First look at Portside BBQ menu and prices on Oasis of the Seas

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has added Portside BBQ, a new barbecue specialty restaurant, on Oasis of the Seas, and we have a first look at the menu.

Portside BBQ will be the cruise line’s first barbecue concept, and will be priced a la carte. Choose from a meat-packed menu of tender brisket, pulled pork, chicken, beef ribs, burnt ends and even turkey legs. In addition, there's sides like homestyle cornbread and irresistible mac & cheese.


There are three menus: lunch, dinner and late-night.

One interesting note about the menu, is the food offered is cooked in limited quantities, so there could be some items that sell out on a given day.

Portside BBQ is on Oasis of the Seas as of November 2019, and will be added to Allure of the Seas in May 2020.

20 things you should know before a Royal Caribbean cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

If you have your first Royal Caribbean cruise coming up soon, I wanted to share some helpful things you should be aware of before you get onboard.

1. Have the proper travel documents

The exact travel documentation required depends on what citizenship you hold, as well as where your cruise is sailing from and to.  It is critical to understand the proper documentation needed for a cruise, as no refunds are provided for guests who fail to bring proper documentation.  

The simplest approach for having the proper documentation for a cruise is to invest in a passport. A government-issued passport for all friends and family you are sailing with is the ideal scenario for going on a cruise. 

Yes, you can cruise with other documentation, such as a birth certificate, passport card or other documents, but in my opinion, these documents are less reliable than a passport.

2. Decide on a drink package

Royal Caribbean offers guests drink packages to enjoy unlimited beverages while on their cruise.  The decision to get a drink package is totally dependent on your drinking habits, and a drink package has the potential to save money, provided they drink enough every day of the cruise.

What you want to do is decide if a Royal Caribbean drink package is worth it, prior to getting onboard the ship.  The price of a drink package before the cruise will always be cheaper than compared to buying it onboard.

Here is what drinks are included with a cruise:

  • tap water
  • milk
  • tea
  • coffee (regular and decaf)
  • lemonade
  • iced tea
  • flavored waters
  • juices (at breakfast and not fresh squeezed)
  • Hot chocolate (via instant packets)

Any other beverages will cost you extra, including: 

  • soda
  • beer
  • wine
  • liquor
  • cocktails
  • premium coffee and tea, such as Starbucks
  • bottled water (still or sparkling)
  • fresh squeezed juice

These beverages can be purchased individually or included as part of a beverage package. 

3. How you will get to the cruise

You will need to arrange transportation to get you and your family from your home to the cruise ship terminal, and that can involve taxis, buses, airplanes or more. 

Some options will be more economical than others, but here are a couple of tips you should be aware of to help get you there:

  • If you need to get from the airport to the cruise terminal, a Lyft or Uber ride is usually the simplest, and most economical option.
  • If you are flying to your cruise embarkation port, be sure to fly in at least one day early to avoid travel delays impacting your ability to make the cruise.
  • Royal Caribbean does offer transfers between the airport and the cruise terminal, but they come with an additional cost.

4. Print out your luggage tags

Prior to leaving for your cruise, you should print out luggage tags to affix to your checked luggage so that it can be delivered to your stateroom.

After you complete online check-in for the cruise, you will find printable luggage tags. There is a luggage tag that is specific to the guest, ship, sailing date, stateroom and deck number.

Once you print out copies of the luggage tags, you simply fold the tags, loop them around the handle of the bag and staple the ends together.

Some guests opt for luggage tag holders, which can be purchased online and provide additional protection of the tag from being accidently ripped off. I recommend these luggage tag holders (disclosure: I make a small commission for someone that buys tags via this link).

5. Research shore excursions

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

Before you even look at one shore excursion, you should research the most popular activities in each port. 

When looking at shore excursion options, you can book tours through Royal Caribbean or on your own. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, so I advise to consult both.

The key is to determine which tours you want to book, and reserve it in advance. In some cases booking in advance will save you money, and everyone can benefit from having the luxury of time to consider all options.

6. You can bring wine on your cruise

One of the best ways to save money on a cruise is to bring your own wine onboard.

Guests wishing to bring personal wine and champagne onboard may do so only on boarding day, limited to two (2) 750 ml bottles per stateroom. No beer or hard liquor may be brought onboard for consumption.

7. Pre-purchase WiFi access

Royal Caribbean's cruise ship WiFi will allow you to stay connected and surf the web, check email, and post to social media.

If you want to buy an internet package, your best bet is to pre-purchase it via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site to take advantage of some big discounts.

It is not uncommon to find discounts of up to 60% off the onboard prices for a Voom internet package. Regardless of the discount offered, pre-purchasing internet will save you money compared to buying it onboard.

8. The Key

You may notice an optional pre-cruise purchase that provides VIP access to select offerings onboard, known as The Key, and wonder what it is and if it is worth it.

The Key provides priority embarkation and disembarkation, a special boarding day lunch, internet access, access to signature activities and more.

There are some nice to have perks that come with The Key, but you should look at it like upgrading your airplane ticket to first class, or booking a suite.  A great way to splurge, but not necessarily required.

Generally speaking, The Key can make sense to purchase if you....

  • Are not staying in a suite
  • Are below Diamond in Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society
  • Were already planning to purchase internet package for everyone in your group

9. Read the Cruise Compass every day

Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver to your stateroom the Cruise Compass, which is a daily guide to the news, events and activities that will be occurring on your ship the next day.

Royal Caribbean packs a lot of things to do into each day and you are best served by reading it each evening to be aware of what is happening onboard. 

The Cruise Compass is more than just knowing what time bingo is at.  It offers you insight into the next day's weather, which bars will have drink specials, shore excursion information and much more.

Most importantly, there is a chronological listing of events from the early morning to the late evening. Each event has a time, event name, location and possibly brief description listed.  There will also be an indication if this event costs extra.

Some events are not repeated while other activities can change daily, so it is in your best interest to track what is happening so you do not miss any of it.

10. Arrive to your embarkation city at least one day early

If you are flying to the embarkation port your cruise departs from, you should absolutely fly in at least one day in advance to avoid a travel delay causing you to miss your cruise.

Having an extra day or two provides a buffer to account for travel delays.  You really do not want to be that person in the airport losing their mind because the latest delay means the entire vacation is in jeopardy.

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

11. Daily gratuities

Cruise gratuities are a daily fee that is automatically paid to reward the hard work of the crew members that take care of you.

On Royal Caribbean, gratuities apply to all passengers. Royal Caribbean charges $14.50 per person, per day for most guests. This rate applies to interior cabins, ocean view, balcony and junior suites. The cruise lines charges $17.50 per person, per day for guests in grand suites and above.

You can also opt to go to Guest Services to have the gratuities adjusted. Guests have until the morning of their departure to make changes to the gratuities they pay.

12. You can arrive to the cruise terminal earlier than you think

Royal Caribbean may send you an email about boarding times, but those are mostly suggestions and not enforced at all. If you followed our previous advice about arriving to your port city early, then likely your hotel will have a check-out time in the early part of the morning, which is the perfect excuse to head to the cruise port.

If you are wondering what time constitutes, "early", we are talking about sometime between 10am and 11:30am. The earlier you arrive on embarkation day, the earlier you will board the ship. And the price you paid for the cruise is the same whether you get onboard at 11am or 2pm, so may as well get the most time possible.

13. Seasick

If there is one thing many first time cruisers ask a lot of questions about it, it is about getting sea sick.

Let us be clear, going on a Royal Caribbean cruise is nothing like going out on your buddy's fishing boat.  Royal Caribbean ships are massive vessels, equipped with precise GPS and stablizing technology. Moreover, the Captain will regularly plot courses that take optimal routes for guest comfort.

There are certain steps you can take to mitigate the risk of getting sea sick, such as over the counter medications and homeopathic treatments. 

The bottom line is while one could get sea sick on a cruise, it is a very low risk.  In fact, if you ask veteran cruisers, they will likely tell you their concern over getting sea sick is ranked somewhere around the feature film selection shown onboard.

14. Eating onboard

There is so much food available throughout the day and night on a Royal Caribbean cruise that being concerned with there not being enough to eat is one less thing to worry about.

On a Royal Caribbean ship, guests will find a lot of food included in their cruise fare, along with specialty dining options that augment the standard fare.

Complimentary food is available for all meals, and time inbetween. Simply put, there is plenty of great food included in the cost of your Royal Caribbean cruise. One can easily go an entire food and enjoy nothing but food that has no additional cost from morning to night. After all, that is what the concept of a cruise has been for a long time.

In addition to all the food that is included in your cruise fare are specialty dining options, that carry with it an extra cost to enjoy the food there. The exact amount extra will vary from restaurant to restaurant, and ship to ship.

In most cases, the specialty dining options offer a greater variety of food choices than what is available at complimentary dining locations. Royal Caribbean has designed its specialty restaurants around themes or cuisines (Italian, steakhouse, sushi, etc).

15. Travel insurance

Travel insurance is not necessarily a must for everyone, but it is something you should consider. Depending on your risk tolerance, it may be a good investment.

A variety of offerings are available from Royal Caribbean, your travel agent, and a number of companies.

Trip insurance can protect you against a multitude of emergencies, unforeseen events and accidents.  It is one of those things that you are glad you have it, if you need it.  

It is important to not just look at price but consider what is actually covered by the plan.  A common misconception surrounds hurricanes.  Many people think trip insurance will cover them if there is a hurricane in the general vicinity of their cruise and they can cancel with a full refund.  The reality is most plans only cover hurricanes if the cruise is canceled or otherwise directly impacted by the storm.  A guest's desire to cancel because they fear a storm is not usually grounds for the insurance to kick in, so it is important to understand what the plan does and does not cover and what circumstances allow for the insurance to kick in.

Be sure to check if any of your credit cards include complimentary trip insurance as part of the card benefits.

16. Prepare a carry-on bag for the first day

You should plan to have a small carry-on bag with you for the first day of your cruise to bring a few items that will be useful in the couple of hours that you are onboard before your luggage is delivered.

It might be a good idea to pack these items:

  • Medications
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunscreen
  • Travel documents

As a bonus, use this same bag later in the cruise when you go on shore excursions to carry some of these items, as well as beach towels.

17. What to pack

I could write pages and pages on what to pack for a cruise, but the short answer is you will need to pack for time spent at pool, on shore and in the evening for dinner.

Where your cruise sails to will determine what exactly you need to pack, so it may be a good idea to research the weather in the ports you will be visiting, as well as figuring out if there will be any formal nights or themed nights on your sailing (more on formal nights and themed nights later).

This is also a good opportunity to check your luggage is good to go (i.e. no holes or rips).

In addition, you should start thinking about what clothing and outfits you want to bring with you.  This may trigger a memory that you wanted to replace a suit or shirt or get new shoes.

18. Don't be afraid to say something if there is a problem

One very common mistake among first time cruisers is not pointing out and taking care of a problem if something is not to your liking.

The crew wants you to have a fantastic cruise, so if there is something missing, broken, or could be improved, do not hesitate to speak to a crew member about how it can be made better.

The key is to politely point out the issue, and ask how to improve the situation. Do not let the issue fester, or otherwise disrupt your vacation.

19. Know what you cannot bring

You should definitely be aware of the kind of items you are prohibited from bringing on your Royal Caribbean cruise.  Some are pretty obvious (no baseball bats), while others are surprising (no surge protectors or clothing irons).

Refer to Royal Caribbean's list of prohibited item list, as their list changes from time to time.

20. How to stay in contact onboard

Once you are onboard the ship, there are a few ways to remain in contact with everyone in your group.

  • Utilizing Royal Caribbean's in-room phones and phones in common areas is a simple way to communicate with guests onboard your ship and onshore.
  • Royal Caribbean is working on a chat feature with its smart phone app, although it is still in development.  Currently, it is available on two ships: Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
  • Walkie Talkies are an option, but I do not recommend them.  Interference from the ship's electronics and metal structure cause issues with reception. Moreover, they are annoying to other guests.
  • A tried and true method is to leave notes on the stateroom door.  Go to a dollar store and purchase a dry erase board to post on the door and leave notes on the door.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: November 17, 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! Temperatures may be dropping, but there is plenty of Royal Caribbean news to share.  This is your weekly summary of all the Royal Caribbean news from this past week, perfectly fitted for your consumption.

Royal Caribbean revealed their Europe 2021 sailings earlier this week.

Seven ships will sail around Europe in 2021 with 70% new itineraries that feature a new mix of destinations.

The highlight of the seas is the inclusion of Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas in the mix.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 328th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is available to enjoy, where Matt speaks with Michael Poole about what it is like to get married on Royal Caribbean.

Michael elected to get married on Mariner of the Seas recentlty, and this week, he shares the ins and outs of getting marred at sea.

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

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

In The Loop Travel shared a look at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Cruise Habit looked at free and paid wifi options on cruise lines.

Friday Photos - November 15, 2019

By: Matt Hochberg

If you're ready for a mental escape to a Royal Caribbean cruise, then you're at the right place because we have some great Royal Caribbean photos our readers have sent in.  

Each week we ask our readers to send us their best Royal Caribbean photos to showcase right here on the blog so be sure to send yours in too!

Our first photo is from Kristy Gordon, and it is of Symphony of the Seas in Cozumel while at night.

Next up, is a photo of Vision of the Seas in Cabo San Lucas. Photo by Michael Kho.

Susan Widdowson shared her "happy place", which is enjoying breakfast from her balcony on Radiance of the Seas in Icy Straight Point, Alaska.

Matthew Hull sent in this photo of the AquaTheater from Oasis of the Seas.

Check out this shot of Symphony of the Seas and Independence of the Seas while docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo by Jay Spiegel.

Robin Buckley snapped this photo of Navigator of the Seas, while on their way back to the ship in Nassau.

Our final photo this week is by Sam Szpara, and it is a view of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Thanks to everyone who sent in their photos this week.  Be sure to send your photos in as well by using this form.

Empress of the Seas added to Royal Caribbean app

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has expanded its new app to include support for Empress of the Seas.

Empress now appears in the list of supported ships that can be found from within the app.

The new app is being actively developed, which means not all features area available on the app yet.  Moreover, the cruise line is slowly rolling out support for more ships.

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Save up to 30% off pre-cruise purchases with Cruise Planner sale

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering up to 30% off certain Cruise Planner purchases during its Seas the Deals sale.

The new promotion applies to purchases made between November 14 - November 18, 2019, and applies to select sailings departing November 20, 2019 – May 31, 2020. It is valid on all ships, except for Spectrum of the Seas.

BEVERAGE: Up to 30% off on select sailings.

SHORE EXCURSIONS: Up to 25% off on select sailings.

INTERNET: Up to 60% off on select sailings

  • The Key. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes Charter Sailings + Mj, SC)
  • VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC).
  • VOOM Surf & Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s). Discount varies by ship. (Excludes SC)

DINING: Up to 55% off on select sailings.

  •  Unlimited Dining Package on 3N – 9N sailings. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes MJ, SC)

ACTIVITIES: 10% off on select sailings

  • All Access Ship Tour: 10% off onboard prices. (Excludes SC)

GIFTS & GEAR: 20% off on select sailings

  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries: 20% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes QN, SC, VY)
  • Happy Anniversary Decorations: 20% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes QN, SC, VY)
  • Inky Travel Set: 20% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes QN, SC, VY)
  • Strawberries with Champagne: 20% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes QN, SC, VY)
  • White Wine & Cheese: 20% off onboard prices. Discount varies by ship. (Excludes QN, SC, VY)

PHOTO PACKAGES: Up to 20% off on select sailings.

  • Prints – 10: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AD, AL, AN, BR, EN, EX, FR, HM, JW, LB, OA, OY, RD, RH, SC, SR, SY)
  • Prints – 15: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AL, BR, EN, FR, HM, LB, MA, MJ, NE, NV, OA, OY, QN, RH, SC, SR, SY)
  • Prints – 20: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes All Ships + Charter Sailings except AL, BR, EN, EX, FR, GR, ID, JW, MA, MJ, NE, NV, OY, QN, RD, RH, SC, SR,VI, VY)
  • Prints – All: Discount varies by ship. (AD, AN, EX, HM, ID, LB, MA, NV, OV, QN, SC, SY)
  • Digital – 15: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AL, BR, EN, FR, GR, HM, JW, LB,MA, MJ, NV, OA, OV, OY, QN, RD, RH, SC, SR, SY, VI)
  • Digital – 20: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AL, BR, EN, EX,FR, GR, ID, JW, MA, MJ, NE, NV, OY, QN, RD, RH SC, SR,VI, VY)
  • Digital – All: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AD, AL, AN, BR, EN, EX, FR, HM, ID, LB, MA, NV, OA, OV, OY, QN, RH, SR, SY, VY)
  • All Digital + Prints: Discount varies by ship. (Excludes AD, AN, EX, GR, HM, ID, JW, LB, MA, MJ, NE, NV, OA, OV, OY, QN, RD, SC, SY, VI, VY)

The Cruise Planner sale promises savings on certain shore excursions and drink package purchases.  Guests can check which discounts, if any, are available for their upcoming sailing by visiting the Cruise Planner site. Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.

Video: Retrofitting The Ultimate Abyss

By: Matt Hochberg

Among the many upgrades and changes coming to Oasis of the Seas is the addition of the 10-story Ultimate Abyss slide.

Royal Caribbean has spent $165 million in upgrades to make Oasis of the Seas even more impressive, and we have a sneak peek at what it took to add a fan favorite like this to the ship.

Oasis of the Seas returns to service on November 24, when she sails from PortMiami and delivers a lineup of new experiences for guests to enjoy.

We have a list of all the changes coming to Oasis of the Seas, along with a deck-by-deck look at what has been replaced or removed during the work.

Getting married on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

By: Matt Hochberg

Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Episode 328 is available for downloading, where we share a listener's experience getting married on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Did you know that you can get married on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship? This week, Michael shares his recent wedding experience on Mariner of the Seas and talks about what it's like to get married on Royal Caribbean.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 328. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Royal Caribbean releases 2021 Europe sailings

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean released new information about summer 2021 European cruises.

Anthem of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas will return to Southampton and Barcelona respectively, while the brand-new Odyssey of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s second Quantum Ultra class ship, will sail through Turkey and Greece.

All itineraries are available to book as of today with the exception of Odyssey of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas which will be open to book the week of December 9.

Anthem of the Seas will be the first Quantum-class ship to take guests to ports in Norway including Stavarnger, Kristiansand and Geiranger. Other new stops for Anthem include Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark and Bordeaux, France. Select sailings include late nights in Paris, France and overnights in Rotterdam, Netherlands and Lisbon, Portugal. 

Anthem of the Seas 2021 Europe Itineraries

Harmony of the Seas will be sailing 7-night itineraries through the Western Mediterranean from Barcelona. For those wishing to start and end their trip in Italy, round-trip sailings from Rome are also available.

Harmony of the Seas 2021 Europe Itineraries

Odyssey of the Seas, set to debut in November 2020, will be Royal Caribbean’s first Quantum Ultra Class ship to visit the spectacular shores of both Turkey and Greece on numerous itineraries. Odyssey will open for bookings the week of Dec. 9, 2019.

Vision of the Seas will continue to offer 12-night Mediterranean itineraries from Barcelona sailing the Greek Isles and making stops in Kotor, Motenegro; Nice, France; Rome, Florence/Pisa, Italy and include an overnight in Venice, Italy and late nights in Split, Croatia.

Vision of the Seas 2021 Europe Itineraries

Select Jewel of the Seas sailings from her homeport of Amsterdam to the British Isles and Baltics will include overnights in Edinburgh (S. Queensferry), Scotland and in St. Petersburg, Russia; as well as late-nights in Liverpool, England – marking the first time a Radiance class ship calls to the city – and Bordeaux, France.

Jewel of the Seas will end the summer homeported in Barcelona, where she will offer sailings to the Iberian Peninsula and Greek Isles including stops in Cannes, France; Athens and Santorini, Greece.

Jewel of the Seas 2021 Europe Itineraries

Rhapsody of the Seas will spend another summer season in Venice offering 7-night sailings alternating between Greece/Croatia and the Greek Isles. Select sailings will offer late nights in Kotor, Montenegro.

Rhapsody of the Seas 2021 Europe Itineraries

Adventure of the Seas will offer 7- to 11-night sailings including overnights in St. Petersburg, Russia from Stockholm, Sweden and will also sail to Helsinki, Finland; Tallin, Estonia and Visby, Sweden. Adventure will be open for booking the week of December 9.

Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society members can begin booking sailings on November 13, 2019, with the general public available to begin booking on November 14, 2019.

10 tips for saving money on booking a Royal Caribbean cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

Anyone booking a Royal Caribbean cruise is going to want to know how to save some money. The price of a cruise will vary depending on a lot of factors, but there is always an opportunity to keep more cash in your pcket.

Cruise fares vary considerably, and insiders know there are a few tried-and-true ways to keep the cost of your next Royal Caribbean cruise low and save some of your money for other things (like spending it onboard your cruise).

1. Book Early

Booking early is one of the best strategies to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  As more and more people book a cruise, inventory drops and prices go up.  

Generally speaking, booking early is the safest and most reliable way to save on the price of your cruise. Booking more than a year in advance will garner you the lowest rates for quite some time and get you on the cruise you specifically want.  Heck, it's likely to even get you the best prices on even the most sought after staterooms.

Booking early also affords you the ability to track prices after you book because you can always apply any cheaper rates to your cruise up until final payment. 

2. Book at the last minute

This tip is clearly the opposite of our first tip but when all else fails, Royal Caribbean sometimes offers good prices on a cruise in the last couple of months leading up to the cruise. Some cruise fares drop to really absurd prices that make living at home more expensive. 

If you have the means to get to the port in short notice without incurring high travel costs, last minute cruises can be a great choice.  The problem with last minute sailings is you will have limited selection of itineraries and/or stateroom options.

Last minute cruises are usually past the final payment date, so booking the cruise will require full payment up front but the deals that are out there can be substatial if you can time it right.

3. Research your discounts

Royal Caribbean offers numerous discounts to different groups of people and demographis, so it is worth researching if any apply to you.

Regional and military discounts are offered from time to time to the general public while past Royal Caribbean cruises can get discounts based on their level of membership in the Crown and Anchor Society.

Crown and Anchor Society offers Savings Certificates that are available by logging into the Royal Caribbean site and seeing which certificates are currently available.  Select sailings will receive anywhere from $25 to hundreds of dollars off their cruise, which is usually stackable with other discounts.

4. Consider different room(s)

Sometimes booking two staterooms instead of one can actually save you money.  Larger families or those seeking more space may find two inside cabins cheaper than a larger room/suite.  This is especially true on older Royal Caribbean ships, where large balconies and suites are in less abundance.

Likewise, family staterooms and some suites may become available to the general public if unbooked and can offer lots of space for less cost.  It's important to consider all cabin categories before deciding which is the best choice.

5. Consider your time of year

Supply and demand dominates Royal Caribbean pricing strategy, which means cruises during Christmas, Spring Break and the Summer can much more expensive than other times of the year.

If you have the flexibility to go when kids are still in school, you can save lots of money.  Likewise, cruising during hurricane season can net you savings along with immediately after or before major holidays when most people do not have vacation time.

The difference in price between one week and the next can be tremendous, so if you can swing it, consider alternative weeks as a way to reduce the cruise fare.  Combining this tip with our first tip of booking early can save you even more.

6. Older ships are a great value

Royal Caribbean loves to advertise their newest cruise ships but the older class of ships are still great options for a cruise vacation and are prices much less on average.

Royal Caribbean has been working on refurbishing every one of its older cruise ships with amenities found first on the Oasis-class and Vision and Radiance class ships now offer modern upgrades and options that have breathed new life into these ships.

Even with the upgrades, older Royal Caribbean ships will have more competitive prices and are often located in smaller cruise markets that may mean a shorter trip to the port for you.  

And did we mention the older ships are still a lot of fun?  Radiance class ships are beautiful with their glass protected views of the ocean and Vision class ships pack a lot of fun into each vessel. 

7. Look for booking incentives

These days the fare you pay for your Royal Caribbean cruise may not change all that much but what you get for booking can make the difference between an average priced cruise and a cheap cruise.

Booking incentives like onboard credit, free gratuities and complimentary unlimited drink packages can save you hundreds of dollars and it's important to see what offers are out there.  

Travel agents are often the best people to assist in finding these booking incentive deals.  

These days, most cruises can offer you at least some sort of booking incentive and every dollar saved counts!

8. Use your credit card rewards

Credit card rewards programs have never been more competitive and if you use credit cards to pay for every day purchases, you can rack up savings for your next Royal Caribbean cruise quickly. 

Royal Caribbean has partnered with Bank of America to offer a credit card that allows everyone to earn points towards onboard credits and even a free cruise.

Other credit cards also offer cash rewards that can be used towards your Royal Caribbean cruise.  By saving your points, you can cash out your reward points close to your cruise date to help reduce the cost of your cruise fare or help pay for things on your cruise.

9. Book your next Royal Caribbean cruise onboard

Royal Caribbean will reward new bookings made onboard its ships with bonus incentives.

Depending on how far in advance you book, the length of the sailing, stateroom type and fare type, you can get hundreds of dollars in bonus onboard credit. While the cruise fare price is the same onboard as back at home, the difference is Royal Caribbean will give you extra money to spend onboard.

10. Use a travel agent

Travel agents have their fingers on the pulse of what's happening in the world of Royal Caribbean offers.  They get word of new offers first and because it's their job to book cruises all day long, they know the system in an out.

I have used a travel agent to book every one of my Royal Caribbean cruises and I can't tell you how much time they have saved me, as well as money.  A good Royal Caribbean travel agent can be your partner in the planning process as well as saving you money.

I will admit not all travel agents are the same, and some are definitely better than others, so it is important to ask questions of them.  The good ones will be able to find the best deals for you and track any new deals that come out that can lower your cruise fare.

Our sponsor travel agency, and one I recommend, is MEI Travel.

Thanks to Tammy from for the inspiration for this post!