of year for vacations will see higher prices.

  • Deluxe Beverage Package: $55 to $105 per person per day
  • Royal Refreshment Package: $29 per person per day
  • Soda Package: $12.99 per person per day
  • Water Package: 12 bottles for $39; 24 bottles for $69
  • Coffee card: $31 per card

There is also a mandatory 18% gratuity added to the cost of a drink package, which you will see referred to as a service fee when purchasing it.  This gratuity covers any drink you order from a waiter or bartender.

Two cocktails

By far, the price of the Deluxe Beverage Package has the widest range of possible prices.  That is largely due to how popular this drink package has become, and with so many different cruises to choose from, the cruise line plays with the price to get top dollar for it.

What is a drink package?


Royal Caribbean has two types of drink packages: unlimited packages and prepaid limited amounts.

The most popular are the unlimited drink packages, which offer a flat cost for as many beverages as a passenger would like in one cruise.

The unlimited drink package benefits are only for the person buying it, and it cannot be shared with anyone else.

The three unlimited drink packages include:

Deluxe Beverage Package

Deluxe Beverage Package

The Deluxe Beverage Package includes all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks per person for the entire duration of a cruise.

It includes:

✅Cocktails, spirits, liqueurs
✅Wine (by the glass)
✅Premium coffees & teas
✅Fountain sodas / Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages
✅Coca-Cola souvenir cup
✅Bottled still and sparkling water
✅Fresh squeezed juices

The only drinks not included in the Deluxe Beverage Package are top shelf liquors, wine by the bottle, or Starbucks drinks from a Starbucks kiosk.

Since it includes pretty much every drink, it's also the most expensive package and is the only one that has a rule that requires if one adult buys the Deluxe Beverage Package, then all the other adults in the same stateroom must purchase it also. This is to prevent sharing the drink package benefits with other guests.

There is a workaround to this rule, if you call Royal Caribbean and ask for the other person in the cabin to get the Royal Refreshment package instead.  

Royal Refreshment Package

Royal Caribbean Refreshment Package

If you prefer to have unlimited non-alcoholic drinks, then the Royal Refreshment Package is for you.

It includes everything the Deluxe Beverage Package includes, except for alcohol.

❌Cocktails, spirits, liqueurs
❌Wine (by the glass)
✅Premium coffees & teas
✅Fountain sodas / Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages
✅Coca-Cola souvenir cup
✅Bottled still and sparkling water
✅Fresh squeezed juices

This drink package is popular with teens, as well as light drinkers.

Soda Package

For anyone that just wants soft drinks, Royal Caribbean has an unlimited soda package.

This package includes just soft drinks by the glass from any bar, restaurant or lounge.  It also includes the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine on ships that have it.

❌Cocktails, spirits, liqueurs
❌Wine (by the glass)
❌Premium coffees & teas
✅Fountain sodas / Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages
✅Coca-Cola souvenir cup
❌Bottled still and sparkling water
❌Fresh squeezed juices

It may be a surprise to hear the soda package does not include bottled water.

Bottled water package

Bottles of water

While not unlimited, there is the option to buy a supply of 12 or 24 bottles of Evian water to be delivered to your stateroom.

For someone that prefers bottled water, this is a more cost effective way to have lots of bottled water for a cruise with the convenience of having it delivered to the cabin.

Another advantage of the bottled water package is you can share the bottles of water with anyone.

Coffee punch card

Cafe Select Card

If you love coffee, you can get a punch card good for that sailing with a set amount of premium coffee based drinks.

You can redeem the coffee from Royal Caribbean coffee locations, such as Cafe Promenade, Cafe @ Two70, or Cafe Latte-tudes.

It does not work at freestanding Starbucks kiosks.

Like the bottled water package, you can share the punch card benefits with others if you wish.

Are there discounts on drink packages?

Drink package price closeup

Royal Caribbean always offers a pre-cruise discount on its drink packages.  In short, you'll save money by buying it before the cruise rather than onboard.

You can find the discounted price in the Cruise Planner section of the Royal Caribbean website, or through the Royal Caribbean app.

There are sales nearly all the time, which means the price fluctuates throughout the year.  The price you see today may be different tomorrow, next week, or next year. 

Drink package listed in Cruise Planner

Your best bet is to buy the drink package as early as possible, and then cancel and rebook it if there is a price drop.  It's a mistake to wait to see if the price drops first before buying, because sometimes the price goes up and never comes back down.

Read moreHow to avoid the most common cruise drink package mistakes

The Deluxe Beverage Package price tends to change the most, with there occasionally a discount offered on the Royal Refreshment package.

Drink packages for sale

You should not expect to see any discounts for the Soda package or the limited quantity drink packages, although it's not entirely unheard of either.

Periodically check the Cruise Planner for new prices to see if there's a better discount.

Keep in mind what someone else paid for the drink package has no bearing on what you can expect either. The dynamic nature of pricing and the lack of a price match program makes comparing drink package prices to someone else meaningless.


Members of Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society whom are at least Diamond or higher can get an onboard discount for drink package purchases, but it cannot be used online.

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

The online discount tends to be about the same or better than waiting to book onboard with the Crown and Anchor discount, so I don't recommend waiting to use it.

Read moreBest Time to Buy A Royal Caribbean Drink Package

What is the difference between the Royal Caribbean drink packages?

Virgin pina colada

In short, what's included is the major difference between any drink package.

The soda package only includes soft drinks, and nothing else. The Royal Refreshment Package includes soda, mocktails, bottled water, coffees, and any other beverage onboard that does not include alcohol, but does not include alcoholic drinks.  The Deluxe Beverage Package includes everything the Soda and Royal Refreshment packages include, plus alcohol.

The three main drink packages are unlimited, whereas the coffee card and the bottled water packages are not unlimited and have a fixed amount of beverages. In addition, the three main drink packages cannot be shared with any other guests, but you may share the coffee card or bottled water package with other guests.

How do you buy a Royal Caribbean drink package?

Family in dining room

You can buy a drink package online, onboard the cruise ship, or by phone. No matter how you buy it, you will be charged immediately at the time of purchase the full amount at that point.

I think the easiest way to buy a drink package is online before the cruise begins.  

You can do so by going to the Cruise Planner website and booking it there.  You could book it from the Royal Caribbean app as well, but I find the Cruise Planner site easier to track price changes.

If you prefer, you can call Royal Caribbean by calling 1-800-398-9819 and placing an order with a cruise line representative.

Lastly, you could wait to buy a drink package onboard your cruise ship from any bar or restaurant. There's usually tables set up around the ship on embarkation day advertising the drink package too.

Is a Royal Caribbean drink package worth it?


Drink packages are expensive, but they can save you a lot of money if you are the type of person who can drink enough to make it worthwhile.

The convenience of not having to think about racking up a giant bar bill is enough for some people to warrant buying a drink package. 

Most people try to think if they will drink enough every day of the cruise to save them money compared to if they just bought each drink individually.


The bottled water and coffee card are the easiest drink packages to determine their value.  With the bottled water, you could bring home any unused water so there's little risk in wasting it.  Of course, Royal Caribbean provides complimentary water and coffees and teas, which is satisfactory for most people.

The Refreshment Package is worth it if you can mix in enough beverages every day.  

A $5 latte, $2 bottled water, $7 for a mocktail, and $4 soda adds up every day (plus gratuity), and with an unlimited amount, you could grab extra bottled water, or get a second coffee and really take advantage of the package.

Rum and coke

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, the more hard liquor you order, the more the Deluxe Beverage Package makes sense.

If you drink 6-8 cocktails per day, it's worth it to get a drink package. Likewise, if you drink 9-11 beers per day, it could be a good idea too.

That may sound excessive, but people tend to drink differently on vacation than at home.  If you were to order a latte and bloody mary in the morning, two beers by the pool in the afternoon, two glasses of wine at dinner, and then a cocktail or two in the evening, you're pretty much breaking even on the Deluxe Beverage Package.

Lime & Coconut drink

I think a drink package is worth it if you're remotely in the neighborhood of drinking enough every day, coupled with the convenience of having it all prepaid.

In addition, you can buy a drink package many months before the cruise begins and pay it off on different billing cycle than onboard the ship along with all the other purchases you make onboard.

If you're not planning to drink a lot, skip the drink package and save the money for something else.  You can still have enough of the basic drinks and charge a few drinks here and there without breaking your budget.

Royal Caribbean News Round-Up: November 12, 2023

12 Nov 2023
Matt Hochberg

Another busy week of Royal Caribbean fun just wrapped up, but if you missed any of it, I have a concise look at all of it for you in this weekly news round-up!

Royal Caribbean released its European cruises for the 2025 cruise season.

Odyssey of the Seas aerial

Six ships will sail around Europe to Norway, the Mediterranean, Spain and more.

Highlighting the season is the return of Allure of the Seas to Europe, along with Odyssey of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean News

New RCB Video: I spent $1200 extra to stay in this "SUITE" for 7 days

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — I spent $1200 extra to stay in this "SUITE" for 7 days — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 518th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is available to enjoy, where Matt reviews a three-night cruise on an Oasis Class ship.

Allure of the Seas is starting her run of short cruises, and it begs the question of if it's worth it to go on an Oasis Class ship for just a few days.

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 stayed in a $7,000 suite on Allure of the Seas for just 3 nights

Royal Loft Suite living room

Matt jumped at the chance to try the biggest suite on Allure of the Seas, even if it was just for the weekend.

He took his family on a 3-night cruise and booked the Royal Loft Suite, which cost just over $7,000.

This two level mega suite was big on just about everything, including having a jacuzzi on the balcony and the services of the Royal Genie. What was the room like and did he enjoy it?

Why I'm excited to go on a world cruise for 274 nights

Leah and Steve

Leah and Steve are just a few week away from embarking on Royal Caribbean's first ever world cruise.

The chance to sail around the world seemed too good of an idea to pass up, so they booked the entire transit.

Going on a cruise for such a long time has its own sets of challenges, but the couple are determined to make it work.

Royal Caribbean's Black Friday sale is here

Black Friday cruise planner sale

You can start looking for deep discounts with Royal Caribbean's Black Friday offer.

Some cruisers think this is the best sale of the year, so now is the time to price out all those cruise add-ons.

The sale is active now, and runs through November 24, 2023.

Is a short cruise on an Oasis Class ship a good idea?

Allure of the Seas in Perfect Day at CocoCay

Having tried a 3-night cruise on Allure of the Seas, Matt wrestled with the notion of if it's worthwhile to book a short cruise.

Oasis Class ships are packed with so many things to do, so will going on a short cruise leave you disappointed?

Matt gave it a try and found some great advantages of picking a weekend cruise on Royal Caribbean's mega ships.

You'll save money on Royal Caribbean's WiFi internet with this trick

11 Nov 2023
Matt Hochberg

You can buy Royal Caribbean WiFi for your Royal Caribbean cruise, but there's a way to save money if you need it for more than one person.

By pre-purchasing internet access, Royal Caribbean discounts the price on its WiFi packages, but we've noticed a discrepancy in the pricing structure that could save you up to $125.

This trick assumes two things: you are pre-purchasing internet before the cruise, and you need internet for more than one person.

Buying it onboard or for just yourself doesn't work for this trick.

Wifi internet

Instead of buying a one device internet plan for each person, buy a multi-device plan for one person to share with others.

When you do the math, it becomes very apparent that there's a big discount right now from Royal Caribbean's Black Friday sale on multi device plans. Keep in mind this trick may only work while Royal Caribbean's Black Friday offer is active, so act quickly.

When you select who you want to buy a WiFi package for, instead of selecting a one device plan for each person in your group, choose up to a 4 device plan for one person.

Here's a look at the cost savings on an upcoming cruise on Allure of the Seas:

Two devices

$104.97 for a two device plan vs $125.94 for two one device plans

Three devices

$119.97 for a three device plan vs $188.91

Four devices

$125.97 for a four device plan vs $251.88

WIfi prices
Wifi prices

With the four device plan, you can net 55% off, which is the maximum discount.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader NoobCruise posted about this topic and couldn't believe the cost savings, "If I add the three people on my cruise I will get charged $300+, but if I just sign myself up for wifi and get 3 devices it much cheaper. Why would anyone do it the other way?"

The only downside to sharing an internet package with someone else is remembering to log out of a device so that the next device can log in.  With multi-device plans, it can be confusing which devices are logged in or accidently kicking someone out.

In my opinion, it's a minor issue to deal with in exchange for big savings.

Can you share an internet package?

man using Wifi

You might be concerned about sharing an internet package with someone else, but this is allowed under Royal Caribbean's rules.

Internet packages can be shared because they are limited to a certain amount of devices at one time.

With any internet package, after the device limit is reached, a message appears to indicate you need to log out of the other device or force a log out.

Device limit

Royal Caribbean's drink packages, however, do not allow sharing with other passengers, and this is likely where the assumption that the internet package cannot be shared.

Drink packages don't have a daily limit, whereas the WiFi package has a limit so it cannot be abused.

How to switch devices with a WiFi package

Freedom of the Seas bow

It's very easy to swap devices on your cruise ship.

Once you get onboard the ship, the purchase is preloaded, which means there's no special code to activate it.  Connect to Royal Caribean's WiFi and proceed through the menu to create an account.

App wifi

Sign in under the passenger that purchased the multi device account. When you do, you'll see a pre-purchased device plan option that you can activate.  You'll know it's the correct one when there's a $0.00 charge at the bottom.

Pick a username and password and that's it.

Then, give the username and password to anyone that needs to have access.

Wifi on the balcony

The easiest way to sign out of a device is to open a web browser and go to and that should let you know that device is now disconnected from the plan.

You can use an unlimited amount of devices throughout your cruise, but only the amount your plan allows for at one time.

Can I still save if I already bought a WiFi package?

Woman holding iPhone

Yes! You can always cancel any Cruise Planner purchase without any penalty, as long as you do it before the cruise begins.

To cancel your original purchase, go into the Cruise Planner and then select Order History from the menu.

Order history

Find the purchase you made and click cancel. The refund should come back to your credit card within a few business days.  

Any onboard credit you used for the original purchase will be refunded instantly so you can use it again.

You can then immediately go back and order the internet package using this trick to save the money.

Taylor Swift fans organize group cruise for other Swifties

11 Nov 2023
Allie Hubers

Taylor Swift fans and cruisers alike…. Are You Ready For It? And by it, we mean a Taylor Swift Fan group cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. 

If you are a fan of Taylor Swift and love to cruise, there's a sailing for you.

Marvelous Mouse Travels announced a 4-night group cruise will take place in October 2024 that will focus on celebrating all things Taylor Swift. The travel agents are huge fans of Taylor Swift and therefore wanted to coordinate a fun getaway for other Swifties to celebrate their love of Taylor Swift. 

This special sailing sets sail the day after Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Eras Tour comes to Miami on October 21, 2024. Whether you’ve snagged tickets to the concert or you simply want to meet other Swifts, the group cruise is open to all fans of Ms. Swift. 

It’s time to pack away your cardigans and set sail with fellow Swifties into the gorgeous sunsets of the Bahamas. Even better: You won’t need to wait in the dreaded Ticketmaster queue to attend this Swiftie gathering!

Allure of the Seas

During the Taylor Swift Fan group cruise, Taylor Swift fans will enjoy cocktail parties, Taylor Trivia, themed dance parties, friendship bracelet swapping and Taylor-themed karaoke. All events are included in the cruise fare and exclusive to those participating in the group cruise. 

According to the agency, there’s already been a huge demand for the Taylor Swift Fan group cruise. Thanks to TikTok, many Swifties have already secured their cabins onboard the sailing. In fact, the travel agents said they needed to request additional cabins onboard Allure of the Seas to meet the popular demand!

However, it’s important we make it abundantly clear that Marvelous Mouse Travels is not affiliated or endorsed by TASRM or Taylor Swift. Sadly, Taylor Swift herself will not be making any appearances on this cruise. Instead, this is meant to be a fun gathering for all fans of Taylor Swift to share in their love of the global pop star. 

Group cruises are organized sailings that allow fans to sail together onboard a cruise while participating in group activities

Mama Mia

Royal Caribbean has a long-standing reputation of building some of the biggest and most innovative cruise ships in the world, making Allure of the Seas an excellent choice to host a group cruise.

Most often, you’ll book group cruises through a travel agency to ensure you have access to all the exclusive, organized events that take place on the ship. During the cruise, group cruisers take part in special events and activities with fellow group cruisers.

Marvelous Mouse Travels states, “The cruise fare also includes special themed activities available on this sailing only. Details will be released soon, but you can expect Taylor inspired theme nights and activities like Taylor karaoke, trivia, scavenger hunts, door decorating contests and more!”

However, you won’t be spending every waking moment of your cruise doing group activities. On most group cruises, there are one or two daily planned events throughout the sailing. In this way, you can still find time to yourself onboard your cruise if you need to recharge your social battery.

How much does it cost to sail on the Taylor Swift Fan group cruise?

Balcony room

Prices for the organized group cruise start at $1,573 for two guests, depending on which stateroom you choose to book. Balcony staterooms - dubbed “Karma is the breeze in my hair on the weekend” for this special sailing - will cost more $1,967.

As with any cruise, you will need to take into consideration what type of stateroom you want to sail in to budget appropriately. According to the information page, Boardwalk Balconies are already sold out for the Swiftie Group Cruise. 

To book your spot onboard the Swiftie group cruise, you’ll want to book directly with Marvelous Mouse Travels. The organizers note that events will have capacity limits and only those who book directly with the agency will be guaranteed a spot for events during the group cruise. Because of this, if you choose to book independently, you might not be able to participate in all of the activities during the cruise. 

Airfare is not included in the cruise fare. You will also need to book your own drink package, shore excursions, specialty dining and internet. These are available for pre-purchase through the cruise planner or you can book onboard; however, the fare for the Taylor Swift Fan cruise does not include these premium add-ons.

This won’t be the first time Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas will been filled with Taylor Swift fans

It might be hard to believe now, but Taylor Swift once performed live onboard Allure of the Seas for a small stadium of fans before she was the A-list superstar she is today. 

Back in January 2011, Taylor Swift performed onboard Allure of the Seas, which was the world’s newest and largest cruise ship at the time. The concert was in front of about 735 passengers, although Allure of the Seas can hold 5,400 passengers at maximum capacity. 

On January 21, 2011, Taylor Swift performed a live concert for cruisers when the ship was docked in Cozumel. The small concert look place on Allure of the Seas’ signature AquaTheatre. In an interview after her performance, Taylor noted how Allure’s AquaTheatre was such a unique venue for her to perform at. She shared how cool it was to see fans not only in the amphitheater itself, but also fans watching from their Boardwalk Balconies above the stage.  

While most performances on cruise ships coincide with the launch of a new ship, Taylor’s performance on Allure of the Seas did not. At the time, Taylor Swift was planning to embark on her Speak Now tour following her third album release. 

If you wanted to attend the concert in the AquaTheatre, guests needed to earn a pass for the performance. During the cruise, Allure of the Seas hosted multiple contests and opportunities for guests to earn a coveted ticket for the concert. Some of these included Taylor karaoke and a Taylor Swift lookalike contest. Since the AquaTheatre can hold less than 800 people on Allure of the Seas, passes to the concert - even then - were hard to come by. 

Many Swifties (myself included) begged their parents to cruise on Allure of the Seas for the chance to see Taylor Swift in such an unconventional venue. One could argue that Taylor Swift is the biggest star to ever perform on a Royal Caribbean cruise. 

Taylor Swift continues to be a massive pop-star with her chart-topping music and wildly popular stadium tour

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Taylor Swift has quite literally been boosting the economy with the unprecedented demand for her tour. Between her Grammy-nominated album releases and three-hour-long Eras concert tour, Taylor Swift is the biggest name in pop culture. 

For many Swifties, the tour has become more than just a concert - it’s an opportunity to meet other like-minded fans. Call it what you want, but Ms. Swift’s popularity has cultivated a community filed with dedicated and passionate fans. 

Fans bonding over a mutual love of Taylor Swift makes the perfect opportunity for a marvelous time onboard Allure of the Seas. You’re sure to be enchanted meeting so many Swifties onboard!

I spent more than $1500 on a 4-night cruise. Here's what everything cost, from a $350 dog sitter to $43 for onboard internet

10 Nov 2023
Allie Hubers

I recently sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, and while the cruise fare was relatively cheap at $466.50 per person, the additional costs of cruising and traveling added up quickly. 

My sister and I were eager to have a fall getaway and we had never cruised on Grandeur of the Seas before. Since this cruise was only 4-nights, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to sail onboard the ship, commonly referred to as “Lady G”. 

I spent approximately $1,512.71 on a 4-night cruise to sail on Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship between my flights, internet, specialty dining and travel costs. I'm not sure if I would want to spend that much again unless the itinerary included more interesting ports. 

I flew across Florida for the cruise - from Destin to Tampa - for $250

Living in Florida is perfect for an avid cruiser like me, but the Florida Panhandle is about as far from the cruise ports as you can get in the state. Rather than making the 6 hour drive to Tampa for the cruise, I purchased a flight instead. 

To be frank, I hate driving in Florida and do not handle the stress with grace behind the wheel. I grew up driving on rural highways in South Dakota, so the massive interstates in Florida continue to give me driving anxiety.

Purchasing a flight was the best choice for us, even if it was more expensive than hitting the road. Given the upward trending costs of flights these days, $250 seemed more than reasonable to fly on Delta Air Lines. 

My sister and I both flew with carry-on luggage, so we did not have any additional luggage expenses. However, we did leave our car at the airport; this ended up costing us $51.90 for the five nights. Had we driven to Tampa, we likely would have spent more than this to park at the cruise port. 

  • Flights to Tampa: $250
  • Airport Parking: $51.90
  • Total: $301.90

To have someone take care of my dogs at home, I paid an in-home dog sitter $350 for five nights

When pricing out a cruise, I always forget about the additional cost of my dogs. Since my sister is my go-to (i.e. free) dog sitter when I travel, I needed to pursue another option because she would be traveling with me this time. Unfortunately, my husband would not be home to watch the dogs either. 

I have two large Aussiedoodles, so boarding can get expensive with two dogs. Because I prefer to keep them at home if I can, I hired a dog sitter to come to our house to take care of them. The total cost for this pet care was $350 for the five nights we would be away, including a tip. 

But, you can’t convince me that this was not money well spent to know my dogs were well cared for during our cruise. Peace of mind is priceless!

  • Dog sitter total: $350

The night before the cruise, we spent the night at the Tampa Marriott hotel connected to the airport for $150.96

The cardinal rule of cruising is that you should arrive to your embarkation port the day before your cruise, especially if you are flying. We opted for a flight that arrived later in the evening, which allowed us to work at home in the morning. This also saved on cost for the dog sitter and airport parking. 

I had never traveled to Tampa for a cruise before, so I was not sure the best area to stay prior to the cruise. Because we did not have much time to explore the city, we opted for a convenient option at the airport. 

We paid $150.96 for one night at the Tampa Airport Marriott. This was a perfect choice for us because it was connected directly to the airport, so we did not need to take transportation. We were able to walk directly from the passenger terminal to the hotel. 

Because I have status with Marriott, we had access to the hotel’s lounge for both breakfast and dinner. This easily saved us $50 each because we did not need to pay for meals until we boarded the cruise. 

  • Hotel in Tampa: $150.96

We spent $54.48 on Uber rides to and from the cruise port

Staying in the airport hotel was cost-efficient for us; however, we still needed an Uber ride the following morning when it was time to board our cruise. We had a leisure morning at the hotel enjoying breakfast and coffee before making our way to the Tampa Cruise Terminal.

The cost of the Uber to the cruise terminal from the Marriott Airport Hotel was $27.96, including a tip for the driver. We were surprised to see the cruise terminal was located in the heart of downtown.

Read moreTop things Uber & Lyft riders should know for getting to their cruise ship

After the cruise ended, we ordered an Uber to take us back to the airport. The cost of this Uber on a Monday morning was only $26.32. I anticipated this to cost more given the number of people looking for transportation, but that was not the case.

  • Uber to cruise port from airport hotel: $27.96
  • Uber to airport from cruise port: $26.32
  • Total Uber Cost: $54.28

The 4-night cruise on Grandeur of the Seas was $466.50 to stay in an inside cabin guarantee

Cruising in an inside guarantee cabin is almost always the most affordable option on a cruise ship. In addition, Grandeur of the Seas was built in the 1990s when ships featured very few balconies. Because of this, most cabins onboard are outside or inside cabins anyway. 

We did not mind sailing in an inside cabin since the cruise was only four nights. I was eager to see the cabin’s condition consider the ship’s age; however, we were impressed by the stateroom overall. It was apparent Royal Caribbean had refurbished the ship at some point, although it still lacked modern amenities. 

In fact, the cabin’s design and condition was very similar to my recent experiences onboard Radiance, Voyager, and Freedom Class ships. The worst part of the cabin was the oddly-shaped shower and dealing with noisy neighbors. 

Onboard the cruise, we paid an additional $74 for tips between drinks and dining service

Although we had prepaid our gratuities, we still had additional tipping expenses onboard our cruise. My sister and I both qualify for the complimentary Diamond Plus drinks each day. But, these drinks are not automatically charged with gratuities in the same way you’d be charged for an individual drink.

Because of this, I always tip a few dollars on my Diamond drinks to ensure the bartenders are taken care of. I spent $14 on additional tips during my cruise since I did not have many drinks throughout the sailing. 

I also spent $60 on additional tips for our stateroom attendant, dining room waiter and assistant waiter. On a shorter cruise, I usually tip $20 to each of these crew members to express my gratitude for their hard-work and service. But, these are optional and at the cruiser’s discretion, especially if you've prepaid your gratuities. 

  • Drink Tips: $43.98
  • Additional tips: $60.00
  • Total Additional Tips: $103.98

We decided to splurge on an Internet package and specialty dining during our cruise

It’s easy to spend a lot of money on your cruise with additional add-ons once onboard. Everything from specialty dining to internet access and casino play can rack up quite the bill.

I never forget to purchase internet when I cruise, as I need this for my multiple remote jobs. I also prefer keeping in touch with those back home, such as the dog sitter for daily pup-dates. Moreover, I want to have access to the internet in case there is an emergency. 

Sometimes it’s cheaper to pre-purchase internet depending on the sailing’s length - this is especially dependent on any promotions that Royal Caribbean is running. For a 4-night sailing, it’s normally cheaper to purchase internet onboard to take advantage of my two free internet days, which I receive as a Diamond Plus member. 

For the higher-tier internet package for our 4-night cruise, including my loyalty discount, I paid $51.98. I dream of the day that internet access on a cruise ship will be included!

Additionally, my sister and I decided to splurge on specialty dining for the first night of our cruise. Boarding day can be hectic and I enjoy winding down with a more upscale meal and dining experience in a specialty restaurant. 

Using our Diamond Plus specialty dining benefit, we can get a free cover charge with the purchase of a full-price cover charge. Essentially, this is a BOGO deal that can be used on the first or second night of the cruise. 

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

We had a fantastic meal in Giovanni’s Italian Table costing $63.09, which included a service charge and tip for our incredible waiter.

  • Internet package: $51.98
  • Specialty dining at Giovanni’s: $63.09
  • Total Onboard Purchases: $115.07

During our stop in Cozumel, we walked around the port but did not spend any money

We booked this cruise because of the price and dates rather than the itinerary. For this 4-night cruise, we had two sea days and one port stop in Cozumel, Mexico. My sister and I have cruised a lot in our lifetime, so we were happy to simply walk around the Cozumel port and not spend any money. 

Excursions in Cozumel can also be pricey depending on what you want to do during your time ashore. During the day we visited, it was very hot outside; so, we lasted maybe 30 minutes in the heat before making our way back to the ship. 

If you are looking to budget appropriately for your upcoming cruise, be sure to include the cost of your port activities or excursions. Some cities are easy to explore on your own while others might require an excursion to see or do what you want. 

  • Money spent in port: $0

Between the cost of the cruise, airfare, dog sitter, transportation and onboard expenses, I spent $1,512.71 to sail on Grandeur of the Seas

My sister and I had a great time on our cruise, although we both agreed the final cost of the entire vacation was more than we expected. It’s easy to see a fantastic cruise price and think you will be enjoying a budget-friendly trip. However, the extra costs of cruising, traveling and simply enjoying vacation can add up quickly. 

Aside from the cruise itself, the most expensive aspects of my cruise came from the $350 dog sitter, $250 flight and $150 hotel cost. More often than not, the cost of pet care exceeds other areas of cruising - at least for me! It’s much more cost efficient for me to cruise without my sister so she can stay behind and watch my dogs (sorry, Angie). 

For $1,500, I think I’d prefer to save up for a bigger cruise with either a more interesting itinerary or a newer cruise ship. But, sometimes a short weekend cruise is more accessible in comparison to a bigger cruise. Even still, there always seem to be unexpected charges 

It's not your imagination - Royal Caribbean is sending fewer ships to Europe

10 Nov 2023
Allie Hubers

If you’re planning a European cruise with Royal Caribbean in the next two years, you will have fewer ships and itineraries to choose from when compared to previous seasons.

Royal Caribbean recently announced European itineraries for the summer of 2025 - and it’s apparent the cruise line is continuing to reduce its presence in the region. By the summer of 2025, only six ships will be sailing in Europe for the cruise line. 

For comparison, Royal Caribbean had nine ships sailing in Europe for the summer of 2023. This is a 33% reduction in the number of cruise ships from Royal Caribbean’s fleet that will be deploying for the European season. 

Based on double occupancy, the passenger capacity in 2025 for European itineraries will be reduced by about 23% from the 2023 European season. Deploying larger ships to the region has salvaged some of the lost capacity due to the reduction in ships for Royal Caribbean. 

For the summer of 2024, the European region will only receive seven ships from Royal Caribbean’s fleet - one of which includes the Ultimate World Cruise on Serenade of the Seas.

Despite unexpected, increased demand for European cruises in the last quarter, Royal Caribbean is continuing to focus on increased capacity to its private island: Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

Over the years, Royal Caribbean has been slowly reduced the number of ships sailing in the European region. This downward trend is all but confirmed by the 2025 European deployment schedule.

Although Royal Caribbean has been reducing ships in Europe, the cruise line is sending bigger ships to the region.

For the 2024 and 2025 European seasons, Royal Caribbean has opted to increase the size of ships sailing around the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. In prior years, the cruise line would sail mostly Vision and Radiance-Class ships in the region, which are among the smallest in the fleet.

The largest ship will be Allure of the Seas, which is an Oasis-Class ship that will be returning to Europe for the first time since 2015. Sailing from the UK once again will be Independence of the Seas, which is a Freedom-Class ship that will replace Anthem of the Seas. 

Other large ships sailing in the region include Odyssey of the Seas, followed by Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas. Brilliance of the Seas will be the smallest ship sailing Europe next summer, which has a capacity of 2,140 passengers.

Voyager of the Seas docked in Costa Maya

Compared to other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean’s European presence is much smaller. For example, competitor Norwegian Cruise Line will be sending eight vessels to Europe in 2024 and 2025. The cruise line’s two newest ships - Norwegian Viva and Norwegian Prima - will both be sailing in Europe during this time.

For Royal Caribbean’s European season, Odyssey of the Seas - which first debuted in 2021 - will be the newest ship sailing in the region. Allure of the Seas is the second newest ship from 2009 followed by Independence of the Seas, which was built in 2008. Royal Caribbean’s other ships scheduled to sail in Europe are all 20+ years old. 

Larger ships are restricted to certain ports due to their size, leading to less varied European itineraries. 

Allure of the Seas docked

Although Royal Caribbean is planning to send bigger ships in the coming summers, this comes with its own set of challenges. Most important, larger ships cannot access certain ports due to size restriction. 

Sailing larger ships around Europe means Royal Caribbean’s itineraries are less varied. You can still find port-intensive sailings, but options are more limited. You’ll only be able to cruise from five departure ports in Europe starting in 2025: Southampton (London), Ravenna (Venice), Civitavecchia (Rome), Piraeus (Athens) and Barcelona.

Notably missing from the European summer schedule in 2025 include the British Isles, Arctic Circle, Baltic cities and Iceland. Royal Caribbean has always offered these European itineraries in the summer, but these sailings in particular are missing from the 2025 schedule. 

If you are looking for more diverse itineraries such as these, you will likely need to check out another cruise line, including sister brand Celebrity Cruises. Even with a smaller fleet, Celebrity Cruises is planning to send six cruise ships to Europe for 2024 (2025 sailings have yet to be released). You can find longer sailings to more interesting, unique destinations throughout Europe. 

Royal Caribbean also released a handful of short European itineraries with very few long sailings scheduled.

Nice, France

One of the most surprising shifts in Royal Caribbean’s planned deployment schedule is the shift towards shorter European sailings. Interestingly enough, there are quite a few short sailings between 2 and 5 nights. 

Although Royal Caribbean has amped its weekend sailing options to the Caribbean, this is one of the first times we’ve seen the cruise line offer shorter itineraries in Europe. For example, you can book a 5-night cruise to Germany and Belgium on Independence of the Seas. In addition, Explorer of the Seas and Allure of the Seas each offer a few 5-night cruises to Italy, France and Spain. 

Looking at the 2025 summer schedule, Royal Caribbean’s website only shows two 12-night sailings. There is one 12-night cruise on Odyssey of the Seas to Greece and Turkey while Independence of the Seas is only sailing one 12-night cruise to the Canary Islands. The deployment schedule for the summer of 2025 shows a few 9-night and 10-night itineraries throughout Europe, but the vast majority are 7-nights.

This is a diversion from Royal Caribbean’s typical European summer schedule, as the cruise line has always offered multiple itineraries for 12-night to 14-night cruises.

Despite "roaring demand" demand for European itineraries, Royal Caribbean is focusing on increased capacity at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

In a recent 2023 Q3 earnings call, CEO Jason Liberty specifically called out the unexpected, strong demand for Europe in 2023. 

“While the Caribbean remains a standout performer this year, we were particularly pleased with the strength and quality of cruising demand for European itineraries. This acceleration of demand for Europe contributed to the better-than-expected yield performance for the quarter,” stated Liberty. 

In fact, the accelerated demand for Europe resulted in better-than-expected yield performance for the quarter and is expected to increase revenue for these itineraries. However, according to Royal Caribbean, Europe only accounts for just 17% of the cruise line’s capacity compared to the Caribbean’s share of 55%.

Royal Caribbean is clearly pivoting from other markets to focus on increasing capacity to its private island: Perfect Day at CocoCay. With the new adults-only Hideaway Beach planned for the end of the year, the cruise line is aiming to increase the number of guests to the private destination.

“Obviously, we've planned to open Hideaway Beach at the end of this year in time for Icon and Utopia - that’s going to increase our ability to add more gas to Perfect Day by about 3,000 people. So that allows us then to continue to increase our capacity into Perfect Day,” said President Michael Bayley during the earnings call. 

Royal Caribbean Blog followers expressed disappointment and frustration over the 2025 European deployment schedule. 

With a more limited selection for European itineraries in the coming summers, some cruisers expressed frustration with Royal Caribbean.

To start, many followers mentioned the disappointment with Royal Caribbean’s planned itineraries from Southhampton. “Very poor from Royal for Northern European…Indy has such poor itineraries and nothing for Iceland/Arctic circle? It’s as though we’re an afterthought. Not impressed,” said Mark Middleton on Facebook

“I don’t see Scotland or Ireland. We booked a Scotland/Ireland with NCL. We are pretty loyal to Royal Caribbean but wanted and needed more time to pay it off. Plus with some research it looked like RC was going to be more with nothing included," said Jennifer McCrory.

Follower Lynsey Bolton felt similarly, commenting, “Gutted as no 14 night Med/Canaries cruises for Summer 2025 from Southampton. Will have to try an alternative cruise line but desperately wanted to cruise with RC again!”

In addition, the cruise line has opted to swap the newer Anthem of the Seas with Independence of the Seas - something that many view as a downgrade.

User DS shared, “Real shame that Royal treat the UK clientele so poorly and have put Independence back in Southampton. All other cruise lines bringing new ships while Royal brings a 15-year old tired ship urgently in need of cabin refurbishment. Many UK residents will almost certainly now go elsewhere.”

Other followers were disappointed in Royal Caribbean’s decision to sail older ships to Europe. “Come on Royal Caribbean!! These sailings are second rate for Southampton and Europe .... we deserve better and newer ships too!” said Alison Guest.  Follower Sean Chan agreed, posting, “Love how Royal dumps old ships for Europe itinerary.” 

I celebrated Halloween on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and it's my favorite holiday to spend at sea

10 Nov 2023
Marcy Miyar

Allure of the Seas has just started sailing out of Port Canaveral doing short three and four night cruises.  Their second sailing was during Halloween.


You might not think of Halloween and a cruise ship as an obvious must-do, but maybe you should reconsider.

My husband and I attended our first All Hallow’s Eve on the Freedom of the Seas in 2006 and always cruise during that time, as our anniversary is three days prior. It’s our favorite time to sail.  

Here is everything we did and saw that made our holiday extra special.

What costume to wear?


Halloween isn’t just for kids!  In fact, in our experience, there are more adults that dress up than the children.  Since we live within driving distance to Port Canaveral, it’s a little easier for folks like us when it comes to packing. We have the luxury of not having to worry about airline luggage weight limits yet we still didn’t want to bring an extra suitcase filled with elaborate costume accessories.

Keep in mind all clothing and wigs tend to be compressed in your luggage and may need time to get their shape back. You can only imagine how much space my giant petticoat took up in my suitcase!


This year we went as characters from the movie “Grease.”  We dressed as Marty Maraschino and Danny Zuko. (My husband wasn’t too pleased that people kept calling him Elvis or The Fonz. LOL) We like to do couple costumes that will match something on the ship. Knowing there was a Johnny Rockets onboard, I knew I’d be able to get some awesome photos in that venue. Even the crew enjoyed seeing us in costume and helped us plan the perfect photo opportunity.

 Tip:  We purchased our outfits years prior at the Halloween stores’ November 1st sale where all the costumes and accessories were 50% off.  If you know you’re going to sail during that time, it’s a great way to save money!  However, you can still celebrate the season without a costume at all.  We saw plenty of passengers dressed in Halloween themed t-shirts and dresses.

Halloween morning


Unlike Christmas, where the ships have holiday décor up for months, Halloween onboard is typically celebrated just that one day.  You won’t see decorations around the ship until October 31st and they will all be quickly put away on November 1st.

We hurried down to the promenade at 7 a.m; anxious to see all the spooky sights.  We were greeted with none.  

Confused, we stopped by the Guest Services desk and asked where all the Halloween decorations were.  We were informed there wouldn’t be any this year because the ship had just switched home ports this week.  That seemed odd to me as the decorations are typically stored on the ship so it shouldn’t matter where the ship is sailing from. That was kind of disappointing.


Something we’ve learned over the years of cruising is that every ship has a different way of doing things. However, there were plenty of Halloween activities listed in the cruise compass so I knew there would at least be a celebration for the holiday.

Adventure Ocean Fun


I stopped in to the kids club area to ask the staff there what activities would be offered for the children.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the entire area was decorated with “Happy Halloween” signs, balloons, cobwebs and the like.  It looked very festive in there.  

There were plenty of events scheduled throughout the day and evening such as a costume contest, a parade, Halloween themed arts and crafts and a scavenger hunt.  


While there was no official trick or treating around the ship, we did encounter several fellow passengers that were handing out candy to children on the promenade.

A Spooky Surprise


Our ship was docked in Nassau that day.  Upon returning, we were greeted with Halloween decorations!  There was a display of carved pumpkins outside of the Windjammer as well as adornments up and down the Royal Promenade.  


I don’t know what ended up changing their mind.  My theory is there must have been a lot of people voicing their displeasure concerning the lack of ambiance onboard at Guest Services, just as we had earlier in the day.  It made for a much better mood around the ship.  

We did the Monster Mash


The fun started for the adults at 5 p.m. with Halloween themed afternoon trivia and continued well past the witching hour. 7:15 p.m. in the Schooner Bar featured Halloween “Name that Tune” trivia.        

Costume contests started in the casino at 9 p.m.  Anyone dressed up that was playing at the slot machines were automatically entered.  The casino hosts would covertly circle the room and pick out random winners that were eligible for a variety of secret prizes.

The Royal Promenade was packed as the costume parade began at 11 p.m. There were so many wonderful costumes.  


Some of my favorites were “The League of their Own” group, a couple dressed as Maverick and Goose from “Top Gun” and Captain Jack Sparrow from “The Pirates of the Caribbean.”  I couldn’t help but laugh at the dozen or so inflatable sharks, perfect costumes for a cruise.


Studio B was the focal point of fun.  The holiday party started at 10 p.m. and went on until midnight.  The ice skating rink was covered with a dance floor and was packed with party goers. The live DJ played songs from Taylor Swift to Rhianna; line dances featuring the Cha-Cha slide, the Cupid Shuffle, and the Wobble.  And of course, Halloween favorites such as The Phantom of the Opera, Ghostbusters, and Thriller. 

There were two opportunities to sign up for the Halloween costume contest throughout the day.  Winners were chosen in Studio B at 11:15 p.m.  The winners were split up into categories: Scariest costume, Best Couple, Best Group, Scariest Costume and Overall Best Costume.


The party continued into the wee hours of the night for the 18 and up crowd with a D.J. in the Blaze nightclub that began at midnight. 

Final thoughts

I always recommend going on a Halloween cruise.  It is so fun to see all the creative costumes.  This year was different as Halloween also fell on formal night so it was an interesting mix of people dressed as zombies and others in ball gowns and suits although the majority were in costume.   It is a late night though, as the events take place after all the dining and show times. As someone who goes to bed early on their cruises, it was hard for me to be able to make all the festivities but I wouldn’t miss it!

I'm going on Royal Caribbean's first world cruise for 274 nights: Why I booked and what I'm expecting

09 Nov 2023
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's first ever cruise around the world begins in December 2023, and it will be a cruise ship filled with passengers who are ready to globe trot in a new way.

World cruise

While the concept of a world cruise is nothing new to the cruise industry, this is Royal Caribbean's first foray into this type of cruise.

The Ultimate World Cruise will take 274 nights on Serenade of the Seas that will visit more than 150 destinations in 65 countries and 11 great wonders of the world.

World cruise map

Serenade of the Seas will sail roundtrip from Miami on Dec. 10, 2023 and through Sept. 10, 2024.

When Royal Caribbean first announced it would offer this cruise, many cruisers jumped at the chance to try it.

I wanted to know why a cruise around the world and a sailing that long was appealing, and what compelled them to book.

Leah and Steve are bloggers that booked the entire transit, and they shared why they booked and how they're planning a cruise of this length.

Why we started to consider a world cruise

Leah and Steve

A while back when I was in my 20s, I heard about a month long cruise that went to all of the religious centers of the world. Not much compared to the Ultimate World Cruise, but I really wanted to do it. At the time, it was beyond my financial resources.

Since then, it has been in the back of my mind to do a really long, epic adventure like that. So when I first saw the Ultimate World Cruise, I knew I was in. I would find some way to pay for it, because it was that important to me. 

My husband Steve thought it would be a great trip, but wasn’t sure that we could afford it. You see, he started saving for retirement late in life and has been trying to make up for lost time over the past decade. I pestered him by sending him a meme – I’m sure you have all seen it. The older couple in a Gondola in Venice, both sprawled out in the boat and sleeping.

Gondola meme

The thousand words that this picture explains are all the reasons you shouldn’t wait until you are too old, and too tired to enjoy traveling and seeing the world. He laughed, but still thought retirement accounts would be a better use of our funds. 

Why we decided to book a world cruise

At the beginning of 2022, we were working in different locations. Steve was in Nebraska, and I was in Guam.

Communication between us on this was mostly texts and video chats. He came to visit me in May, and we had plans for him to join me in Guam permanently in a few months. Which he did in August. And less than 24 hours later, he had a heart attack. That minor event changed every plan we had.

Over the next couple of months we just concentrated on getting him the treatment he needed, and getting our heads wrapped around how are lives were going to change.

It took about three months for the dust to settle, and then that meme came up in my feed again. I showed it to him again, and this time he was more receptive to the idea. 

Side of Navigator of the Seas

We did some research online. Called Royal Caribbean and they had a separate line set up for the Ultimate World Cruise, which was a good sign. But the folks answering the phone didn’t sound like they really knew the answers to the questions we were asking.

So we researched travel agents, and started working with one from MEI Travel. With her help, we got a better idea of pricing, were able to establish the date for final payment in order to get a 10% discount and spent some more time talking it over. We contacted our travel agent and made arrangements to make the necessary deposits.

Read moreWhy first-time cruisers should use a Royal Caribbean travel agent

Then we started working on transfers for the final payments. Neither of us had a single credit card that would accommodate the entire remaining balance, so we had to get creative. And once the decision was made, we haven’t regretted it a bit. The hard part has been the waiting.

What we've done so far to plan for the world cruise

Planning a trip

From our earlier research, we knew that to get all of the benefit of doing the full length cruise, we would need to have Platinum status with Crown and Anchor 180 days before the Ultimate Cruise began. Royal Caribbean was including seven excursions to new Wonders of the World as complimentary for everyone with this status.

Neither one of us had sailed with Royal Caribbean before, so we booked Junior Suites for three, five-day cruises out of Galveston in April 2023. The same itinerary for all three sailings.

Leah and Steve

We paid attention and learned a lot about cruising. We also had a blast, met some great people, and just enjoyed a relaxing vacation. Steve was already retired. His heart attack made it impossible for him to continue doing the kind of work we had done over the past decade or so. I was still working part-time from home, so I had to wait until my project was mostly finished before I could call myself officially retired. 

That was in September, and since then, we are planning, waiting, making plans, changing plans, and getting ready to be gone for most of a year. 

How we are planning for the Ultimate World Cruise voyage

Serenade of the Seas in Maine

Now that we have a few weeks to go, and I can taste the excitement. 

Since our embarkation day is now right around the corner, pretty much everything we do revolves around getting ready for the Ultimate World Cruise embarkation day. We are treating it like a deployment or overseas job.

We have to make sure we are healthy enough to be without major medical for 9 months. This means passing basic physical requirements. Eye exams – with two pairs of glasses each, in case one breaks. Teeth exams and cleanings. The works.


We’ve already talked to our insurance provider about getting a “vacation” 90 day supply of our medications, so we will be working on that next week. 

We are arranging shipping of some of our bags with Luggage Forward (This is an affiliate link which costs you nothing extra to use, but we make a small commission).

Suitcase open for packing

When people ask how you pack for a vacation like this, there are two options as I see it.

  1. Pack for a typical 2 week vacation and buy things as you go.
  2. Or overpack.

I – am over-packing.

Read more: Ultimate cruise packing list

We are also getting our home set up with a house-sitter. Forwarding our mail. Checking the online requirements for voting. Getting all of our travel documents together, including our vaccination records.

I am pretty pale even on good days, so I have been attempting to get a base tan before we leave. And my dermatologist has provided some additional items to help. There is nothing worse than starting a vacation with a horrible sunburn when you have all sorts of intense activity excursions planned. 

We don’t have any expectations for things to be much different than any other cruise. Other than the length and that some of our fellow passengers will come and go throughout the trip. There is already some level of disappointment due to current events and how those have changed our original itinerary, but it is perfectly understandable given the circumstances. 

Steve and I have often lived in cramped quarters, and already spend a lot of time together, so no concerns there!

What we are expecting of the Ultimate World Cruise

World cruise logo

Since this is a first-of-its-kind sailing for Royal Caribbean, I don’t think anyone really knows what to expect, but we are making some assumptions.

Given the cost and length of the Ultimate World Cruise, we think we will be among the youngest of the crowd. I’m 52, and Steve is 59. A bit younger than the standard retired age.  

There probably won’t be a lot of families with young kids. 


We are guessing the number of people doing the full 274 days will be less than half.  There will definitely be a lot of interesting people to meet.

Steve and I will probably have the lowest Crown and Anchor society status when we first board.

One thing we are hoping for is a less busy gym than on our previous sailings. Steve and I both work out at least 6 days per week and on our last three cruises the gym was so crowded it was difficult to get a decent workout in. If we are correct about the general demographics of the Ultimate World Cruise, I think we will have a good shot at it. But I will have to keep you posted once we set sail!