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6 mistakes I saw people make on my spring break cruise

25 Mar 2024
Matt Hochberg

No matter the cruise, there's always going to be a large contingent of first-time cruisers that inevitably make mistakes.

Wonder of the Seas at CocoCay

I took my family on a 7-night cruise on Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas for spring break. It's an annual cruise tradition, as taking the kids out of school during the course of the calendar year gets more difficult as they get older.

Spring break has its pros and cons to sailing this time of year, but we find the comfortable outdoor temperatures, lack of tropical storms, and built-in time off as good reasons to sail this month.

Matt at Laser Tag

Over the span of the week, I ran into many cruisers and couldn't help but notice some of the clearly new ones struggling with things I think could have been avoided. I'm far from perfect, but I've gotten a lot better at avoiding common pitfalls from experience. Therefore, I think it's helpful to share with our readers ways they can improve too.

Here are the six mistakes I saw first-time cruisers committing on my cruise.  These are the ones I witnessed, although I'm sure other first-time cruise mistakes were being committed elsewhere. 

Not knowing it's spring break

Royal Promenade

This may seem obvious, but there are always a few people genuinely surprised to be on a spring break cruise. Maybe it's because where they are from, spring break is a different week of the year. Or they don't think of March as when spring break might happen.

There were about 1700 children on our spring break cruise. To be clear, a ship like Wonder of the Seas would have been full if it were spring break or not. The difference is you have more kids than other weeks, but all the cabins would have been sold out one way or another given how popular cruising is, and how cruise lines sell their ships to sail at full capacity every week as a matter of economics.

Spring break might seem like it's one or two weeks, but in reality, it encompasses a few months.  Most people consider spring break season to begin in mid-February when it's President's Day weekend in the United States and go all the way through Easter.

Wonder of the Seas docked

That means you'll find spring breakers cruising anytime in late February, March, or early April. Depending on when Easter falls on the calendar, the season can be longer or shorter. You should expect more kids on the ship any of these weeks.

One way to double check is to spot check school calendars, especially if you're on the fringe of spring break. Google your own hometown school calendar, as well as a few others. For what it's worth, Orange County schools in Florida had their spring break beginning on March 18, while Osceola County had theirs March 11.

The good news is you don't get the rowdy college spring breakers on a 7-night cruise, as much as you would on a 4-night cruise. However, there are definitely more families onboard and that just means lines for the water slides, laser tag, or hot tub might be longer.

If you truly want to avoid a spring break cruise, try a cruise in January, early February, or May.

Not checking in online

Inside the cruise terminal

As I barely stopped in my cruise check-in process, I couldn't help but shake my head at the folks who had to stop and have the terminal staff enter their paperwork for boarding.

Royal Caribbean allows you to start checking in for your cruise up to 45 days before the cruise begins, and you really should do all the pre-cruise check-in steps while you're at home (or work, I promise not to tell your boss).

In short, the time it takes to enter your travel information in the app at home is time saved in the terminal. I'm willing to bet it's faster for you to enter the information than the terminal staff can do it.

Whether it saves you five minutes or an hour, I personally would rather expedite the process to get on the ship and not start my vacation with an unnecessary line.

Read more: Royal Caribbean check-in process

Not specifying liquor brand when ordering a drink

Pouring drink at the bar

Whether you buy a Royal Caribbean drink package or not, when you tell the bartender which drink you'd like, always specify the brand of liquor.

All too often, I see someone come up to the bar and ask for "a pina colada" or "a bloody mary" and not ask for Kraken rum or Tito's vodka.

When you ask for a liquor, you're almost always going to get the cheapest brand of liquor they have (better known as "well liquor"). It won't be nearly as smooth, and usually results in that cringe face after the first few sips.

Don't worry, most types of liquor are included with a drink package.  Unless you're asking for something super top shelf, it won't affect the price.

Read more: Avoid these Royal Caribbean drink package mistakes

Choosing My Time Dining

Line for My Time Dining

This next one isn't so much of a mistake, as it is something to think about for next time.

When you choose which dining time for dinner on your cruise, you have to pick between Traditional or My Time Dining.  There are pros and cons to both, but I really felt bad for the folks in My Time Dining.

When I walked past the Main Dining Room on Deck 4 at 6:30pm, there were two giant lines that went almost back into the casino.

Line for My Time Dining

I went back a half hour later to check, and the line had subsided, but hadn't gone away.

My Time Dining is a good choice for those that want flexibility in when they eat, but understand you may have to wait for a table.

Too much fun in the sun

Cabana pool

To be fair, experienced cruisers succumb to the sunburn just as easily as a new cruiser. But it seems like new cruisers tend to end up with that "lobster glow" more often.

Even though it's only March, the sun is strong and a sunburn is something no one wants.

Not only should you remember to apply sunscreen before you start your day on shore, but you need to re-apply. A lot.

Matt at Hideaway Beach

Every two hours or so is a good idea, and you want to take a break to avoid getting burned.  Once you're burned, it can be really uncomfortable for the next few days.  

Similarly, it's easy to start having a great time relaxing in the ocean or pool, but be sure to take breaks and remember to not over do it. 

Eating before you start day drinking is always a solid bet, and pace yourself. It's easy to get swept up in the fun and keep the drinks flowing, but drink responsibly so you don't end up being "that guy" later in the day.

Read more: 22 unpleasant cruise ship problems you aren't prepared for

Keeping luggage tags on bags on final night

Both luggage tags on the suitcase

At first I thought there was just one person that did this, but then I saw lots of bags.

The luggage tags you attached to your bag on embarkation should not be on your bags still when it's time to leave the luggage out on the final night of the cruise.

I have no idea how often (if at all) this really gets anyone into trouble with their luggage being lost, but if removing the original luggage tags is definitely a good practice to get into so there is absolutely no confusion if a piece of luggage in the cruise terminal is for a guest disembarking or a new guest boarding the ship.

I stayed in the cheapest cabin on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas for $463 a night. Take a look inside my 172-square-foot cabin

25 Mar 2024
Angie Vognild

I just returned from a spring break cruise onboard the beautiful Harmony of the Seas. During this sailing, we departed from Galveston, Texas, and visited destinations in the Western Caribbean.

Harmony of the Seas interior cabin

My friend joined me on this cruise, and we wanted to stay in the cheapest cabin available. The cheapest option was an interior guarantee, which is usually the case when looking for a cabin on a cruise. This is normally the cheapest option because you cannot select the location of your cabin on the ship - the cruise line assigns you an open cabin.

Harmony of the Seas in Roatan, Honduras

The cost of our interior guarantee cabin came out to be $3,243.88 for the two of us, and this included prepaid gratuities. In other words, it cost $463 per night, or $232 per person, per night during our seven-night voyage.

Keep in mind that we did book this cruise rather last minute (two months ahead of the sail date) and it was during spring break, so the cost was much higher than the other sailings offered. We were both available to sail only during this certain week, otherwise, if we had sailed a week or so after our sailing, we could’ve saved hundreds of dollars.

Harmony of the Seas vanity and closet

Soon after booking this cruise, we were assigned cabin 10673 on deck 10, which is an interior cabin located toward the aft of the ship. When glancing at the floor plans of Harmony of the Seas online, it appeared that this cabin was in an ideal location because it wasn't too far in the aft or forward of the ship. However, once I discovered our cabin was above Dazzles on deck 9, I was slightly worried about the noise we would hear.

Front door of our cabin on Harmony of the Seas

Dazzles is a multi-level venue on Harmony of the Seas with music groups performing live each evening. Although our cabin was located above the venue, I was worried about not being able to sleep at night due to the thumping of the music.

Other than this small worry of mine, I had a feeling our cabin would be just fine for our trip!

Harmony of the Seas cabin 10673

Something I noticed once onboard was that the cabins are color-coded on the map and on each cabin door. Our cabin was located in the yellow area of the ship, or the starboard and aft side of the ship. This was something I had never noticed before on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. It was helpful to reference when walking around because we always knew what side of the ship we had to go to get back to our cabin.

Harmony of the Seas cabin map

My first impression of the 172-square-foot cabin was that it was modern with dark accents. I also felt the cabin was smaller than the recent interior cabin I had on Odyssey of the Seas, but I think this is because of the different layout.

Harmony of the Seas interior cabin

It appeared that a key was needed to power the cabin’s lights and air conditioning. There was already a spare key in the slot on the first day and we never removed it during our voyage.

Harmony of the Seas lights and power

The cabin’s lights were controlled by a switch near the bathroom. The bathroom light switch was below the main cabin switch, and this often confused my friend and I because we would forget which light switch controlled what! The bathroom light would glow blue when it was switched on, so that was one way we could tell the difference.

Harmony of the Seas door and power

The beds were separated based on the request I made prior to the cruise. Our cabin also included a chair, vanity, closet, TV, and bathroom. I thought there was a great amount of storage for our clothes.

Harmony of the Seas interior cabin

Every night of my cruise, I slept well in the bed. I thought it was very comfortable and plush. And if you were wondering, our cabin was not noisy! I never heard music from Dazzles in our cabin, which was a relief.

Harmony of the Seas beds

On both sides of the bed was a small nightstand. My nightstand had the cabin’s phone, which I put on the ground because I wanted to use the top shelf for my own items. There was also a light above each of our beds that could be turned on and off with a small button.

Harmony of the Seas bed, phone, and light

Only one side of the bed had an outlet (my friend’s side). I had an extra long phone charger, so I was able to connect my phone using the vanity’s outlets and still have it charging next to me while I slept. I wish both sides of the bed had an outlet!

Harmony of the Seas cabin outlet by bed

Next to my friend’s bed was a small chair and a full-length mirror. On the recent cruises where I’ve sailed in an interior guarantee cabin (like Adventure of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas), there is usually a couch instead of a chair. I am glad we had somewhere to sit other than the bed, but I think a couch would’ve been more spacious and something we both would’ve used.

Harmony of the Seas chair

The vanity had multiple charging outlets and drawers to store our belongings. The vanity included three US outlets, one European outlet, and two USB outlets. Unfortunately, the USB outlets did not work in our cabin, so we never used them.

Harmony of the Seas outlets

There were five drawers on the vanity, and one of them stored the hair dryer, room service menu, and other cruise documents that were meant to stay in the cabin. The largest drawer housed the cabin’s mini cooler, which we used to keep our water cold throughout the cruise.

Harmony of the Seas vanity and drawers
Harmony of the Seas cooler

Above the drawers was a large flat-screen TV. This TV was not able to move or swivel, which I was surprised about because that meant we couldn't see what was on the TV unless we were sitting on the chair or standing in front of it. If we were in bed, it was hard to see what was on the TV, especially my bed that was on the same side as the TV.

Harmony of the Seas TV

Next to the vanity was a closet. There were essentially two sides to the closet - one with shelves (including a safe) and the other with just hangers.

Harmony of the Seas closet and safe

The closet was large and could fit a lot, but I wish there were more hangers because I would’ve hung up more of my clothes. We only had 12 hangers to share between the two of us. In hindsight, we should’ve asked our cabin steward for more hangers!

Harmony of the Seas closet

Across from the closet was the bathroom. The bathroom was very similar to the other interior cabins I have stayed in - there was a toilet, sink, some shelves, and a shower.

Harmony of the Seas bathroom

While I usually have no complaints about the cabin bathroom, I will say that I wish there was another towel rack! We had one, but I think having one more would’ve been nice. 

Also, our shower’s drain wasn't super fast, so every time one of us would shower, a large puddle of water would form below the toilet and near the shower. This isn’t a huge deal, but since we had to use lots of towels to clean up the floor, having another towel rack would’ve been great for hanging up our many used towels.

Harmony of the Seas shower

The bathroom had a built-in nightlight so you could use the bathroom in the middle of the night without turning the main lights on. This was handy!

Nightlight inside bathroom

There were a few areas in the cabin that reflected its age (even though Harmony of the Seas is only eight years old and completed a dry dock in 2021). The headboard and wall near the TV had some dripping stains. We tried to clean them off but they didn't come off so they must've been there for a while! 

Stain on headboard
Dripping stain in cabin

There was also a stain on the vanity chair. 

Harmony of the Seas vanity chair

Other than these things, the cabin was in good condition.

If I had the choice, I would certainly stay in this cabin again. I would also recommend it to others who are considering a cruise on Harmony of the Seas. We spent most of our day exploring the ship anyway, so we only spent time in the cabin for sleeping, relaxing, or changing outfits for the day.

Harmony of the Seas interior cabin

Of course, there are a few small things that I wish were different about the cabin, especially the slow shower drain and inoperable USB ports. 

Overall, it was a great home away from home for our seven-night cruise to the Western Caribbean! 

Royal Caribbean News Round-Up March 24, 2024

24 Mar 2024
Calista Kiper

This was a busy week with Royal Caribbean news, and we have a summary of all of the news from this week to make certain you did not miss any of it.

Royal Caribbean is adding a private beach club that will open in the next two years.

Beach at Royal Beach Club

Set to open in 2026, the club will be located along the western coast of Cozumel, Mexico.

Beach clubs are a new development for Royal Caribbean. The first enclave of this kind was announced in 2020, with the introduction of a new club in the Bahamas.

An admission cost will be associated with entering these areas, which will be private areas reserved for Royal Caribbean guests.

Royal Caribbean News

New RCB Video: Top 18 Royal Caribbean cruise hacks

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 — Top 18 Royal Caribbean cruise hacks — and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.

What to do at CocoCay? 18 things to try on your visit

Hideaway Beach at Perfect Day at CocoCay

Royal Caribbean's private island features a stunning array of activities and amenities. 

If you know where to find them, Perfect Day at CocoCay has plenty of activities to try. Not only that, but the majority of them are included in your cruise fare!

If you're planning a visit to CocoCay, or wondering is a stop there is worth it, we've collected 18 things you can try at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Royal Caribbean Spa Package Prices (2024)

Are you curious about the price of a treatment at Vitality Spa and Salon?

Vitality is Royal Caribbean's designated spa and salon area, where you can receive a variety of health and beauty treatments.

The venue offers treatments ranging from face and body care to natural massages to haircuts and manicures.

Whether you're choosing which service to book or just looking at the prices, we have compiled all the latest costs of the Vitality spa packages.

I ate brunch at 3 Royal Caribbean restaurants, and the one you've heard of the least was the best

Solarium Bistro

Matt went ahead and tested the best brunch spots on Wonder of the Seas.

Three venues currently offer brunch on the large Oasis-class ship: Mason Jar, the Main Dining Room, and the Solarium Bistro.

Which spot was the best? Surprisingly, it was the less-frequented Solarium Bistro. This complimentary brunch location served up a large, buffet-style selection.

How to de-stress on a Royal Caribbean cruise (without alcohol)

Whether it's because of stress from traveling, troubles at home, or just general anxiety, sometimes we struggle to truly relax on our cruise vacations.

The fast-paced world around us makes it difficult to settle down and truly enjoy the peaceful environment on a cruise ship.

Whether you're keeping first-timer nerves at bay, or trying to enjoy a long overdue vacation, Calista has developed some tips for better relaxation.

Avoid relying on alcohol and give yourself permission to relax by following these 9 tips to de-stress on your Royal Caribbean cruise.

Royal Caribbean cancels Australia cruise last minute due to propulsion problem

23 Mar 2024
Allie Hubers

The current South Pacific sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas is getting cut short due to an unexpected technical issue with the ship’s propulsion. The cruise line has also announced the ship’s following itinerary, scheduled for March 30, 2024, has been cancelled.

According to online reports from passengers aboard Brilliance of the Seas, the ship has encountered technical issues while sailing from Australia to the Eastern Melanesia Islands. This forced Royal Caribbean to cut the sailing short. Due to the anticipated repair times, the subsequent itinerary is also cancelled.

Brilliance of the Seas departed from Sydney, Australia on March 19, 2024 and was set to sail for 11 nights. The original itinerary was meant to be a South Pacific sailing with five ports of call throughout New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

The ship did arrive for her scheduled stop in Lifou Isle, New Caledonia on March 22, 2024. Reportedly, Brilliance of the Seas arrived 90 minutes late due to the technical issue, requiring the ship to sail at a much slower speed than normal.

beach in Mystery Island Vanuatu

Crew members allegedly attempted to fix the issue while Brilliance of the Seas was docked in Lifou Isle, but to no avail. Now, the sailing will not be visiting Noumea in New Caledonia or its scheduled stops in Vanuatu, which included the ports of Mystery Island, Port Vila and Luganville.

Brilliance of the Seas was originally scheduled to arrive back in Sydney, Australia on March 30, 2024. Now, the 11-night sailing on Brilliance of the Seas has been cut short to 7 nights with only one port stop. The ship is now scheduled to arrive in Sydney on the evening of March 26, 2024 at 8pm.

In addition, Royal Caribbean has cancelled the March 30, 2024 sailing on Brilliance of the Seas due to the unplanned maintenance, which was a 5-night itinerary to Tasmania. Guests were notified of the cancelled cruise today, March 23, in an email sent from Royal Caribbean.

Compensation Details

Sydney opera house

In a letter to guests onboard the current sailing, Royal Caribbean detailed the maintenance issue. Also, the cruise line provided information regarding compensation that guests will be provided due to the unfortunate fate of their sailing.

“As the captain previously shared, Brilliance of the Seas is experiencing a technical issue resulting in the ship being required to sail at a much slower speed. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to make our scheduled calls for the remainder of our sailing. Please note, our ship remains seaworthy and safe as we have redundancies in place to keep us sailing,” stated the letter.

All guests will receive the following compensation due to the shortened itinerary:

  • 50% refund of paid cruise fare, to be paid as onboard credit
  • Future Cruise Credit worth 50% of original cruise fare paid
  • Refund of all pre-paid shore excursions for Noumea, Mystery Island, Port Vila and Luganville, to be paid as onboard credit
  • Opened up bars with 50% off all drinks, along with a 50% refund to those who pre-purchased drink packages
  • Complimentary internet and phone access. Prorated refund for pre-paid internet packages
  • Reimbursement for travel fees up to $250 USD for domestic travel and $400 USD for international travel
  • Hotel reimbursement of $250 USD per stateroom, per night, for up to 3 nights

Cancelled Sailing

In the communication sent to guests on the March 30 itinerary, Royal Caribbean stated, “As you know, Brilliance of the Seas experienced a technical issue on its last sailing, and we’re returning early to begin required maintenance. Our crew has started working on restoring the system and we’re deploying the best experts.”

Further, Royal Caribbean states that despite the cruise line’s best efforts, the needed repairs to fix the technical issue will not be done in time for the next sailing on Brilliance of the Seas. Because of these repairs, Royal Caribbean has to cancel the March 30, 2024 sailing.

Brilliance of the Seas was scheduled to sail from Sydney, Australia on a 5-night itinerary to Hobart, Tasmania. The impacted passengers are receiving a 100% refund for the sailing. In addition, Royal Caribbean is issuing a 50% Future Cruise Credit for impact guests to be used within one year on a future sailing.

Attempted repair

Guests currently sailing on Brilliance of the Seas have been sharing the ill-fated itinerary on social media, including posts on Facebook, Reddit and TikTok.

As mentioned above, one guest onboard Brilliance of the Seas reported that the ship arrived 90 minutes late to its first port of call in Lifou Isle, New Caledonia. Supposedly, guests were told the late arrival was due to headwinds.

Following the port stop, crew members apparently attempted to repair the propulsion issue while the ship docked in Santa Bay, New Caledonia. Passengers onboard stated that Brilliance of the Seas began sailing away from the Melanesia Islands, which was unusual. At the time, no announcement had been made regarding itinerary changes.

beach on Lifou Loyalty Island

Rumors onboard supposedly began circling among passengers about the ship having a potential engine problem with the propulsion system. Others mentioned that the ship allegedly experienced damage to its azipods. Azipods can rotate 360-degrees and are used to propel cruise ships, allowing the vessel to safely maneuver.

While attempting to repair the propulsion issue, guests reported an announcement was made that their next port of call, Noumea, was canceled. It was unclear at the time if there would be further impacts to Brilliance’s itinerary, although guests onboard noticed the onboard app was showing unplanned sea days for the remainder of the itinerary.

Further, guests reported that Brilliance of the Seas started to sail to Sydney, Australia and away from the remaining ports of call on the ship’s scheduled itinerary. CruiseMapper was also showing Sydney, Australia as the next port of call for Brilliance of the Seas. At the time, no announcement had been made by the ship’s captain regarding the situation.

Brilliance of the Seas pool deck

As the ship began sailing away from the South Pacific islands, guests reported that the captain made a much-needed announcement confirming the new shortened itinerary. In the announcement, the captain supposedly stated that guests would receive letters in their staterooms regarding the matter. In the letter, compensation would be discussed and guests would be provided with more details about the unplanned change.

“Running on one propeller”

chairs on back of Oasis Class ship

According to online reports, guests feel understandably disappointed and upset regarding the situation; in particular, passengers said there was little communication shared until hours after the ship began sailing back towards Sydney, Australia.

One user on Reddit - who is apparently onboard Brilliance of the Seas now - shared, “If you look out the back, we are definitely running on one propeller.”

Another report from a guest online said the Captain explained how the propulsion issue is limiting Brilliance of the Sea’s ability to turn correctly. “So we can go forwards and backwards, but we will need a tug or some manual intervention to turn,” shared the user.

Radiance of the Seas azipod

Brilliance of the Seas is now sailing back to Sydney at reduced speed and will take three sea days to arrive back in Australia.

Not many details are available regarding the specific issue with Brilliance’s propulsion system. At this time, all we know the ship’s propulsion is damaged in some way. Brilliance of the Seas has two azipods, which are used to help rotate the ship while maneuvering. The use of azipods has been standard for Royal Caribbean within the last decade.

Scheduled itineraries

Auckland, New Zealand

Brilliance of the Seas has spent the last few months sailing from Sydney, Australia with itineraries to the South Pacific, Tasmania, Fiji and New Zealand.

Currently, Brilliance of the Seas is scheduled to cruise on an 8-night itinerary to the South Pacific islands on April 4, 2024. This is the last round-trip itinerary from Sydney, Australia before Brilliance of the Seas begins her repositioning journey back to North America.

On April 12, 2024, Brilliance of the Seas is scheduled to begin her transpacific sailing from Sydney, Australia to Hawaii with stops in Tahiti and New Zealand. Throughout the summer and into early fall, Brilliance of the Seas is scheduled to sail itineraries around Alaska.

Currently, the only impacted sailing for Brilliance of the Seas is the cancelled itinerary on March 30, 2024. It’s unclear at this time if more cruises will be cancelled due to the propulsion issue.

Prior propulsion issues

Radiance in dry dock

Brilliance of the Seas is not the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet to have propulsion issues impact sailings. In fact, sister-ship Radiance of the Seas had ongoing propulsion issues back in September 2023. Both of these ships are Radiance class ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet. Both ships were built back in the early 2000s, making them more than 20-years-old today.

Back in September 2023, Radiance of the Seas had two Alaskan itineraries cancelled due to unplanned technical issues with the ship’s propulsion. Guests had already boarded the ship for their scheduled itinerary on September 1, 2023 only to find out the sailing would be cancelled due to repairs needed with the propulsion system.

Radiance of the Seas

Before Royal Caribbean cancelled sailings on Radiance of the Seas, guests on the prior itinerary had stated hearing strange noises overnight while the ship was sailing to Seward, Alaska. 

While Royal Caribbean intended to conduct the subsequent sailing on September 8, 2023, that sailing was also cancelled due to the maintenance problem. The cruise line stated at the time that repairs for the ship were taking longer than anticipated.

Royal Caribbean announces it will build a new beach club for cruise ship passengers in Mexico

22 Mar 2024
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean will open a beach club in Mexico, exclusively for the use of its cruise ship passengers.

Cozumel beach club

Royal Beach Club Cozumel in Mexico is the name of the line's next new enclave.

Beach clubs are a new idea for Royal Caribbean, which are private areas reserved for the use of Royal Caribbean ships visiting that day. An admission cost is also associated with the clubs.

The announcement was made on Friday and the new club will open sometime in 2026.

Cozumel beach club render

It will be located "along the western coast of the island."

“We are delighted to build on our longstanding partnership with the local community and government to continue bringing our guests to Mexico,” said Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group. “The expansion of our destination offerings aligns with the growing global demand for the ultimate vacation experiences and enables our guests to connect with the beauty of local cultures and people in the places they visit.”

“The anticipation for what’s next when it comes to Royal Caribbean destinations has only continued to build since we revealed Royal Beach Club Paradise Island in The Bahamas that opens in 2025. Now is the perfect time to announce the next iteration of this collection with Royal Beach Club Cozumel,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Cozumel is an incredible destination, and the beach club will perfectly complement all the island has to offer as an experience that combines familiar Royal Caribbean touches with the spirit of Mexico, alongside amenities and activities for every type of vacationer.”

What the club offers

Beach at Royal Beach Club

The exact details aren't known, but Royal Caribbean said the Royal Beach Club Cozumel will offer beach and pool access, along with scenic views.

We know of these features:

  • swim-up bars
  • Pools for families and all guests to enjoy
  • Cabanas to rent
  • Snorkeling
  • Kayaking
  • Restaurants, bars, and lounges with Mexican flare
  • Street market offering hands-on experiences like tequila tastings and cooking classes.

Hints at the club

Terminal in Galveston, Texas

In retrospect, today's news was alluded to by Royal Caribbean's executives recently.

During the inaugural sailing of Icon of the Seas in February 2024, Mr. Bayley answered a question about the future of cruises from Galveston, Texas from a travel agent during a Q&A session.

Galveston has become one of Royal Caribbean's fastest growing markets recently, with the line opening a brand new cruise terminal there in 2022.

"It wasn't by accident we put Allure of the Seas into Texas, and now we've got Harmony of the seas. And if you just think forward a few more years, I wonder what we're going to do next."

"I'm not giving away our strategy here because it's pretty. It's pretty simple if you can just use your imagination, you know, big things are coming, baby."

First beach club opening in The Bahamas


In 2020, Royal Caribbean announced a new venture in Nassau that would allow passengers the ability to visit an exclusive destination outfitted with four beaches, private cabanas, a spacious swimming pool, and a watersports center.

Dubbed "Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island," this addition to Royal Caribbean's private offerings, specifically in a busy port like Nassau, aims to provide passengers with unparalleled beach experiences away from the majority of the crowds.

Since Royal Caribbean is designing the beach club as a public-private partnership, Bahamians are able to hold up to 49% equity in the venture.

Undeveloped site of the Royal Beach Club

While not a private island like Perfect Day at CocoCay, the 17-acre Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island is exclusively for guests sailing onboard Royal Caribbean ships. Although situated on Paradise Island, which is home to resorts like Baha Mar, Sandals Royal Bahamian, and Atlantic, the Royal Beach Club will be located in a more secluded area.

Additionally, it's not included in the cost of your cruise fare, so you'll have to pay extra for admission. Included in the cost of a day pass to the Royal Beach Club are complimentary beach chairs, food, and use of the swimming pool and kids' splash pad.

Apart from two food halls, there will be three Snack Shack locations offering convenient grab-and-go items like chicken sandwiches, french fries, and, of course, the ever-popular mozzarella sticks. Aside from dining, guests who pay for admission to the Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island will have access to numerous bars, as they're scattered throughout the beach club.


To reach the beach club, passengers will have to taxi a complimentary water shuttle from Bay Street located near the Straw Market. Once onboard, guests will have two drop-off options: near Sapphire Beach and the west end of the pool.

At the time of writing, the Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island is scheduled to welcome its first guests in 2025.

St. Thomas beach club next?

Earlier this week, the Hotel Director on Wonder of the Seas was speaking to guests during an event onboard and mentioned a beach club was coming to Mexico. He also said there were other plans for other islands.

At the Top Tier event, the Hotel Director talked about plans the company has to build more beach clubs, although at the time of his talk, nothing had been officially announced by the company.

"We're developing the Royal Beach Clubs as well. The first one of those is going to be in Nassau in the Bahamas," he said to the crowd.

"I believe that's going to be the first in a series of Royal Beach clubs. We're looking at St Thomas, we're looking at Mexico."

As it turns out, his announcement has been half right so far, with the Cozumel Beach Club announcement confirmed.

How to Track a Cruise Ship Location on the Internet

22 Mar 2024
Calista Kiper

Did you know it’s possible to track a cruise ship’s live location?

Tracking cruise ships on internet

Thanks to modern technology, you can instantly find out where any cruise ship is in the world. 

You may not have realized that tracking a cruise ship is possible, but I'm certain you've felt the urge to try.

Maybe you felt curious about a friend’s voyage or concerned about a loved one’s safety. You found yourself wishing that you could know exactly where in the world they are.

Or perhaps you’ve already disembarked from a favorite vessel, and are checking up on its current location.

Whatever the reason for your curiosity, checking a ship’s location is a straightforward process.

This guide will explore various methods and technologies available for tracking the movements of cruise ships all over the world.

Read on for your comprehensive guide to tracking a cruise ship’s live location.

How does it work? 


Vessel tracking mainly depends on a technology called the Automatic Identification System (AIS).

Ships larger than 300 tons are required to carry and use AIS.

AIS is essentially a vessel tracking system used by ships to broadcast their position, speed, and course. 

The system uses a vessel’s GPS system or internal systems to gather the ship’s movements. Then, the information from the AIS unit is transmitted in the background.

Programmable information includes the vessel’s name, destination, and Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number.

Tracking ships

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires ships to use AIS so that other ships and coastal authorities can receive relevant information about their position. This enhances maritime safety and navigation.

Most modern vessels use a combination of land-based AIS data, satellite AIS relays, and land-based, very-high frequency radios (VHF) line-of-sight equipment. 

These systems allow online trackers to receive the information that lets you track a cruise ship online.

However, you may not receive all of this data online for free. 

Ship tendering

Satellite AIS receivers are very expensive, meaning you will probably have to pay to access this information.

That means that most ship trackers available for free will only be completely accurate when the ship is close enough to shore for a land-based receiver to pick up the transmissions.

However, even free options can give you an idea of where your favorite cruise ship might be.

Online tracking websites

Ships docked at CocoCay

Several websites offer live tracking of cruise ships online. These websites make it convenient for anyone with internet access to monitor the movements of vessels around the world.

Users can view information on vessel locations by cruise line, type of cruise, or simply by looking at a world map.

Or, you can search for a particular ship by entering the name, International Maritime Organization (IMO) number, or Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number of the ship to view its current position on a map.

Cruise Mapper

Cruise Mapper takes you straight to a world map, where you can choose from a list of vessels, or search for the exact ship on the top middle.

Arrow icons display ships currently sailing, while dots represent ships that are docked at port.

To the left of the screen, you can select from several options of cruise lines, choosing which ones you want to view or hide.

When you find a ship you’d like to track, you can view more information by clicking on the ship’s icon.

A window on the left will display details about the cruise, such as weather, passengers, current speed, and itinerary.

Marine Vessel Traffic

Marine Vessel Traffic is a website that displays tracking information for all types of ships, from cargo to fishing to submarines.

You can view cruise ships specifically by selecting “passenger” on the top menu labeled “Map selector.”

Below the Map selector, options for cruise lines appear. Clicking on a particular line’s logo pulls up the tracking information for that specific fleet.

The world map will reveal all the cruise ships currently sailing. As you drag your mouse over each ship icon, the name of the ship and its cruise line will appear.

Ship Cruises

Ship Cruises also displays an interactive menu with options to filter by cruise line. You can also filter by the type of cruise, making it easy for you to track river cruises or ocean sailings. Docked ships are marked by a small green dot, while ships en route have a larger green arrow.

To view information on a particular ship, click its icon and then select “details.” 

This takes you to a separate page where you can view position, itinerary, map, and weather.

My Ship Tracking

My Ship Tracking has a more visual focus, with several map options. You can add or remove filtered layers, such as weather or vessel size and age.

To find a certain ship, type its name into the search bar at the top right.

There is also the option for you to save particular vessels into your own fleet that is displayed on the map. You must create a free account or log in to activate this feature.

Mobile applications

If you’re on the go, or prefer to use a phone, mobile apps also offer convenient ways to track cruise ships.

Most of the popular ship tracking websites mentioned above also have mobile apps available for download on IOS and Android devices.

Similar to the websites, these apps allow users to access live ship routes, positions, and weather.

A simple search on your App Store also provides a variety of ship-tracking apps, such as MarineTraffic, MyShipTracking, Boat Watch, Cruise Mapper, or Cruise Finder.

No tracking with the official app

Many major cruise lines have their own websites and applications that provide information on each ship’s whereabouts.

Royal Caribbean’s app and website do not have any live tracking features for their cruise ships.

However, you can visit the website for general upgrades on travel information here.

If you have a cruise booked, you will also receive any important upgrades by email or on the mobile app.

If you’re attempting to track a friend or family member’s cruise, you can always look up the ship’s itinerary by name and date, and make an estimate based on the time of certain scheduled arrivals.

Related articles

Have more questions about the technology of cruising? Check out these blog posts:

How to de-stress on a Royal Caribbean cruise (without alcohol)

22 Mar 2024
Calista Kiper

So, you’ve finally managed to set up your cruise.

You finalized the logistics, wrangled your travel buddies, and made it all the way to your ship’s port.

And you get on board, ready to enjoy your vacation—but you can’t seem to settle down.

You still feel the stress of preparing, packing, and traveling, to the point where you can’t seem to enjoy your vacation.

No matter what you do, you can’t seem to unwind. 

Whether it’s from anxiety, guilt, troubles at home, or stress caused by travel, sometimes we struggle to truly relax on our vacations.

I used to experience this struggle.

Especially as a new cruiser, I felt like my head was on a swivel, trying to take in all the information and sights around me. 

It was hard to sit down and rest when everything was so new to me.

After six cruises, I’ve finally developed a routine to de-stress on my cruises.

Whether it’s your first time and you’re trying to keep the nerves at bay, or you’re a seasoned cruiser just trying to enjoy an overdue vacation, here are my tips for relaxing on your cruise.

Read more: Extra tips to prepare for a cruise if you have anxiety

1. Stay away from alcohol 

Grabbing an alcoholic drink is an easy and tempting way to de-stress.

As soon as you start sipping on your wine or classic marg, you feel the anxiety leaving your body and being replaced with a warm, happy feeling.

But this can be a mistake in the long run.

Heavy drinking puts the body in a state of stress. 

Your body is trying to balance itself, and as the alcohol wears off, you’ll feel even more anxious than before you started drinking.

Whether or not you drink enough to actually feel hungover, alcohol can increase your feelings of stress in the long run.

Not only that, but drinks can get expensive on a cruise ship! Royal Caribbean’s cocktails range from $14 to $17 each.


If you’re not splurging on a drink package, ordering a drink could increase your stress as soon as you see that price tag.

Especially if you’re on a longer cruise, spare yourself the "hanganxiety" and go easy on the alcohol. 

There are plenty of other (cheaper) ways to relax!

2. Start by unpacking


Clutter in your physical space can cause clutter in your mental space.

Because it’s a new environment where you have limited space and not all of your items from home, being in a cruise ship stateroom can feel stressful.

I like to calm myself down by unpacking my luggage as soon as I get to my stateroom.

Whether the cruise lasts 3 nights or 7 nights, it’s worth it for me. 


I start by dividing my clothes into drawers and hanging up long items in the closet. Then, I unpack my toiletries and lay them out on the bathroom shelves. 

Any other items I’ve brought along—such as books, electronics, or makeup—I leave inside cabin drawers.

This is a great way to organize all your items, make sure you have everything you need, and reduce clutter.

It always helps you start to clear your mind and feel more comfortable in this new environment.

3. Go offline

Sitting in Central Park with laptop

Yes, WiFi may be available on your cruise ship.

But I recommend giving your mind a break by staying offline, or even opting out of the Internet package entirely.

We’re all familiar with the negative effects social media has on the brain, from jealous comparisons to addictive scrolling.

Usually, the problem is getting yourself to reduce your time online.

But a cruise is the perfect time to start that social media break you’ve been putting off!

It’s a vacation, so this is your time to rest from work. Stop checking your email! 

Getting news when you’re on a cruise ship, unable to take action, will only increase your stress.

Leave your phone in the room, and go out and explore the ship.


A cruise ship has many activities that you can enjoy without thinking of the Internet. 

In addition to live music and shows, movies usually play at night, so you can enjoy the ship’s amenities without ever using your own media.

And, you’ll be more secure and private by sharing photos after the trip is over.

4. Take advantage of the ship’s spa

Royal Caribbean ships are home to Vitality Spa and Salon, an elegant venue dedicated to health and beauty services.

There, you can find luxurious treatments such as seaweed massages, salt scrubs, and aroma stone therapy.

The salon also has beauty services for every part of the body, from hair to nails to teeth.

It’s the perfect spot to start to truly unwind, putting your self-care first.

Relaxation starts with calming down your body, after all.

If you find yourself hesitant to spend on the spa’s massage or salon packages, there are still options for discounts.

Members of the Crown and Anchor Society receive a discount on spa services, starting at 10% off for Gold status, and extending to 20% plus a complimentary add-on for Pinnacle members.

Another savvy way to get a lower price is by waiting until the last day of the cruise or slower port days.

If spa staff see that the ship is not booking enough spa appointments, they may offer more discounts onboard.

Spa facial

And if you want something completely free, keep an eye out on your Cruise compass.

Complimentary tasters, consultations, and lessons are offered daily.

For example, I attended a free facial sampler on my last cruise. The staff let us each try their facial products and gave us tips on how to treat our faces and prevent aging.

5. Prioritize rest

Inside cabin bed

One thing I love about cruising is the freedom to nap whenever and wherever you like.

It’s a vacation! The only rule is that it’s time to relax.

I usually like to take a nap between lunch and dinner, so I wake up refreshed for an evening of activities.

solarium on odyssey of the seas

But there are no limitations to when you can rest. On the pool deck, in your stateroom, in the hot tub—they’re all on the table.

I’m a true advocate of allowing yourself to catch up on sleep and just lie down when you feel like it.

Read more: Chill spots to get away from the crowd on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

6. View nature on the open deck

Time in nature is another proven way to relax the body and mind.

On a cruise ship, you’ll have an endless amount of opportunities to see gorgeous landscapes and seascapes.

During the day, you can watch the open sea surrounding you and watch the movement of the waves.

When it’s sunny, sit down and relax, letting your body soak up some vitamin D. 

Read more: Why Cruises are Great for People with Anxiety

Ocean waves from balcony

Relaxing in the sun is an amazing way to boost your mood.

And at night, be sure to look up at the sky. The clearest view of the stars is often available when you’re out on a ship, away from the lights of land.

Star-gazing on a cruise ship is an incredible experience that reminds us just how small we are. 

7. Savor your meals

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to relax on a cruise is by enjoying each meal I try.

Once I get onboard and taste that first bite of Windjammer chicken, it’s an immediate sign to my body that I can relax—I’ve made it onto the cruise!

Dining is one of the most enjoyable experiences on a Royal Caribbean cruise. So many venues come free of charge, included in your cruise fare.

You can eat knowing that you don’t have to cook or clean it up yourself. 

There’s no rush to eat quickly, no limited lunch break or restricted schedule.

Enjoy each bite slowly, and savor all the different flavors.

This is also the perfect time to try a new kind of food, whether you want to taste specialty dining or explore everything the buffet has to offer.

Eat a lot. You’ve earned it!

8. Exercise for the fun of it

We all know that exercise is better for us. Working out strengthens your body and improves your mood. Exercise is also a great way to increase your confidence in your willpower and body!

It’s easy to put off when you’re busy at home, but your cruise is a great time to stop convincing yourself you have more important things to do.

If you’ve been procrastinating on exercise because you don’t have a gym membership or you can’t find the time, your cruise eliminates both of those excuses.

Royal Caribbean ships have a spectacular gym area, with upgraded machines and often a beautiful view of the ocean. They are free to access, and a true joy to use.

Also, a cruise gym will probably be one of the most judgment-free gyms you’ve ever visited. People of all ages go there for a simple workout on their cruise vacation. 

No one is expecting you to be a skilled bodybuilder.

If you’re really having trouble getting started, there are even exercise classes and Personal Trainers onboard to assist you.

9. Make new friends

Friends in a pub

Cruisers are some of the most welcoming travelers I’ve met.

Whether you’re in elevators, chilling in the hot tub, or enjoying a Main Dining Room dinner, you’ll likely find someone willing to strike up a conversation.

I love how open and fun-loving cruisers are. And during your time onboard, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make friends and see them again!

New friends can help ease your anxiety and make your cruise an even more exciting experience.

Crew members are also extremely welcoming and friendly, always able to help.

If all else fails, and you’re still feeling panicked and stressed, I recommend sitting down at a quiet bar. Order a mocktail or a juice, and start chatting with the bartender. 

Icon of the Seas cabins to avoid

21 Mar 2024
Angie Vognild

If you’re planning to sail on Icon of the Seas, you might be wondering if there are certain cabins to avoid booking. After all, you’re spending hard-earned time and money to take a cruise vacation!

Icon of the Seas cabins to avoid

Icon of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s biggest ship, and the biggest in the world. Measuring 250,800 gross tons, Icon of the Seas can hold up to 7,600 guests at maximum capacity. The ship is nearly 1,200 feet long and towers 20 decks above the sea. This massive cruise ship is so big that Royal Caribbean split it into eight distinct neighborhoods for guests to explore, relax, dine, and more.

Icon of the Seas at CocoCay

There are 2,805 staterooms onboard Icon of the Seas for guests to book, meaning you have many options for securing your cabin. This ship has 28 different types of cabins, including infinite balconies, which are new to Royal Caribbean International. 

Icon of the Seas Central Park Infinite Cabin

Icon of the Seas has:

  • 179 suites divided among 13 suite categories (eight are new to the cruise line)
  • 1,815 balcony cabins divided among eight categories (four are new to the cruise line)
  • 276 oceanview cabins divided into two categories
  • 535 interior cabins divided among five categories (two are new to the cruise line)

While Icon of the Seas has the most modern cabins in all of Royal Caribbean’s fleet, there are definitely cabins onboard you’ll want to avoid booking. Not every cabin is the same, even within the same category!

Some of these cabins are in poor locations on the ship, making them prone to noise, while others are simply not worth your money. A little research can go a long way when it comes to booking your cabin on this new ship.

Here are the cabins we recommend you avoid booking on Icon of the Seas. 

1. Below Chill Island

Icon of the Seas Royal Bay Pool

Icon of the Seas has seven pools, nine whirlpools, and six waterslides spread out between multiple decks. Many of these pools, as well as tons of lounge chairs, are found on decks 15-17 in a neighborhood called Chill Island

Although having a cabin close to Chill Island might seem like a good idea, being directly below the pool deck can be noisy.

Icon of the Seas Chill Island

You will hear the crew members shuffling chairs around the pool deck very early in the morning. In addition, the crew stack the pool deck chairs at the end of each day. Therefore, this area can be very noisy in the early morning and late at night. The cabins directly under the pool deck can be found on deck 14.

Cabins to avoid:

  • 14164 - 14286
  • 14564 - 14686

2. Below The Hideaway and Windjammer

The Hideaway on Icon of the Seas

Since there is no adults-only Solarium onboard Icon of the Seas, The Hideaway has been designated as the new adult hangout spot. This neighborhood features plush daybeds, its own aft-facing bar, and an infinity pool overlooking the ship’s wake.

The location of The Hideaway is perfect for adults looking to enjoy their sea day. However, the adults-only pool is quite noisy. In my experience, I found that during sea days, a DJ would play upbeat music throughout most of the day. The Hideaway turned into a big party when the music was blasting!

The Hideaway at sunset

I would avoid booking any cabins at the aft of the ship on deck 14 since these are located below The Hideaway. Additionally, these aft cabins are directly under the Windjammer. While this won’t keep you up late into the evening, you can expect heavy foot traffic and noise coming from the buffet in the early morning.

Cabins to avoid: 

  • 14288 - 14350
  • 14352 - 14362
  • 14688 - 14750
  • 14752 - 14762

Read more: I tried the $350 in-pool daybed rental on Icon of the Seas. It was pricey, but you get a prime spot

3. Near the AquaDome

Icon of the Seas AquaDome

One of the most exciting additions to Icon of the Seas is a new neighborhood called the AquaDome. This versatile space is home to dazzling entertainment and high-diving aqua shows. While the entertainment is fantastic, you will likely find noise from the productions that carry from the venue.

There are forward cabins on decks 12 and 14 that you might want to avoid if you don’t want to hear the thumping bass from the music playing in the AquaDome. Luckily, the shows are only performed a handful of times so you wouldn’t have noise for the entire duration of your cruise. But, you might find music playing here during rehearsals too.

Cabins to avoid: 

  • Deck 12: 12134 - 12162 and 12530 - 12562
  • Deck 14: 14538 - 14562 and 14138 - 14162

4. Surfside balconies

Icon of the Seas surfside neighborhood

One of Royal Caribbean’s newest neighborhoods is Surfside, located on deck seven. This is designed to be the go-to spot for families with small children where kids can play all day and adults can relax with a drink in hand.

Surfside has Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay, which is essentially a small waterpark for children, and adults can swim in the nearby Water’s Edge Pool. This area is undoubtedly noisy during the day while families are having fun (aka squeals and laughter).

There are oceanview balconies on deck seven that face the ocean, although their proximity to Surfside is sure to be noisier than the sound of the sea. These cabins are also above Adventure Ocean and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade - two noisy venues.

Icon of the Seas surfside neighborhood cabins

Surfside features inward-facing balconies that overlook the neighborhood. Unless you have kids, you might want to avoid booking a balcony in Surfside, especially on the lower decks between decks nine, ten, and eleven. You will likely hear noise from the pool area, even if you have an oceanview balcony facing the sea.

Cabins to avoid:

  • Deck 7: 7280 - 7346 and 7680 - 7746
  • Deck 9: 9293 - 9347 and 9693 - 9747 
  • Deck 10: 10293 - 10347 and 10693 - 10747 
  • Deck 11: 11293 - 11347 and 11693 - 11747

5. Obstructed Central Park balconies

Central Park on Icon of the Seas

Located on deck eight is Central Park on Icon of the Seas. This neighborhood is filled with real greenery with an open-air concept. There are bars and restaurants that line Central Park, including Park Café, Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, Lou’s Jazz N’ Blues, Chops Grille, retail stores, and more.

Balconies in Central Park are generally good choices for balconies because this area is busy without being too noisy. However, if there is a parade in the Royal Promenade or a pool party on the top deck, this area can get noisy.

During the inaugural sailing on Icon of the Seas, I actually stayed in cabin 10225 on deck 10. This stateroom was classified as a Spacious Infinite Central Park View Balcony. While I appreciated trying out an infinite balcony, I was disappointed to see how obstructed my cabin was.

Obstructed views in the Spacious Infinite Central Park Balcony Cabin on Icon of the Seas

Because my cabin was located right above The Pearl, my view was partially obstructed. My cabin was not labeled as obstructed online. I would argue that this should be considered an obstructed cabin, so I would encourage potential cruisers to avoid booking these cabins on deck 10.

Cabins to avoid:

  • 10219 - 10235

Read more: I stayed in a 200-square-foot room on the world's largest cruise ship, where there's a new kind of balcony. Here's what it's like inside.

6. Surfside and Central Park interiors

Icon of the Seas interior cabins to avoid

Although Surfside and Central Park are lined with balconies facing inward, you can also book interior cabins that provide a view of the neighborhoods. These cabins are classified as Surfside Family Interiors on deck eight and Central Park Interiors on deck nine.

If you’re going to book an interior cabin, there are probably better locations onboard to consider. These interior view cabins are located in two busy areas onboard Icon of the Seas. While the natural light might be a positive, these cabins will likely be noisy. In addition, most of the cabins have blocked views, such as the ones located directly above Park Café in Central Park and the ones above Surfside Bites in Surfside.

Cabins to avoid:

  • Deck 8: 8321 - 8347 and 8721 - 8747
  • Deck 9: 9181 - 9201, 9241 - 9257, 9287 - 9599, and 9623 - 9657

7. Outside of Music Hall

Icon of the Seas Music Hall

Most guests prefer to avoid cabins on the lowest decks of a cruise ship because many activities and venues are located on the higher decks. Oftentimes, however, cabins on lower decks can be cheaper than ones on higher decks.

Icon of the Seas has some lower-deck areas you’ll definitely want to avoid if you’re a light sleeper. One of these venues is the Music Hall, which spans across decks three and four.

Music Hall is home to various late-night parties with live music playing throughout the evening. There are cabins located directly outside of Music Hall, which is sure to be noisy. If you plan to stay up late, this might not be an issue. However, light sleepers or those who want to head to bed early won’t appreciate the music blasting from here.

Cabins to avoid: 

  • Deck 3: 3180 - 3200
  • Deck 4: 4180 - 4200 and 4577 - 4591

8. Too far forward

Icon of the Seas traditional balcony cabin

If you’re someone who is prone to motion sickness, it’s important to choose a cabin centrally located where you won’t feel the ship moving too much. Although Icon of the Seas has the latest and greatest technology for stabilization, you can still encounter rough waves.

As a rule of thumb, the cabins located at the front of a cruise ship will have the most motion. You’ll be able to feel the ship sway up and down during rough weather if you’re at the front of the ship.

Icon of the Seas interior cabin

Because of this, it’s best to avoid cabins at the very front of the ship. This is not to say that everyone will feel sick in these forward cabins. However, those who are prone to seasickness should prioritize cabins located midship.

Many of the new infinite cabins onboard Icon of the Seas are located midship, so you could consider this type of cabin if you want to feel less motion. And a bonus: these cabins are 25% bigger than regular cabins!

Read more: Photo tour of a balcony cabin on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas. It has more power outlets than I've seen on any ship

9. Near the elevators

Destination elevators on Icon of the Seas

The elevators can often be a source of noise on a cruise ship, especially as people come and go. Cabins that are located near the elevator are generally busy spots with heavy foot traffic as well. Some cruisers have found that booking a cabin too close to the elevators cultivates a noisy environment.

One thing to note is that Icon of the Seas has destination elevators located in a rotunda-style design.

Those who are light sleepers will want to reconsider booking a cabin too close to the elevators on Icon of the Seas. Even if you can book a cabin that is located just a few doors down from the elevators will cut down on the noise you hear while cruising!

I ate brunch at 3 Royal Caribbean restaurants, and the one you've heard of the least was the best

21 Mar 2024
Matt Hochberg

Brunch isn't something Royal Caribbean has offered a lot, but it's great you can find brunch more often now.

Brunch on Royal Caribbean

On Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, there are three restaurants that serve brunch throughout the cruise: the Main Dining Room, Solarium Bistro, and Mason Jar.

Brunch isn't offered every day, but it's available on select mornings of the cruise.

During my recent cruise on Wonder of the Seas, I stopped by all three to sample them all.

Only reservation you need is at Mason Jar

Mason Jar entrance

Both Solarium Bistro and Main Dining Room require no reservations for brunch, but you will need one at the Mason Jar.

Brunch is offered at Solarium Bistro on sea days (and on the day we docked in St. Thomas at 1pm). Brunch was only offered in the Main Dining Room on our late arrival day into St. Thomas, and the Mason Jar offers brunch on embarkation day and sea days (and St. Thomas day).

You can make a pre-cruise reservation for Mason Jar on the Royal Caribbean website. For the other two restaurants, simply walk up and ask for a table.

I was surprised by the menu choices

Brunch food

When I hear the word "brunch", I think of scrambled eggs and bacon served alongside spaghetti and a burger. In short, it's about a lot of choices you can intermix between the two meals.

The Mason Jar's brunch menu has items from both meals, including fried chicken sandwiches, avocado toast, biscuits, and more.

Cinnamon roll

Being a Southern American styled restaurant, there are a lot of regional favorites here: blueberry johnnycakes, spinach 'n pimento cheese omelet, and fried chicken 'n waffles. There's also scrambled eggs, burger, and a chicken sandwich if you want something a bit more familiar.

At the Main Dining Room, their brunch menu leaned more heavily into the breakfast choices. It felt like their brunch menu was the standard breakfast menu, with a few of their lunch menu items added in.

Solarium Bistro

The Solarium Bistro's menu was the largest of the menus, with multiple stations to choose from.  Served buffet style, there is no printed menu, but I found much more choices than I expected.

Solarium Bistro's brunch buffet bonanza


The Solarium Bistro is a complimentary restaurant at the front of the ship that I think many passengers overlook. However, on the day I ate there, it was definitely not uncrowded.

You will find lots of choices spread across multiple buffet stations. There are waffles, burgers, omelets, spaghetti, bacon, and more.

Solarium Bistro

I was impressed by how much choice there was, which is why it felt the most crowded of the buffet spots I visited on Wonder.

The food quality was that of the Windjammer buffet, so it wouldn't be anything significantly different. But I think the sheer variety and the fact it's included in your cruise fare stood out a lot.

Southern comfort food at Mason Jar

Brunch at Mason Jar

The Mason Jar is Royal Caribbean's first specialty restaurant to lean into the brunch trend, and it wont leave you disappointed either.

You'll find a mix of familiar and maybe not-so-familiar choices (if you don't live near an SEC college). I'm all for new choices, and I appreciate it's not just more of the same.

Fried Chicken at Mason Jar

The Sweet-Tooth Cinnamon Roll and the red velvet pancakes caught our eye almost immediately. The cinnamon roll was massive, and probably best suited as something to share with everyone at your table.

In fact, all the dishes were quite large and this is a good restaurant to order one more entree than people in your party and just share everything. 

A basic brunch in the Main Dining Room

Brunch in MDR

The brunch menu in the Main Dining Room is perhaps the least inspired of the three, in the sense it's the standard breakfast menu they have every day, with a few staples of the lunch menu.

There's nothing wrong with any of the choices here, but don't expect to be wowed by anything new or different.

What I love about eating in the Main Dining Room for breakfast or brunch is the relaxed pace, dignified atmosphere, and ocean views (if you're near a window).


Whereas Solarium Bistro is busy with people, the Main Dining Room is more spread out and has you seated with waiter service.

The French toast and omelet your way are probably the top choices, but you could get a steak or burger here too.

Solarium Bistro is worth a try on your next cruise

Solarium Bistro

Among the three restaurants, I enjoyed Solarium Bistro the most.

Not only is it complimentary, but I thought its variety of menu choices really stood out. It felt like I could mix and match the most of the three, and I thought there were some interesting choices too.

Mason Jar

The Mason Jar is a strong contender too, as you'll find classic and reimaged southern-inspired breakfast dishes. I think being able to go to any specialty restaurant and get something you can't find elsewhere on the ship is a big selling point of spending extra.

However, there is a lot of bleed over between the Mason Jar's brunch and dinner menus. Plus, I think the bar scene is better than the restaurant experience, but that's a different debate.

Bagel and lox

Compared to Solarium Bistro and Mason Jar, the Main Dining Room's brunch offering was uninspiring. It wasn't bad food by any means, just nothing you're going to walk away from and think that meal really stood out.

Overall, I would recommend the Solarium Bistro for brunch as an easy choice that the entire family will find something they can enjoy. If you have a dining package, make a point to try Mason Jar on another morning.

What to do at CocoCay? 18 things to try on your visit

20 Mar 2024
Calista Kiper

Are you stuck planning your visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay?

Cococay beach

Or are you wondering if a stop to Royal Caribbean’s private island is even worth it?

Perfect Day at CocoCay, a private island located in the Bahamas, spans 120 acres, the length of 158 football fields. 

From bars to pools to beaches to waterparks, there are adventures you don’t want to miss out on.

In water hammocks at CocoCay

The island is sprawling with activities if you know how and where to find them!

Not only that, but the majority of Cococay’s amenities also come free of charge, included in your cruise fare. 

Whether you’re planning your first visit or needing a refreshing visit to a familiar place, here are 18 things you can try next time your cruise ship stops at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Read more: What is free on Perfect Day at CocoCay?

1. ​​Play beach volleyball 

Hideaway Beach Club render

For the active and athletic types, Perfect Day At CocoCay has a lot to offer.

Head down to South Beach, a broad area with active, family-friendly games. 

From volleyball to basketball to ping-pong, there are a variety of free, fun experiences to be found here. 

You can find specific games scheduled on your Cruise Compass, or simply create a team and start playing!

2. Shop for Bahamian souvenirs

CocoCay straw market

Missed a day at Nassau’s famous Straw Market?

Don’t worry—CocoCay has its own Straw Market. You’ll find several shops near Chill Island and Chill Grill, complete with Bahamian clothing, decorations, and all sorts of souvenirs.

You can even get your hair braided here, with a selection of different styles and beads available.

If you’d like to do some shopping at this location, just don’t forget to bring cash or credit card. Your SeaPass may not be accepted.

3. Experience Thrill Waterpark ($)

You can pre-book admission to Thrill Waterpark, home to 14 slides across 2 towers. Thrill Waterpark also has the tallest waterslide in North America—Daredevil’s Peak.

When you arrive, you can swipe your SeaPass card to enter the park. You will receive a wristband that allows you to come and go into the park as you please.

A day pass includes beach chairs and unlimited use of all the exciting experiences: fourteen slides, an obstacle course, and a wave pool.

Depending on the cruise and the season, prices range from $50-$120 per person.

All guests under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a guest over the age of 14.

4. Go snorkeling 


Chill Island is located on the left side of CocoCay, near where the ships dock. These quiet, white-sand beaches are the perfect place to start snorkeling.

If you bring your own gear, you can explore for free.

If not, you can also rent snorkeling equipment when you arrive. 

All-day equipment rental ranges from $30-40 per adult, or $20-30 per child.

Keep an eye out for the tropical fish, jellyfish, and stingrays, as well as the sunken plane wreck off the shore.

5. Take a tram ride 


If your legs get tired, or you’d simply like a view of the entire island, Royal Caribbean has a free, open-air tram.

Traveling to each stop every 15 minutes, the tram stops at 6 locations: the Arrivals Plaza, Chill Island, Oasis Lagoon, South Beach, Coco Beach Club, and directly up to the ship.

Use the tram to get to your next destination, or just hop on for fun! Either way, it’s completely free.

6. Play at Splashaway Bay

Captain Jill's Galleon

With two drenching buckets, spraying fountains, and five free waterslides, Splashaway Bay has fun for all ages.

This complimentary water park can be found on Perfect Day at CocoCay as soon as you enter the island, on the Arrivals Plaza and across from Skipper’s Grill.

Anyone from small kids to their parents can run around this splashing play zone.

7. Scramble onto Captain Jill’s Galleon

Captain Jill's Galleon

Captain Jill’s Galleon is a shipwrecked pirate ship that kids of all ages can play on for free. This life-size galleon has a tunnel slide, a scramble net, and water cannons. 

While anyone is welcome to play, this location is best for smaller children.

8. Upgrade at Coco Beach Club ($)

For a more exclusive experience, you can enjoy a sandy beach, Clubhouse, freshwater infinity pool, and upscale restaurant at the private Coco Beach Club.

The included restaurant features Mediterranean cuisine and favorites such as filet mignon, fresh grouper, and lobster.

Beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas are also included in the day pass, which ranges from $150-250 per adult.

9. Rent a floating cabana ($)

Floating cabana

Coco Beach Club’s floating cabanas come with room for 8 guests. 

Amenities include a hammock over the water, a small slide into the ocean, a sofa for anyone wanting to nap, a minibar, towels, power outlets, a ceiling fan, a dining area, and a dedicated Cabana Butler to attend to your every need.

You can even have food from the upgraded restaurant, or drinks (at an extra cost) delivered from the bar. 

This package includes access to the Coco Beach Club and the use of the cabana, starting at $2,500. 

10. Float in the Oasis Lagoon

Located in the middle of the island, Oasis Lagoon set the record as the largest freshwater pool in the Bahamas. 

This pool is 33,175 square feet, with room for everyone, and it is free to access. 

Many beach chairs are scattered around the area, making this a great spot to leave your stuff for free.

You can float in the cool pool without a care, or even swim around the area.

11. Exercise at a fitness class

Hideaway Beach at Perfect Day at CocoCay

Do you want to have a more active day? There are free fitness classes available at CocoCay, such as Zumba and yoga.

For the exact times and locations, check your cruise compass or the mobile app.

12. Enjoy a free lunch 

Skipper Grill at CocoCay

Head to Chill Grill or Skipper’s Grill for a filling, complimentary lunch. 

These locations have salads, sandwiches, tacos, burgers, for free!

When you’re ready for dessert, try their funnel cake, chocolate chip cookies, or fruit for a healthier option.

13. Float on a beach mat ($)

Hideaway Beach palapas

While you’re enjoying the many gorgeous beaches available, you can also try a floating beach mat.

Adults can use it to unwind, relaxing and floating along ocean water. 

Or, balance your kids on the plush foam material for some added safety and peace of mind.

All-day access is $15-20 per beach mat.

14. Rise in a hot air balloon ($)

Helium balloon on CocoCay

If the weather and wind permit, you can ride a hot air balloon to get a bird’s eye view of the island and surrounding beaches.

When you arrive on the island, you can buy your ticket for this 10-minute ride. 

The "Up, Up, and Away" hot air balloon carries up to 30 passengers at a time, slowly rising 450 feet to give you the highest vantage point in the Bahamas.

A spacious platform gives you 360-degree views in the breezy air.

Adults can expect to pay $60-90, while children under age 13 will pay $30-60 for their ticket.

15. Dance at the swim-up bar

People in Oasis Lagoon

Oasis Lagoon holds one of the best party locations on Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

In the middle of the pool is a popular swim-up bar. A live DJ plays pop and afrobeats mixes, encouraging the crowd to dance and have fun.

Just make sure to arrive early, because the bar gets full fast!

16. Go ziplining ($)

You can soar high above the harbor on Perfect Day at CocoCay’s 1600-foot-long zipline.

Three segments take you across the island, past Thrill Waterpark and the beaches, and land at the harbor. The entire experience lasts around 45 minutes.

Guests must wear closed-toe shoes and weigh between 75 and 275 pounds to participate.

The cost ranges from $80-130 per person.

17. Escape the kids at Hideaway Beach ($)

Hideaway Beach

Cococay’s adults-only private area launched this year, and you can book your day pass now.

Featuring a swim-up bar, tasty food, complimentary hammocks, and live music, Hideaway Beach is a paradise escape.

Tickets sell out fast! Prices are currently listed at $20-85 per person.

18. Nap or read on the beach

Regular beach access is still completely free on Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

At Chill Island, Harbor Beach, and South Beach, you can lounge on the beach chairs, many with umbrellas, free of charge.

I personally love to read a good book, or you can take a nap in the sun. 

If you’ve purchased Royal Caribbean’s WiFi package, you’ll also have access to it here, if you feel like surfing the Internet, reading the news, or even watching a TV show.  Also, if you have the Deluxe Drink Package, it works on Perfect Day at CocoCay just like on the ship.