Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

Royal Caribbean adjusts unlimited drink packages pricing

25 Aug 2015

Royal Caribbean has changed up how it advertises the cost of its unlimited alcohol packages and unlimited beverage packages.

Royal Caribbean is now including the 18% service charge into the daily cost of the package.  

Previously, Royal Caribbean would advertise a lower rate for the packages and then add the service charge upon purchase.

The new pricing for the unlimited alcohol packages is as follows

  • Select package: $42 per person, per day
  • Premium package: $57 per person, per day
  • Ultimate package: $67 per person, per day


In addition, the new pricing is reflected in the Royal Replenish and Royal Refreshment packages as well.

  • Royal Refreshment (soda package)
    • $8 per adult, per day
    • $5.50 per child, per day
  • Royal Replenish package: $22 per person, per day

The new pricing allows the total cost of the package to be more transparent to guests and without the surprise of a service charge added on just prior to purchase.

Do you like that the service charge is now part of the daily price? Share your thoughts in the comments!

9 Royal Caribbean Cocktails You Need To Know About

18 Aug 2015
Matt Hochberg

There is something about having a cocktail on your Royal Caribbean cruise vacation that just puts you into that perfect "now I am on vacation" mood.  Maybe it is the little umbrella or perhaps it is the combination of juice and liquor, but it is hard to go wrong with these delicious mixed drinks.

Over the last few cruises, we have engaged in some serious "research" by sampling a number of mixed drinks and frozen beverages on Royal Caribbean ships and came up with our list of ther drinks worth trying on your next cruise.

Sweet & Spice Margarita and the Sabor Grand Margarita from Sabor

The New Southern from American Icon Grill

Pineapple Special from Freedom of the Seas main pool area

Anything in the color changing mugs!

Labadoozie from Labadee

Mojito from Boleros

Pina Colada from Boleros

Wildberry Lava Flow from pool bar

Coco Loco from CocoCay

How much are these Royal Caribbean drinks?

If just looking at all these drinks makes you want to get onboard and book a cruise, you may also want to know how much these drinks are selling for.

Most of the drinks will cost about $12, not including any souvenir mugs and before gratuity. 

If your drink is the drink of the day, Royal Caribbean will knock 25% off the cost.

Many guests opt for an unlimited alcohol package so they can enjoy plenty of these drinks for a fixed cost.

What is your favorite Royal Caribbean drink? Tell us (and share a photo of it) in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean Virtual Balcony: Everything you wanted to know

14 Aug 2015
Matt Hochberg

A virtual balcony stateroom offers guests the chance to pay for an inside stateroom, but still get a balcony-level view.

This amazing innovation is exclusive to Royal Caribbean and combines impressive technology with breathtaking views.

Inside cabins are usually dreary and cramped, without any natural light.

But a virtual balcony stateroom provides an opportunity to brighten up the space without paying a steep cost.

For guests who want a balcony view without paying the full price for a balcony stateroom, staying in a virtual balcony cabin is a useful hack.

These cabins are located on the inside of the ship, without real windows or balconies.

Instead, a floor-to-ceiling HD screen displays a real-time video feed that mimics a balcony view.

The LED screen shows a look at the view outside the ship, the same as if you were staying in a balcony room.

If you are considering booking a Royal Caribbean cruise, here is everything you need to know about virtual balconies and how they work.

What is a virtual balcony?

Virtual balconies are inside staterooms on select Royal Caribbean ships equipped with 80-inch LED televisions. These TV screens provide live HD views from outside the cruise ship, right into your stateroom.

The screens are 4K ultra-high definition capable screens that stretch from floor to ceiling.

The video feed is received from cameras that are mounted at the stem and stern of the ship. 

Essentially, guests could either view the front of the ship from the camera near the bridge, or the ship’s wake from the camera at the back.

The technical team decided to place these cameras at the front and back because there wasn’t room on the starboard and port sides of the ship. 

Additionally, having the cameras display a feed at the front or back ensures that guests won’t experience any seasickness from the view. 

Video plays 24/7 on the cruise, showing views like the ship coming into port in the mornings, or even black space at night.

Royal Caribbean created these rooms to mimic the feeling of having a balcony as closely as possible.

The screen has curtains in front of it, just like a real balcony would. 

You can also turn the virtual balcony on and off at your own discretion, enjoying a view whenever you feel like it.

The cabins even have a computer-generated balcony overlay to give guests the perspective of a real balcony stateroom.

Natural sounds are also piped in to mimic the atmosphere that guests would have while staying in a real balcony stateroom. 

But in a virtual balcony cabin, the volume can be adjusted or even turned off.

The ambiance also ensures that guests can enjoy natural views without sacrificing the climate control and cheaper prices of an inside cabin.

Why stay in a virtual balcony cabin?

A virtual balcony provides the benefit of solving the disadvantages of staying in an inside cabin while being available at a similar price.

You can pay the cheap price of an inside cabin, but not have the struggle of living without windows and natural light.

The screen brightens an otherwise gloomy style of stateroom.

A virtual balcony screen pipes in natural lighting and ambient noises. Guests can enjoy the views of the ocean without leaving the comfort of their stateroom.

You can even glance at the screen and see the weather before getting dressed in the morning.

You’ll also know right away if the ship has docked at a port, or started to leave.

Cruise cabins become your home for the length of the cruise, so it’s important to balance budget and comfort.

A virtual balcony stateroom appeals to both, available at the price of an inside cabin while providing comfort through technological advances.

Where can I find a virtual balcony?


This innovative stateroom category was first pioneered on Quantum of the Seas in 2014 and can be found on all Quantum-Class ships. 

These staterooms have since been added to more ships, including some older vessels.

Virtual balcony staterooms are located on the following Royal Caribbean ships:

  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Odyssey of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Spectrum of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Utopia of the Seas
  • Voyager of the Seas
  • Wonder of the Seas

All ships with the virtual balcony category have at least ten available, ensuring that you should receive one if you book it ahead of time.

Read more: I stayed in the cheapest virtual balcony cabin on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas. Look inside my $137 a night room.

How does the virtual balcony work?

The tech behind the virtual balcony screens took a team of network and software engineers to develop.

Making the virtual balconies work was no easy task because of a variety of ship-specific needs that were not available when the project was first being developed.

Read more: An inside look behind the making of Royal Caribbean's virtual balcony

It took a lot behind the scenes to make the virtual balcony happen.

First, the team had to start by finding a camera that would run indefinitely.

They settled on using two RED Epic cinematic cameras, which are currently what Royal Caribbean uses to provide the view of the ocean.

Virtual balcony room

These cameras have fantastic dynamic range and can support up to 240 frames per second.

The camera picks up just about what the human eye could see.

For example, on evenings when there is no moon, the human eye would see nothing but darkness on a real balcony—so the same is true for the view on a virtual balcony screen.

 But if you would be able to look outside and see the moonlight reflecting on the waves, that would be reflected by the virtual balcony’s cameras.

The virtual balcony receives the feed and displays it on 80" 4K LED Sharp Aquos screens in each stateroom.  

Do you want to stay in a virtual balcony stateroom on your next Royal Caribbean cruise? Tell us in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean Virtual Balcony everything you wanted to know

Top 10 Freedom of the Seas hidden secrets

03 Aug 2015

One of Royal Caribbean's most popular cruise ships is Freedom of the Seas and we have searched all over this ship for the best hidden secrets that you might miss on this impressive ship.

10. Best spot for sailaway

If you want the best spot on Freedom of the Seas to watch as she pulls out of port, then it has to be the helicopter pad at the front of the ship.

Located on the bow, guests can walk to the helicopter pad and enjoy the unobstructed views that you can only get from the helicopter pad.  The perspective from this spot is hard to beat and many guests do not know it is possible to go here.

To access the helicopter pad, go outside on deck 4 and then walk forward, climb up a set of stairs and continue walking forward until you reach the helicopter pad.

9. Hidden door to the helipad

Speaking of the helipad, if you want to avoid the stairs that lead up to the front of the ship, there is a secret door that will get you right there.

Walk all the way forward on Deck 5 and enter the Star Lounge.  In the daytime, it is usually empty.  Enter the lounge and take an immediate right, just past the DJ booth.

There's a set of unmarkes doors that you can simply open up an you will be let out right next to the helipad.  

This is especially helpful if you have a stroller or are in a wheelchair and stairs are a problem.

8. Second best spot for sailaway

A good alternative spot for sailaway that is less windy than the helipad (and has no stairs) are the little observation areas on deck 11 near the Solarium.

Go up to deck 11 and walk all the way forward.  Once in the Solarium, adjacent to the doors that lead to the elevator lobby are glass doors you must open manually.  

Inside is a small "room", with windows that look outwards and even some chairs to sit in.  This can be a great, uncrowded spot to enjoy sailaway.

7. Enjoy the view from Olive or Twist

It is really hard to beat the views of Freedom of the Seas' upper decks from the Olive or Twist Lounge.

Located on deck 14 at the aft of the ship the Olive or Twist lounge offers guests sweeping views of the upper decks and the ocean.  

To get to Olive or Twist, you must use the aft elevators and go up to deck 14.

6. Get a taste of it all at FreedomFest

An event unique to Freedom of the Seas is something called FreedomFest, where the Royal Promenade offers guests a little of everything unique on Freedom of the Seas.

There will be food and drink stations available, as well as towel and napkin folding demonstrations, watermelon carving, photos with the ship's officers, and more.

It is basically like a "best of" from the week's events held in one spot. 

FreedomFest is held on the Royal Promenade and is usually done on one of the last sea days of your cruise.  Check the Cruise Compass for more information.

5. Sun yourself on the St. Tropez deck

If you want to get that perfect tan or just enjoy being outside without all the noise of the pool deck (or the crowds), head up the St. Tropez deck.

Walk up to deck 12 and then walk all the way forward.  You will see a large open area with some deck chairs that you can use to enjoy a mostly uncrowded sun bathing spot.

What is special about the St. Tropez deck is there tends to be not many guests here at all, leaving it rather tranquil.  

4. Best parade spot

The DreamWorks parade on Freedom of the Seas is a terrific opportunity to see and meet the popular stars from hit DreamWorks films.

If you want a good spot to enjoy the parade and ensure your kids have a good chance to be close to the characters, try in front of the Bull and Bear pub.

The pub has tables outside the pub that you can sit at in the time leading up to the parade and since other families do not consider a pub the first spot to bring kids to for a parade, it can remain overlooked.

Once the parade is about to begin, stand up from your seats and you will be up front for all the action.  In addition, the pub is located right in the middle of the parade route.

3. Find the coolest mixed drinks here

These days, Royal Caribbean offers its guests a lot of opportunities to buy alcoholic beverages but the best place to find the most interesting mixed drinks has to be up on the pool deck on the port side.

This one spot near the main pool consistently serves up more than just mixed drinks.  You will find the neatest souvenir mugs as well as interesting choices for drinks that we could never find anywhere else onboard.

On one day, they were making mixed drinks that you could drink out of a hollowed out pineapple, and other days had different light up or color changing mugs.

Look for a stand on deck 11 at the main pool, close to the Solarium.  The choices available change daily, so be sure to ask about what is coming up and when.

2. Ride the FlowRider on embarkation day

Guests cannot seem to get enough of the FlowRider surf simulator on Freedom of the Seas.  It is really fun to try and learn to surf without having to wait for that perfect wave but there always seems to be a line.

To beat the lines, go to the FlowRider on embarkation day.  Bring your swimsuit in your carryon luggage (or wear it to the ship) and then head to the FlowRider in the afternoon.  

Most other guests onboard will not have their swim suits or even be aware the FlowRider is open.  It is the perfect time to get multiple rides in without little or no wait!

1. Book the Ben & Jerry's Suite

Photo by David Fiske

If you want a stateroom with some real character, try the "Ben & Jerry's Sweet" Promenade stateroom.

Stateroom 6305 may not appear different on the deck plans, but it one of the most unusual staterooms available anywhere.

Located directly above the Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop on the Royal Promenade, the sweet has a view of the Royal Promenade blocked by the two cows that make up the ice cream shop's recognizable facade.

Inside the stateroom, you will find a cow motif, with cow-sheets, pillows, cow, cow's picture on the wall and much more.

Booking this stateroom also gets you coupons for free Ben & Jerry's ice cream as well as access to the Concierge Lounge (for passengers over 18 years), which are otherwise only available to passengers reserved for those who booked a suite.

Did we miss any Freedom of the Seas secrets? Share them in our comments!

Coca-Cola Freestyle machines on Royal Caribbean

20 Jul 2015
Matt Hochberg

When you sail on your next Royal Caribbean ship, there is a good chance you will find Coca-Cola's amazing self-serve beverage dispensers known as the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine.

The Freestyle machine offers guests 100+ flavors of various Coca-Cola products that you can mix together to create the perfect drink for you.  Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line to offer Freestyle machines.

In order to use the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, guests must purchase an all-inclusive beverage package or the Royal refreshment package and use their complimentary Coca-Cola souvenir cup. The Coca-Cola souvenir cup has a special chip in it which activates the machine.

The following Royal Caribbean ships have Coca-Cola Freestyle Machines

  • Adventure of the Seas 
  • Allure of the Seas 
  • Anthem of the Seas 
  • Enchantment of the Seas 
  • Explorer of the Seas 
  • Freedom of the Seas 
  • Grandeur of the Seas 
  • Harmony of the Seas 
  • Independence of the Seas 
  • Jewel of the Seas 
  • Mariner of the Seas 
  • Navigator of the Seas 
  • Oasis of the Seas 
  • Odyssey of the Seas
  • Quantum of the Seas 
  • Ovation of the Seas 
  • Rhapsody of the Seas 
  • Symphony of the Seas 
  • Wonder of the Seas

It seems that Freestyle machines are only available in the United States, Canada and limited availability in the UK and Europe and Royal Caribbean has added the machines to ships based mostly in the United States.

Using the Freestyle machines is pretty simple too, you pick a base flavor (like Coke or Fanta) and you can customize the drink with fruit flavors (Orange Coke or Orange Fanta, Lime Fanta, etc).  You can also stop a drink mid-pour by just releasing the dispense button and select another drink to mix two together. So if you want to mix Orange Fanta with Mello Yello Grape you can!

Some of the base flavors available to choose from are Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, Sprite, Sprite Zero, Fanta, Fanta Zero, Minute Maid Lemonade, Minute Maid Light, Dasani, Dasani Sensations, Powerade, Powerade Zero, Hi-C, Barq's, Diet Barq's and Seagram's Lemon Lime Seltzer. and more.

The special souvenir Coca-Cola cups that Royal Caribbean sells also has a time restriction, which prevents guests from getting refills until 10-15 minutes have passed since their last pour.  This time restriction is to prevent abuse of the Freestyle machine privileges.

Use of the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines is available with a few unlimited drink packages:

  • Royal Refreshment package
    • $8.00 per day, per guest
  • Royal Replenish package
    • $22.42 per person, per day (includes service charge)
  • All of the Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol packages
    • Unlimited alcohol packages begin at $42 per person, per day

Have you tried the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines on your Royal Caribbean cruise? Thinking about using them on your next cruise? Tell us about it in the comments!

Top five things to do after booking a Royal Caribbean cruise

29 Jun 2015

You have decided on the right Royal Caribbean cruise for you, made a deposit on your sailing and have your stateroom reserved just for you. What should you do next?

Planning a Royal Caribbean cruise can be a fun exercise in planning, as you discover there is a lot to do before you ever set foot on your ship.  

Once you have your cruise booked, here are five things you should look into as your next step and really jump into the pre-cruise excitement!

1. Select your dining preference

Dinner on a Royal Caribbean cruise has a few options to choose from, and you will want to make sure you pick the option you want.  Depending on your ship, there can be a few choices: traditional, My Time Dining or Dynamic Dining.

Traditional dining is where you have a set time each night of your cruise, where you will be seated at the same table in the main dining room and have the same wait staff and table mates.  This is the most common choice available and is also the most widely available option.  There are two times, early and late seating.

My Time Dining takes place in the Main Dining Room as well, but instead of a fixed time and table, you reserve times during the evening or show up and get the first available table.  My Time Dining allows for more flexibility in when you eat, but requires more planning to ensure you have a spot each night to dine at.

Dynamic Dining is the newest choice, and is available on Quantum class ships currently.  There is no Main Dining Room, but instead you have a choice among complimentary and specialty restaurants to book reservations at.  You can pick the same restaurant or as many as you want, with different waiters and times each evening.

To enroll in any of these options for your cruise, contact your travel agent or Royal Caribbean directly and request the one you want. There can be times where the choice you want is full, but you can request to be put on a wait list and in our experience, wait list requests usually are fulfilled.

2. Register your cruise on My Cruises

In order to gain access to all of Royal Caribbean's pre-cruise planning options online, you will want to register yourself on Royal Caribbean's web site and tie your reservation to your account.

If you have not done so already, create a My Cruises account on Royal Caribbean's web site. It's free and should take just a few minutes to complete.

Log into your account and then add an existing reservation to your My Cruises account.

Now, you will have access to every detail of your sailing, including shore excursions, beverage packages, entertainment, dining reservations and more.

3. Research your pre-cruise transportation

We recommend arriving to your cruise embarkation port at least one day early, to avoid transportation delays that can potentially cause you to miss your cruise.

For those that are flying on an airplane to your cruise, booking airfare in advance is a good idea.  It is also a good idea to research a hotel to stay at and lock in a price now before others do the same.

Depending on the port you are leaving from, there can be lots of hotels and resorts to choose from.  Use consumer review web sites to find which hotel will offer you the amenities you want for the price you can afford.  

It is easy to overlook your pre-cruise transportation and lodging and then have to pay more than you should later.

4. Review your travel documents

Before you can get onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, you will need to provide local authorities the proper documentation to prove who you are, and you definitely do not want to arrive at the pier missing something important.

Research what proof of identification you may need for everyone in your party, such as birth certificates, drivers licenses and/or passports.  If you are traveling to another country for your cruise, look into if you will need to apply for a visa.

Processing times for documents like visas and passports can take weeks, if not months, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get any necessary documents ready for your sail date.

5. Research if you should purchase travel insurance

Insurance is one of things that you do not think of until you need it and then it is worth every penny.  The thing is, not everyone needs travel insurance but you should look into what travel insurance offers and if you are at an elevated risk and would benefit from it.

Royal Caribbean offers travel insurance, as well as many third party companies.  Read exactly what the insurance covers and the scenarios in which you can make a claim.  It is important to be aware that travel insurance does not cover every scenario, but issues such as personal illness, death of a family member, airline delays, lost baggage and more are common times when insurance will be of great benefit.

There is no easy way to determine who does and who does not need travel insurance, but you should at least consider the option now to safeguard yourself in the future.  

7 Royal Caribbean drink of the day recipes

29 Jun 2015
Matt Hochberg

Enjoying a refreshing drink on your Royal Caribbean cruise is something many folks look forward to, but just because you are not on a cruise right now does not mean you cannot enjoy the same drinks at home!

Blog reader Paul Westbrook sent us recipes for the drink of the day for each day of his Freedom of the Seas cruise.

Each day of a cruise, Royal Caribbean selects one tasty cocktail to be the drink of the day, where the price of the drink is reduced a bit and featured all over the ship.

So get those blenders ready and enjoy these great drinks!

Tropical Sunset


  • .75 oz Smirnoff vodka
  • .75 oz peach scnapps
  • .75 oz Chambord black raspberry liqueur
  • 1.5 oz cranberry juice
  • 1.5 oz pineapple juice


Shake and mix well.

Blue Caribbean


  • 1.25 oz Bacardi superior rum
  • .75 oz blue curacao
  • 3 oz pineapple juice


Served on the rocks with a splash of sprite

Paradise Punch


  • .75 oz Bacardi rum
  • .75 oz cocounut rum
  • .5 oz peach snapps
  • 1.5 oz pineapple and cranberry juices


Shake and serve on the rocks.

Strawberry Hill Mojito


  • 1.5 oz Bacardi superior rum
  • 1 oz mojito mix
  • 1 oz Island Oasis Strawberry


Top with soda water

Tropical Lemondae


  • 1.25 oz Smirnoff vodka
  • .75 oz blue curacao


Serve on the rocks

Mayan Mango Margarita


  • 1.25 oz Jose Cuervo gold tequila
  • 1.5 oz Island Oasis mango
  • .75 oz triple sec
  • Sweet & Sour mix


Shake tequila and mago juice together and then add triple sec and sweet & sour mix.

Caribbean Tea


  • .5 oz Smirnoff vodka
  • .5 oz Bacardi superior rum
  • .5 oz gin
  • .5 oz sweet blue curacao
  • 2 oz sweet & sour mix


Top with Sprite and serve on the rocks.

Johnny Rockets on Royal Caribbean ships

22 Jun 2015

Many Royal Caribbean cruise ships offer guests the opportunity to dine at Johnny Rockets, a retro-inspired restaurant where you’ll feel like you stepped back in time to an era of sock hops, soda fountains and drive-in theaters.  

Johnny Rockets has been working with Royal Caribbean since 1999, when the first Johnny Rockets debuted on Voyager of the Seas. Since then, Johnny Rockets has spread to over a dozen cruise ships.


When you step inside a Johnny Rockets, you will find a recreation of an American diner from the 1950's.  

Johnny Rockets on Freedom of the Seas

Walking into the diner, you will find booths with red vinyl seats opposite a long counter of white tile with chrome trim.  You will hear music from the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's that play continuously. 

The crew members working at Johnny Rockets look the part as well, with their paper hats and long white aprons.  

In fact, the crew members will stop what they are doing and jump into a line dance for certain songs.

Johnny Rockets on Quantum of the Seas

On the Quantum class ships, the set up is more open.  Instead of an enclosed restaurant, you will find an open air restaurant on the pool deck where you place your order at the counter and then wait for your food to be prepared and can eat it in the restaurant or take it elsewhere on the ship.


On most ships, Johnny Rockets comes with a cover charge of $6.95 per person that includes most food on the menu  You will be able to eat as much as you care to order.  Milk shakes and other beverages come with an extra cost.  

On the Quantum class cruise ships, Johnny Rockets does not have a cover charge and instead has an a la carte menu, where each item on the menu has an individual cost.

Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society members will often get a coupon to dine at Johnny Rockets, which is usually a free cover charge.

The basics

On ships that offer Johnny Rockets, when the restaurant is open, guests can go dine there at any time and will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis.

There is seating in booths, at the counter and also outside the restaurant (weather permitting). 

As you are seated, you will be handed a menu by your waiter and have a choice between hamburgers, melts, hot dogs, sandwiches, fries, onion rings and more.

Each table is given a side of onion rings and french fries to start with, before your main courses arrive.

Breakfast too

On Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, Johnny Rockets is open for breakfast and it's complimentary.

For breakfast, Johnny Rockets serves up fried or scrambled eggs, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, french toast, omelettes and more.

Juice, milk, coffee, tea and hot chocolate are included in the meal as well.

Ships with Johnny Rockets

  • Voyager of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Majesty of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas

Have you eaten at Johnny Rockets on a Royal Caribbean ship? Let us know in the comments!

Royal Caribbean’s My Time Dining: What you need to know

04 Jun 2015
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has a flexible dinner option called My Time Dining that is perfect for someone that wants to be able to have dinner at different times of the evening.


It's a simple program where you get to eat in the main dining room on your own schedule.  All of the mainstream cruise lines offer something like this, but Royal Caribbean has its own twist.

Here's what you need to know about My Time Dining.

What is My Time Dining?

Main dining room on Symphony of the Seas

Essentially, My Time Dining is a program where for dinner in the main dining room, you can select times to eat between the hours of 6:00 and 9:30 p.m.

It differs from traditional dinner, where you have the same time, table, and waiters every night of your cruise.

With My Time Dining, you can choose a different time each day, so you can fit dinner around the rest of your onshore and onboard plans. You can pre-book a time or show up and wait for an available table.

For example, you could have dinner at 8:30pm on the first night of the cruise and then have dinner at 6pm on the second night. Just like traditional dining times, you can skip the main dining room all together and eat at a specialty restaurant or the buffet.

There is a maximum of 10 guests per reservation.

Are the menus the same for My Time Dining as they are for traditional dinner?

MDR food

Yes, it's exactly the same menu for both traditional and My Time Dining.

How to opt-in for My Time Dining

Main dining room family

Booking My Time Dining is simple, you can select it as your dining option when making your cruise reservation or at any time prior to your cruise by contacting Royal Caribbean or your travel agent.

When selecting My Time Dining, you must pre-pay all gratuities in advance.

How to book a reservation


It is recommended that you make reservations in advance of your sailing if you prefer to dine at the most popular times, between 6:30pm and 8pm.

You can make reservations onboard your ship, although there will be less reservations available by that time and typically the crew members will try to steer you to keeping the same time each night.

In general, the larger the group, the less flexibility you have to modify your dining time.

If you don’t get the time you prefer initially, keep checking back to see if you can change your dining time.  Even during the cruise, time slots open up.

Read moreHow to book My Time Dining on Royal Caribbean

Onboard your cruise

Main dining room

On your Royal Caribbean ship, there is one deck of the main dining room dedicated to My Time Dining.  

You arrive at the main dining room at your reserved time to be seated.  You can optionally arrive without reservations, but you should be prepared to wait for a table. Often, this wait can be up to an hour.

If you are more than 5 minutes late, your table may be given away to a stand by group

Who is My Time Dining good for?

Couple in main dining room

Generally speaking, My Time Dining is great for those that think dinner before 6pm is too early and 8pm as too late. Additionally, My Time Dining is good for those that may want to change their time for dinner depending on their plans for the day.

The evening shows aboard the ship are more structured for those in early and late traditional seating.

The challenge is to try and book way ahead to get the limited number of slots available between 6:30pm and say 7:45pm.

Does My Time Dining "favor" small groups or large groups?

Main Dining Room

Smaller groups provide the greatest flexibility. There is usually just a few tables for 6 or more when you’re asking for a table for just your group.

As an example, on a cruise on Independence of the Seas last year, there was only one table for 10 guests, so there was not much wiggle room for changing times.

How important are reservations? 

Food in main dining room

Without reservations, how important reservations are depend on your table size.

If you are up to two guests, you may not have much of a wait to get a table.  Groups of 4 or more and you have to wait 30-60 minutes until a table is ready.

The crew members will give you a pager to let you know when your table is ready but going to dinner without My Time Reservations is a gamble in terms of how long you will be seated, especially if you are trying to eat during the prime hours of 6pm to 8pm.

Is it possible to get the same waiters every night with My Time Dining?

MDR on Navigator of the Seas

If you make reservations for the same time every night, it is more likely you will have the same wait staff.

You may request a certain waiter each night, although it may increase your wait time, even if you have a reserved time.

Altering your dinner time will increase the change substantially of getting a different pair of waiters in our experience.

Can I request a table for two people?

Table for two

Yes! That does not mean you will get a table for two, but the crew members will try their best to accommodate your request.

Just like at a restaurant at home, you may need to wait for a table for two to open up. 

Your best bet is to make reservations in advance, as those with a reservation already seem to get preferred treatment over people that show up and ask for a specific table.

If you want to have a table for two every night of your cruise, my advice is to ask the head waiter to assist.

Can I change to early or late dinner during my cruise if I don't like My Time Dining?

Main Dining

Possibly, but it all depends on availability. 

You could certainly book the same time every night of your cruise and effectively re-create the traditional dinner experience.  The "catch" is My Time Dinner starts later than early seating, so you would not be able to replicate quite as early a time window.

If you're not liking My Time Dining, the first thing to do is speak to the head waiter and address the problem.  In many cases, there could be a simpler solution that changing you to another type of dining.

A big thank you to Ken Slusser for assisting in writing this blog post!

Royal Caribbean Gratuities: What you need to know

19 May 2015
Matt Hochberg

When you take a Royal Caribbean cruise, one of the costs to passengers are gratuities (tips) to crew members during your cruise.  Gratuities are the way guests can recognize great service aboard their cruise.

Guest services

We provide this guide to help you understand how gratuities work on the cruise, when you can expect to pay them and how much it is.

Automatic gratuities

Main Dining Room

Royal Caribbean automatically adds a daily charge to each cruise passenger's SeaPass account to reward the great service its passengers receive.  

Each day of your cruise, Royal Caribbean will add a charge per person that will be divided among several people that you interact with likely on a daily basis:

  • stateroom attendant
  • head waiter
  • waiter
  • assistant waiter

As of November 11, 2023, the daily gratuity amount is $16.00 per guest, per day for those guests in standard accommodations.  Guests in suites will pay $20.50 per person, per day in gratuities.  The daily gratuity amount is the same for all passengers, regardless of age.

Guests have the choice to pre-pay their gratuities before their cruise to help split up the cost of their cruise vacation.

If you are a My Time Dining guest, you must prepay your gratuities.  

In addition, if a guest feels they want to alter the amount of gratuity they pay, guests can go to Guest Services aboard their cruise ship and ask to have their automatic gratuity charges changed or removed. 

How to pre-pay gratuities

Pre-paying gratuities allows you to lock in the current gratuity rate, as well as assist in budgeting the total vacation cost by having part of the cost be paid at different times.

Pre-paying gratuities is a simple process. If you booked directly with Royal Caribbean, you can pre-pay gratuities by calling 866-562-7625 or logging into Royal Caribbean's website before the sailing.

If you booked with a travel agent, simply let the travel agent know your preference and they can take care of the arrangements.

Beverage gratuities

If you order beverage onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, such as alcohol, you will be charged an automatic 18% gratuity when you receive the bill.

The gratuity amount is for the service you receive from the wait staff to serve your drink.  The gratuity amount is added to what you purchase and indicated at the bottom of your receipt.

You can add an additional tip on the receipt if you wish. 

Specialty restaurants

The surcharge you pay to dine at a specialty restaurant aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise includes the tip.

There is no need to pay a tip on top of the surcharge amount, unless you would like to.

Discretionary gratuities

In addition to the gratuities listed earlier, there are opportunities to give crew members an additional tip for excellent service.  

As the name implies, this is up to you and not expected in all cases.  Even crew members who receive an automatic gratuity can receive additional gratuities if you feel it is warranted.

Some instances where a discretionary tip may be appropriate are for room service deliveries or luggage service by porters.

You can remove the auto gratuities

As previously noted, Royal Caribbean will automatically charge you for every night of the cruise but that does not mean you have to pay it if you are not satisfied with the service. 

You can go to Guest Services at any point in your cruise and have them reduced or removed from your account if you would prefer to tip a different amount.

WOW Cards

While a monetary tip is always appreciated, if you want to recognize great service by a Royal Caribbean crew member that will have a lasting effect on their career, fill out a WOW card.

Royal Caribbean will sometimes dispense to guests at check-in special cards to write about why a particular crew member went above and beyond the kind of service you might expect.  A guest can fill out the card, give it to the crew member and the crew member will then turn the card into their manager, which will in turn be placed on their permanent file.

WOW cards can help elevate crew members when it comes time for promotions and help their careers in the long run. 

If you do not receive a WOW card at check-in, you can go to Guest Services and request them.