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6 mistakes to avoid while planning a cruise and sharing a cabin with a friend

In:
15 Apr 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

So you want to cruise with a friend, but can’t stop imagining everything that could go wrong.

Traveling with someone else can be awkward, or even disagreeable, without the right preparation.

You might be used to your own habits, but they can be jarring to someone who’s never shared a home or cabin with you before.

Maybe you prefer to sleep in a dark cabin late into the morning, while your friend jumps out of bed as soon as the sun rises.

When two people have different preferences or budgets for a vacation they’re both looking forward to, they’re likely to clash.

Reading a Cruise Compass

Whether you’re planning a trip with a friend, relative, or romantic partner, there are a host of things that could go wrong and create conflict.

Personal etiquette and communication are key to ensuring smooth sailing. 

After many cruises with friends and family, I’ve learned a few etiquette tips that help create harmony within a cruise cabin.

Here are the top mistakes you should avoid to prevent any awkward moments with the people you love.

1. Not splitting the beds

Did you know that you don’t have to share a bed?

Royal Caribbean staterooms have at least one bed that can be adjusted. You can either bring the beds together to create a Royal King or split them into two twin beds.

For friends who are sharing a cabin, but need some personal space, splitting the beds apart is a great hack.

You may have to request it beforehand or ask your stateroom attendant to help you move the beds apart, but it is worth it.

Split bed configuration inside cabin

This ensures that you don’t have to argue over the pillows, blankets, or mattress space.

Anyone who loves their personal space will find that separate beds will go a long way toward improving the energy of their vacation.

For added privacy, be sure to use the provided curtains between spaces. 

If there are none, you can always create your own.

Read moreI tried the best inside cruise ship cabin hacks to see how well they worked

2. Forcing them to buy a drink package

Castaway Spritz

The Royal Caribbean drink packages aren’t for everyone, so be sure that you discuss them beforehand with your cabin mate.

If you go ahead and purchase a deluxe drink package, every other adult in your stateroom is also required to buy one.

Royal Caribbean does not allow guests to share a drink package between multiple adults. 

Each adult of drinking age will be required to purchase one if one adult in their party does so.

Drink package

This means that you shouldn’t just go ahead and purchase one without their agreement!

Not only is it expensive, but the drink package also works best for guests who are going to have 5-6 drinks a day on their cruise.

It doesn't work for every lifestyle, so be sure that you communicate beforehand about what you’d prefer.

Don’t leave one person stuck, required to purchase an expensive beverage package.

3. Keeping your budget a secret

Budget

One of the biggest blows to a trip with friends is the clash between personal budgets.

Some people might have been saving for years, ready to blow it all, while others are hoping they’ll only spend $100-200 on their trip.

When two different budgets collide, the fallout can be intense. 

I’ve heard horror stories: one friend complaining that the other is too worried about money to have any fun, while the other feels that they’re being inconsiderate and selfish.

To avoid a friendship breakup, discuss your budgets beforehand.

While you don’t need to have the exact same budget as your friend, having a similar level of planning and communication ensures that you can stay on the same page.

Having an open, honest conversation before even booking the cruise is the best way to meet in the middle on money.

I like to call my friends even before we start planning, and honestly let them know how much I’m hoping to spend on the cruise. 

Once they reciprocate, you both can come to a compromise and discuss your various priorities.

Honesty is really the best policy when it comes to spending on a cruise. Otherwise, resentment can quickly build up and destroy a relationship, not to mention a cruise vacation. 

4. Hogging the charging ports

Cruise ship staterooms, even on Royal Caribbean, are notorious for never having enough charging ports available.

Most cabins only have a couple sockets, located by the desk, and none by the beds at all.

And we live in a time where most people have multiple electronic devices to charge, from phones to laptops to cameras. 

If you’re not careful, one guest could start to hog all the charging space. 

charging-comaparison-carnival-and-royal

To avoid fighting over the phone charger, plan ahead by bringing a cruise-safe power strip or a power bank.

Personally, I like to bring along a portable charge that I can charge every couple of days, and then use to power my devices in between.

Don’t be greedy! Make sure that everyone gets a chance to charge their devices.

Read more: What to bring on a Caribbean cruise? 23 essentials to pack

5. Denying yourself alone time

Not setting aside any time alone can be the most exhausting part of a cruise, especially for those of us who are introverts.

On a cruise, you’ll often travel with at least one other person, and come into contact with many other guests, bartenders, waiters, and tour guides.

If you’re not careful, you could go the whole length of the cruise without a single quiet moment alone.

Pool on a cruise ship

And that social exhaustion can sneak up on you quickly, making a fun vacation feel more like a chore. 

To avoid turning into a cranky, antisocial mess, make sure you prioritize your alone time from the beginning.

Start your cruise by finding a few quiet spots onboard. I like to sit in Central Park, find a quiet hot tub, or chill at a dark bar alone.

If you need an excuse, bring along a book to read, or plan a quick phone call.

But it’s best if you can be honest with your travel buddy, and let them know whenever you need a quiet moment alone.

Chances are they’d be grateful for one, too.

6. Setting unrealistic expectations

Everyone dreams big for their first cruise. 

You may have hopes of huge parties, delicious food, incredible tours, and warm beaches.

But it’s important to set realistic expectations, both for yourself and with the people you’re traveling with.

For example, if you’ve selected to sail on a bigger ship, don’t expect to be delivered right to unique, smaller ports.

Wonder of the Seas docked

Or if you’re traveling with a homebody who prefers quiet evenings, don’t expect them to suddenly join you at every late-night event.

You can’t have everything, so set priorities of what’s most important to you, and release control of the rest.

Otherwise, you may accidentally build up a sense of disappointment and resentment, and end up ruining the cruise for yourself. 

Is Royal Caribbean still going to Labadee, Haiti?

In:
15 Apr 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has stopped all visits to its private destination of Labadee, Haiti due to violence and lawlessness in the country.

Labadee from the top of its zipline

Labadee is the name of a beach area reserved exclusively for the use of Royal Caribbean ships and its passengers on a peninsula in northern Haiti.  It's walled off from the rest of the country and Royal Caribbean employs a private security force there.

Royal Caribbean has leased the 260-acre site since the 1980s, and it's 130 miles north of Port-au-Prince (about a six-and-a-half-hour drive) and has not been impacted by other periods of unrest in the country.

There news reports of violence and killings in and around the capital of the country, Port-au-Prince, due to gang activity.

In March, Royal Caribbean announced "in an abundance of caution" its cruise ships would halt visits while the cruise line monitors the safety of the situation.

Prioritizing the safety of its guests and crew members is why Royal Caribbean made the decision, as it does in any part of the world which faces geopolitical issues.

"Please know that the safety and comfort of our guests are always our highest priority. Our Global Security and Intel Team is closely monitoring the evolving situation in Haiti, and in an abundance of caution, we are temporarily making adjustments to sailings visiting Labadee," the cruise line announced.

As the summer 2024 cruise season approaches, many are wondering what is happening with scheduled visits to Labadee and what are the chances it will still occur.

Visits cancelled through September 2024

Labadee

Royal Caribbean has cancelled all visits to Labadee in between April and September 2024.

"We have suspended all visits to Labadee fleetwide... and we continue to monitor the situation with our Global Security & Intelligence team," the company posted on their website in their latest update.

For sailings beyond September 2024, Royal Caribbean is monitoring the situation and will advise guests booked on cruises that have a scheduled stop to Labadee if something changes.

Wonder of the Seas in Labadee

Usually these updates come in an email to passengers and travel agents in the weeks leading up to a cruise.

There is no set timeframe when a stop can be cancelled by, as the change could occur right up to the day the ship is scheduled to visit. We've seen emails go out much sooner than that, but it's important to note itineraries can change at any time.

Her is the official statement by Royal Caribbean:

We have suspended all visits to Labadee fleetwide through May 2024, and we continue to monitor the situation with our Global Security & Intelligence team. Please know that the safety and comfort of our guests are always our highest priority. We are committed to keeping you informed, and itinerary modifications are being communicated directly to guests ahead of their sailings. Please check back for any potential changes. Thank you for your understanding.

Factors influencing Royal Caribbean’s decision

While there has been no reported incidents of violence in Labadee, an abundance of caution seems to be the primary factor in cancelling calls to Labadee.

Royal Caribbean has a team at headquarters that monitors incidents that could impact their cruise ships.  From severe weather, to political situations, to economic factors, these are all taken into consideration when it comes to the safety of its guests, crew, and ships.

In March 2024, Royal Caribbean announced its first ever world cruise would bypass the Middle East due to unrest in the area of the Red Sea.

As the situation deteriorated there, Royal Caribbean took proactive action to change the sailing and move the ship elsewhere.

Where are Royal Caribbean ships are going instead of Labadee?

CocoCay beach

With Royal Caribbean ships getting re-routed away from Haiti, alternative ports of call are the first choice in trying to update an itinerary.

Each ship has its own replacement option, as choices of where a cruise ship can go instead depend on factors contingent on that day. That means a ship cannot just change where it goes arbitrarily. It's dependent on availability of an open port.

Some ships have gone to Grand Turk; Perfect Day at CocoCay; or Falmouth, Jamaica.

Oasis sea day

In other cases, the ship stays out at sea and a sea day replaces the visit.

There is no obligation or requirement for the cruise line to replace the scheduled port visit with another port. 

Royal Caribbean News Round-up April 14, 2024

In:
14 Apr 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

Happy weekend! I hope Spring is starting to arrive where you live.  Regardless of the weather, it is time to sit back, relax, and check out the latest in Royal Caribbean news!

Should you cruise to Europe in July? What about October?

Norway cruise ship in fjord

Cruising to Europe is a bucket-list item for many.

But before you book that dream vacation, there are some important times to avoid sailing in Europe.

From scorching-hot temperatures to massive crowds, here's how to avoid booking the worst months to cruise to Europe.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Brilliance of the Seas

The 530th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available! 

Matt answers listener questions from his email inbox, addressing all the most pressing concerns.

From choosing your Hideaway cabana location to reef snorkeling at Perfect Day at CocoCay, listen to all the details now.

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.

New RCB Video: 9 things that surprise people on Royal Caribbean

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 — 9 things that surprise people on Royal Caribbean — and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.

Should you tell the waiter if you won't be there for dinner? 5 cruise ship etiquette questions

Breakfast in mdr

Every new cruiser wants to ensure that they're not a nuisance to crew members and other guests.

Going on a cruise involves a new set of specific manners that can take a little adjustment from first-time cruisers.

Should you let the waitstaff know ahead of time if you won't be in the Main Dining Room? Can you bring a personal Bluetooth speaker?

We went ahead and answered some specific cruise ship etiquette questions in this article.

New Australia cruises released

Royal Caribbean has released its Australia 2025-2025 deployments, with one ship sailing to Australia for the first time.

For the 2025-2026 cruise season, 45 long and short cruises are planned

Royal Caribbean is sending two ships in particular: Voyager of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas.

Why some people hate hiding ducks on a cruise ship fad

Neesa-duck

Hiding rubber duckies onboard is a popular cruise ship trend started by 11-year-old Abby Davis.

But some cruisers are less than happy about the fad

Critics complain that rubber ducks can spread germs and diminish the sophisticated cruise atmosphere they hope for.

What regulations do you need to follow to hide a duck onboard? And what do you think of the trend?

It's not just you. Royal Caribbean cruisers report problems logging into accounts

In:
13 Apr 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

If you've had problems logging into your Royal Caribbean account, you are not alone.

log-in-royal-caribbean-website

Since early last week, many readers have reported problems logging into their Royal Caribbean account suddenly.

The issues seemed to have begun on April 9 with an error when someone tries to login with the correct username and password.

Acessing your Royal Caribbean account provides access to cruises you have booked, where you can manage an upcoming sailing.  This includes being able to make payments, book shore excursions and other add-ons.

Royal Caribbean's website

After inputting the correct login credentials, the website responds with the error, "The email or password is not correct." It further warns additional login attempts could result in the account being locked.

According to reports by Royal Caribbean Blog readers, it affects both the Royal Caribbean app and website.

Neesa shared her annoyance at the problem, "Same, android hits a snag. Directed me to change password. Still can't get on. Uninstalled and then installed again still no good...ugh, so frustrating."

U_Baz0 also wrote, "Yeah having the exact same issue, really bizarre."

RC app

The problem has continued for the following days, and our readers are still reaching out to inquire about the problem as of the posting of this article.

A screenshot from the Royal Caribbean X account indicates they are aware of the problem.

Royal Caribbean support screenshot

The problem also seems to be affecting sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises' website.

How to fix being unable to login

Angry person

While Royal Caribbean has seemingly not implemented a fix on their end yet, many readers have reported success to get around the problem.

Instead of trying to login, first reset your password on the Royal Caribbean website.  Change the password to something else, and then try logging in again.

Forgot password

In my case, this strategy worked.  

Some people reported the workaround not solving the issue for them. 

KKcarl wrote, "We have not been able to access the app for two days. I changed the password and tried to uninstall the app at least three times. Still get the "Sorry, we hit a snag" error message.  Very frustrating."

Some readers also reported having to uninstall and then re-install the Royal Caribbean app to get it working, even with the password reset.

Call the cruise line if it's important

Using a phone

While Royal Caribbean works on a solution, if you have a time critical issue to handle, you can always call Royal Caribbean.

Booking entertainment, making a final payment, and taking advantage of a good promotion on a pre-cruise offer are all able to be done by contacting Royal Caribbean by phone. 

The Royal Caribbean phone number is 1-800-256-6649.

I do not recommend emailing them with any timely problems.

Spotted: Construction equipment arrives to Royal Caribbean's Bahamas beach club site

In:
13 Apr 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Eagle-eyed cruisers spotted what looks like construction equipment on the site of what will be Royal Caribbean's next big project.

Equipment has arrived to Nassau Beach Club

Royal Caribbean has big plans for a new private beach club in Nassau, Bahamas that will open sometime in 2025. Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island is the cruise line's first such club, and perhaps one of the early steps is beginning.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Susan Linhares shared photos from Friday of equipment arriving to the narrow strip of land near the Port of Nassau.

Equipment arriving at Royal Beach Club

A barge carrying earth moving equipment was spotted being offloaded onto the area.

Equipment arriving at Royal Beach Club

On Saturday morning, Earl McGrath took additional photos that showed the equipment still in place.

Equipment at Royal Beach Club
Equipment at Royal Beach Club

A first-of-its-kind experience

Nassau Beach club render

When it opens, the Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island will offer Royal Caribbean cruise ship passengers a new option while visiting Nassau. Nassau has traditionally been rated poorly by cruise ship passengers for a lack of compelling experiences.

The beach club is an attempt to address that issue, as Nassau is one of the busiest cruise ports for Royal Caribbean. Given its proximity to the United States and the close relationship the cruise line has with the country, Royal Caribbean cannot afford to allow a poor guest experience.

Royal Beach Club concept art

Located on Paradise Island adjacent to where the cruise ships dock, the 17 acres site promises to create, "the ultimate beach day."

The Royal Beach Club is exclusively for Royal Caribbean cruise passengers, but unlike its private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay, admission is not complimentary. Instead, it will cost extra to visit the beach club and space is limited to about 2,750 guests per day. This means not everyone on the ship will have the opportunity to go.

Read more: CocoCay tips, advice, and everything you need to know

Royal Beach Club render

Pricing details are not yet known, but the new club will offer beach and pool access, lunch, and the rental of a beach chair.

There will be private cabanas, pools, and special attention to highlight Bahamian culture within the space. This includes Bahamian fare, island-style barbecues, live music, and local artisans. 

Opening in 2025

royal-beach-club-pool-concep

The exact timeline for when the Royal Beach Club will open is unknown, but the line said it expects to start operations in 2025.

In an interview with a local Bahamian newspaper in January 2024, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley indicated it would be a summer 2025 opening.

According to Bayley, ground breaking could happen soon, "The Royal Beach Club project is moving along through the process. There’re a few more details that need to be confirmed and ironed out with our partners and with the government. We’re hoping to break ground in the coming weeks but certainly by the end of the first quarter we need to start breaking ground."

Owned & operated by Bahamians

royal-beach-club-info-4

Something truly different about this beach club will be how equity is shared with the Bahamian people.

49 percent of the The Royal Beach Club will be owned by Bahamians, with Bahamians running, managing, and operating it.

Bahamians will be invited to invest in the project and hold equity up to 49 percent, with the remainder being held by Royal Caribbean. 

In addition to keeping profits in The Bahamas through the equity program, the Royal Beach Club will participate in a new tourism levy that will direct 1% of gross profits to a fund to improve attractions and experiences in The Bahamas.

Over 10 years, the economic impact is projected to be approximately $1 billion through guest spend, government taxes and other expenditures.

Royal Caribbean's bold short cruise strategy

Utopia of the Seas night render

The Royal Beach Club is one piece of of the cruise line's careful maneuvering to dominate short cruises.

First and foremost, no other cruise line has beach clubs. That will be a difference maker for anyone considering a cruise ship vacation.

Moreover, it's located in the heart of where short 3- and 4-night cruises visit, meaning it boosts a major cruise port offering exclusively for the benefit of Royal Caribbean passengers.

Utopia of the Seas at CocoCay

The new club will be flanking the cruise line's change of having the brand new Utopia of the Seas offer short cruises beginning in July 2024. 

Typically, big new cruise ships sail 7-night cruises, but Royal Caribbean wants to dominate the short cruise market by offering weekend sailings on its best ships in a bid to attract new cruisers.

In September 2025, Wonder of the Seas shifts to offer weekend cruises as well.

Combined with a visit to the already super popular Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean will soon offer short cruises that appeal to first-time cruisers that offer port visits no other cruise line can match.

A second beach club in Mexico

Cozumel beach club

Following up on its Nassau beach club will be the Royal Beach Club Cozumel, opening in 2026.

Similar to The Bahamas, the Cozumel beach club will have beaches, swim-up bars, pools, private cabanas, snorkeling, kayaking and other activities. There will also be a restaurant, bar and lounge, a street market and hands-on experiences like tequila tastings and cooking classes. 

No specific site has been announced, but it will be located "along the western coast of the island."

Choosing the Quietest Cabins on Royal Caribbean

In:
12 Apr 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

Royal Caribbean allows you to choose your cabin location, so how do you pick the quietest one?

How to find a quiet cabin

If you’re a light sleeper, you may need to find cabins that have the least amount of noise around them.

A noisy cabin makes for an unpleasant, inconvenient cruise.

You may have small children or light sleepers in your party who can be woken up by the slightest sound. 

Or you could enjoy taking naps, or just want an undisturbed environment on your cruise.

Freedom-Interior-Stateroom-1

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

The best way to ensure this is to pick a savvy stateroom location. 

If you know what to look for, you can choose the best cabin for your needs by carefully selecting the location and looking through deck plans.

This guide provides our best tips for selecting a cabin location that will offer a peaceful, quiet environment for your cruise vacation.

Analyze the ship’s deck plans

Room booking on website

When guests (or travel agents) book a cruise without Royal Caribbean, they are given the option to select their own specific cabin location.

By picking this option, and selecting your stateroom carefully, you can ensure that you choose the quietest room available.

You’ll start by picking a particular room type, whether you’re looking for a suite, balcony, oceanview cabin, or a windowless interior.

Within this category, you’ll have the option to select the price you’d prefer.

Then, you can select the location (forward, mid-ship, or aft) and the particular deck you’d like to stay on.

Then, the website will display a deck plan and allow you to choose the exact stateroom you’d prefer.

Before you choose one, look through the ship’s deck plans to strategically pick out the location.

odyssey of the seas interior cabin deck plan

Make sure that you look through each individual plan for each ship because it’s also important to look at the decks above and below your potential cabin.

While looking through the deck plans, you can find the particular cabin number and field any research noise concerns before you choose your stateroom.

Read more: Your really dumb cruise ship cabin questions answered

Avoid high-traffic areas like the Royal Promenade

icon-of-the-seas-royal-promenade-hero

While looking through cabin location choices, make sure that you avoid areas that receive high traffic—especially at night.

Crowded areas, like the Royal Promenade or Esplanade, the dining rooms, entertainment venues, the night clubs, comedy clubs, the kitchen, and the casino, will consistently be noisy.

These areas fill up with guests throughout the day and even late into the night. 

Casino on Royal Caribbean

A cruise ship’s schedule is often non-stop, with trivia games in the day, dance parties late into the day, and restaurants open all day long. 

Any cabins near these high-traffic locations will be subject to the noises of live music, pounding feet, loud voices, and cruisers having fun.

If you’re looking for a quieter cabin—especially if you’re a light sleeper or someone who likes to go to bed early—you don’t want to book a cabin close to these areas. Don’t forget to check the decks above and below your potential cabin.

Make sure you’re not located below the pool

Don’t just look at the deck the stateroom is on when you’re analyzing deck plans, also check what’s above and below that deck.

In particular, ensure you’re not choosing a cabin below the lido (aka the pool deck). 

The location of the pool deck varies depending on the ship, so you’ll want to verify where it is through the deck plans.

Handwashing stations

A cabin directly below the pool deck could be subject to noises like music and splashing all day long. Not only are there ample activities and bars on the pool deck, but Royal Caribbean also often puts the Windjammer close by.

The Windjammer is a complimentary buffet that is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so it ends up hosting many cruisers all throughout the day. 

A cabin close to this location would not get much peace and quiet.

Stay towards the back of the ship

On my first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, I stayed in a forward cabin at the bow of the ship. 

Although I’m usually a deep sleeper, I was shocked awake multiple times by a loud clanging, metallic noise. 

Read more: Wonder of the Seas Cabins to Avoid

At first, I wondered if the ship was crashing into something!

However, I later found out that we were hearing the noise of the anchor chains running across the deck.

Forward cabins are often subject to noise from the anchor, which can be quite a shock when you hear it for the first time. Keep in mind this only happens in tender ports, which are not very common for a Royal Caribbean ship.

To avoid experiencing this terrifying early morning sound, look for cabins that are closer to the middle and the stern of the ship.

Check that your cabin is further away from elevators

If you’ve ever used an elevator on a cruise ship, you understand how crowded they can get.

Royal Caribbean ships run from 12 to 20 decks high, with activities packed on every deck.

And on a cruise vacation where guests are there to relax, no one really feels like taking the stairs.

Read more: Why you should skip the elevator on your cruise

Radiance Class elevators

Safe to say, elevators get a lot of traffic on board, and they make beeps and chimes every time they arrive and depart.

Staying close to an elevator could bring a lot of noise to your cabin, as people talk while walking to and fro, doors open and close, and the elevator chimes.  

Especially at night, you will find that drunk cruisers don’t make their way to their staterooms very quietly!

Being away from areas like elevators ensures that you won’t get the late-night noises of the club brought to you.

Look for staterooms surrounded by other guest cabins

In general, the quietest stateroom locations will be ones with other guest cabins above, below, beside them, and across the hallway.

The walls are thick between staterooms, and you’re less likely to hear the noises of people getting ready or going to sleep.

The quietest locations are usually the ones next to other guests looking for a quiet room. 

stateroom-hallway-celebrity

After all, there’s usually less traffic between staterooms than inside the casino, or near a dining venue. 

Read more: Royal Caribbean cabins for 5 or more people

Don’t get a connecting cabin

Connecting door

One caveat to this previous tip is that you don’t want to get a cabin with connecting doors, especially if you’re not going to use it.

If you don’t need a cabin that connects to another guest’s, try to avoid booking one.

These rooms have a door that connects between them, usually with a thinner material than the walls.

Connecting balconies

Even if you keep the door closed and locked for the length of your cruise, the door can still let noise through and you’re likely to hear the guests in the other room.

The party staying in that adjourning room is out of your control, and you never know if they’ll be a loud group.

For your own privacy, it’s better to stay in an individual cabin.

14 improvements Royal Caribbean developed just for Icon of the Seas

In:
12 Apr 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

If necessity is the mother of invention, Icon of the Seas has a lot of children.

Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean designed Icon as a "white paper cruise ship", which means it was build from start with no pre-conceived notions or basis on other ships.

In developing the ship, new ideas for Icon required changes and improvements to Royal Caribbean's standard operating procedure on other ships. As a result, a number of innovations and improvements came out of the process.

The ship's cutting-edge advances were heralded by Heather Bishop, VP, Digital Product at Royal Caribbean Group, and Jennifer Goswami, Director Product Development at Royal Caribbean Group. Both spoke at Seatrade Global conference in Miami earlier this week.

In recounting what makes Icon different, we counted 14 different improvements Royal Caribbean came up with just for Icon of the Seas.

Chat with Guest Services in the app

Royal Promenade Icon of the Seas

Making it easier for passengers is an overarching goal with these improvements, starting with giving guests a way to bypass the Guest Service line.

Within the Royal Caribbean app, guests can chat directly with Guest Services.

Before you get an officer, you'll first interact with an AI Bot, that can help answer the common questions guests want to know, like "What can my SeaPass do?" and "How do I access Wi-Fi?".

The "Human in the Loop"  features adds the ability to connect you to an actual agent, without having to physically visit Guest Services. 

Read more: Royal Caribbean's clever idea using AI to get help on the world's largest cruise ship

No photo kiosks

photos-app-split

You'll notice there are no photo kiosks on Icon of the Seas, because everything is handled within the Royal Caribbean app.

Traditionally, there was a photo area to go and view all the photos you took with the ship's photographers.  That area has been repurposed for something else, and instead, you can view photos within the Royal Caribbean app.

"We were analyzing where there were points in the vacation where guests kind of had to stop what they were doing," Ms. Bishop explained. "One of those is typically towards the end of the sailing, as they've accumulated photos, they would have to go down to the kiosk. And so there was a large crowd of people at the kiosk towards the end of the vacation."

Window on the Royal Promenade

Moreover, the team felt most people wanted their photos on their phone to be able to easily share with friends and family. By removing the kiosks and making it digital, you could eliminate lines and get people what they ultimately want.

Another traditional kiosk that's been removed are the shore excursion kiosks.

Taking away that space allows for a larger Royal Promenade, which is one of the nice ancillary benefits many guests note with Icon.

Destination elevators

Destination elevator

One of the most noticeable improvements is how efficient the elevators are on Icon of the Seas, thanks to the destination elevators.

"Elevators, while kind of not always the flashiest of technology, have been an absolute smash hit for Icon," Ms. Goswami stated.

"When you're waiting outside of an elevator for three, four, five minutes, we call them microwave minutes where they feel like the longest minute of your life," she said.

Elevator

Instead of pressing a button to wait for an elevator, guests push a button for which floor they want to go to and are assigned an elevator.

The change improves upon a problem that has plagued all cruise ships, and Royal Caribbean knew they couldn't go with traditional elevators on a ship planned to be even larger than the Oasis Class ships.

Read more: Icon of the Seas vs other Royal Caribbean cruise ships

Aquadome

Aquadome

Royal Caribbean sought to create a neighborhood on Icon that "evolves throughout the day", and the Aquadome is the result they came up with.

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

"We wanted to have one space that feels completely different at 9 a.m. versus 9 p.m.," Ms. Goswami explained.

"When you walk into the Aquadome during the day, you hear the waterfall we have. All of our technology is actually off intentionally because we really want it to be a quiet space."

The Overlook on Icon of the Seas

"As the day transitions, we really turn it on. It comes to life. It feels like a different space."

Overhead is the dome itself, and it weighs 367 tons and is comprised of 12 different modules that are made of steel, glass, and aluminum panels.

Aquatheater show on Icon

Though projection mapping isn’t new, they’ve enhanced it during Aquatheather shows.

"We've added so much more flexibility to create our entertainment programs within the Aquadome, because it's now an enclosed space."

Stateroom attendant app

Icon Balcony

One focus on Icon was providing crew members with products to help them be more efficient and provide better service.

A new stateroom attendant app replaces the pads of paper they would traditionally carry around to track their progress between cabins. 

"Now we have an application for them that they can use to keep track of what rooms have been cleaned, and they get an alert if our guests have requested an item for their stateroom," Ms. Bishop said.

Guests can scan a QR code in their stateroom to indicate if they need additional towels, if there's an issue with the plumbing in their room, and that will send an alert to the stateroom attendant app, and they'll be able to provide service right away. This avoids having guests trying to flag down their stateroom attendant, or trying to find a phone to contact somebody.

Express boarding

Express Boarding pass

Royal Caribbean has been working on making the embarkation process as easy as possible, and Icon of the Seas offers an express boarding option.

If you complete all the pre-embarkation check-in steps via the Royal Caribbean app, you'll get an enhanced SetSail Pass that gets you through the check-in process even faster.

Read more: Royal Caribbean check-in process

Ready to check in

To qualify for it, you need to do the following within the Royal Caribbean app (not the website):

  • Scan your passport (don't manually enter it)
  • Take a selfie photo
  • Enter all the personal information, including a credit card
  • Complete the health questionnaire

Then when you at the terminal ,you can go through our express boarding lanes.

Port agents with iPads

Inside the cruise terminal

Speaking of a faster embarkation process, the port agents within the cruise terminal are now given iPads to help speed up the boarding process.

With up to 7600 guests coming through the terminal on embarkation day, the last thing Royal Caribbean wanted was people going up to a counter and forming lines.

These iPads can be used to view guest information, make updates, and get them checked-in.

"It also gives us the flexibility to move around and move the flow of guests around in the terminal," Ms. Bishop said.

Read more: 30 cruise ship embarkation day do’s and don’ts

Apple Pay

Something else new in the app is the ability to use Apple Pay and the ability to store up to four credit cards in a wallet.

"If you're laying in bed at night, like most of us probably do, thumbing through on your phone, dreaming about your vacation, now you don't have to get up to go find your credit card if you want to book a shore excursion or buy a beverage package, it's all right there in a couple of taps and really easy to do."

Virtual queues

Next Cruise on Icon of the Seas

Eliminating lines was something Royal Caribbean was targeting on Icon, and another area of improvement is for lines at NextCruise.

"Oftentimes, that area gets busy towards the end of the sailing, and so Jennifer's team looked at, how do we create this amazing, amazing lounge space for our company?"

The fix was to create a virtual queue, so if it does get busy (especially at the end of a sailing), the team working there can put guests into a virtual queue.

"You can relax comfortably in the chair with your drink and wait for your name to appear at the top of the board until you're until it's your turn."

"For you" section in the app

At the bar

Something else you might notice within the Royal Caribbean app is a new button labeled "For You", and it makes personalized recommendations for things like shore excursions, beverage packages, onboard activities, etc.

It does things like suggest a beverage package if you haven't purchased one, or create shore excursion recommendations.

In addition, there are better push notifications in the app on Icon.

"If you're getting close to your vacation, we offer great deals, great cruise, and we don't want you to miss out on that. So we're doing a lot of personalization around our push notifications as well."

Leveraging AI

Icon of the Seas galley

Artificial intelligence isn't new to Royal Caribbean, but it's being used more on Icon of the Seas.

"We've been using AI for things like food waste to make sure that we are doing modeling to make sure that we have enough food to keep our guests full and happy, but also reducing waste and not over, over ordering food," Ms. Bishop said.

Read more: How 6,000 Meals a Day Are Made on the World's Largest Cruise Ship

Icon-Chat-2

"We also use AI and generative AI now in our customer self-service... in order to provide the most efficient service for our guests, we want to get them the quickest answer as possible."

In short, it helps get guests answers to basic questions like hours of operation, or schedule of events.

Digitalized departure

Icon of the Seas in Miami

The app on Icon of the Seas also helps make getting off the ship on the final morning easier.

Guests can make a departure time request within the app, and then they will see when it's their turn to depart the ship in the app.

Read more: 8 reasons to get off your ship as early as possible on disembarkation day

A better pool experience

Chill Island pools

Not everything new on Icon has to do with technology. One focal point for this ship was to provide more connectivity to the ocean.

In the planning process, Ms. Goswami's team discovered in their research passengers felt cruise ships didn't provide much of a way to enjoy the ocean, "One of the most fundamental things that I think caught everybody off guard was that guests, while they're on the ocean, don't feel connected to the ocean."

"So you will see that now, even from the Royal Promenade all the way up, you can see the water."

Overlook

In addition, the team made another change compared to what you might find on the Oasis Class ships. Icon has a centralized hub for the pools.

"We also pushed our pools outward so that you can see the water while being in the water, but also creating different kinds of experiences."

"We do have one large pool when you want a party. We have smaller pools when you don't feel like a party. We've created different experiences that you can have across seven days."

A true crew neighborhood

Java-Cafe-Icon-2

Another important innovation for Icon was giving crew members a better experience.

Royal Caribbean centralized what crew members need while working and living onboard Icon, "They don't need to leave and go all the way aft for an experience. Everything that they have, their cafe, the food, the bars, they're all forward," Ms. Goswami described.

Royal Caribbean worked with crew members to better understand their needs and come up with what would benefit them.

Read more: Photos show the secret crew-only areas on Icon of the Seas

Should you tell the waiter if you won't be there for dinner? 5 cruise ship etiquette questions

In:
11 Apr 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

As a first-time cruiser, you never want to become a public nuisance.

Main Dining Room tables

After spending lots of time and money to book a relaxing and fun vacation, you’d hate to turn into someone inconsiderate onboard.

Being polite and following cruise ship etiquette will ensure that crew members and other guests won’t dread running into you. 

So, what details should you know, and what rules are important to follow?

New cruisers have some common, but specific questions that we’ve seen pop up over the years.

Icon of the Seas in shipyard

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to getting on a cruise ship for the first time.

Some common courtesies may not come automatically or seem obvious to you, so we’ve answered all your questions right here. 

From main dining room etiquette to who is allowed into the Crown Lounge, this is your guide to five common cruise ship etiquette questions.

Read more: 20 rules of cruise ship etiquette no one ever tells you (but should)

​​Should I tell the waitstaff if I won't be in the Main Dining Room ahead of time?

odyssey of the seas main dining room

Royal Caribbean’s Main Dining Room is the spot for complimentary gourmet meals served in elegant dining rooms on several decks.

Because the venue is especially popular for its multiple-course dinners, many cruisers eat there every night.

However, itineraries can get busy on a cruise, and with all the onboard activities and onshore excursions available, it’s possible that you won’t be able to attend your traditional dinner time.

There are also plenty of other restaurants to try—such as the Windjammer buffet and specialty dining.

Breakfast in mdr

So, if you know ahead of time that you won’t make it to the Main Dining Room for dinner, should you let your waitstaff know?

I’ve been told by culinary staff that if you have a reservation at a specialty restaurant, the Main Dining Room waiters will see it in their system and already know that you won’t make it to dinner.

The same would apply if you’ve ordered room service instead.

icon-windjammer

But what if you’re going to the Windjammer, or eating onshore at a port restaurant?

If you know ahead of time, it is considered polite and customary to let your servers know. Also, if you are seated with other guests who are not part of your group, it is polite to let them know so they don’t hold off ordering their meal waiting for you to show up.

This ensures that they can adjust their plans for the following night and avoid any food waste.

Royal Caribbean tries to stay flexible with dining options of all varieties, so it’s polite to inform them of your plans as much as you can.

Do I need to pay gratuities for my infant?

Kids together on Wonder of the Seas

Royal Caribbean adds gratuities to the final cost of the fare as a way to ensure crew members such as bartenders, waiters, cooks, and stateroom attendants are rewarded for their service.

Usually, gratuities are charged per person, for each guest onboard.

This includes children and even infants.

The cost of gratuity is applied to each individual guest, regardless of age or stateroom category.

Kids activities

Your child, no matter how young, is counted toward the number of people that the crew members are taking care of.

Read more: Mailbag: Why do I have to pay gratuities for my toddler?

While it makes sense that you don’t expect to pay the full price for smaller children, think about everything that crew members can do for your family.

Culinary service teams work to provide healthy food and high chairs and clean up any messes.

Crew members together

Your stateroom attendant will empty the trash with dirty diapers, and provide extra towels and sheets as needed.

And in the case of an emergency, crew members will also protect your children.

Even if you have a smaller human onboard, they still count as someone that the crew will be taking care of.

Read more: Should you prepay gratuities for a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Should I bring a Bluetooth speaker?

Oasis Lagoon

A waterfront vacation can be made even sweeter by the presence of your favorite songs, audiobooks, or even a loved one on a video call.

To hear these things better, should you bring a speaker onboard?

We don’t recommend it.

Most cruise lines ask that you keep Bluetooth speakers for use only in your personal stateroom.

white noise machine

By looking at any online forum, you’ll be able to tell that most cruisers do not appreciate the guests who bring their speakers and start blasting music for everyone else to hear.

Some guests may prefer silence at the beach. 

Other areas, like the pool deck on Royal Caribbean ships, could already have talented performers playing live music live.

The cruise line could even confiscate your speaker if you’re found to be disturbing the other cruisers.

Noise cancelling headphones

Remember that, while a cruise ship has space for plenty of fun and excitement, you’re still sharing it with other guests and should be considerate of their needs.

Instead, pack along a quality pair of headphones that allow you some privacy while still listening to your favorite noises.

Is it okay to bring my friends who aren't Diamond-tier into the Crown Lounge?

The Crown Lounge is a special, elegantly decorated lounge reserved for guests who are members of the Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club tiers of the Crown and Anchor Society.

The lounge access comes with snacks, nightly happy hour, and a Concierge to assist with any special needs or requests during the sailing.

It’s an exciting and luxurious benefit, so can you bring along friends and family?

crown-lounge-icon-interior-2

The answer is no, not unless they are also a Diamond, Diamond Plus, or Pinnacle level member.

Royal Caribbean’s website reads that this benefit is “exclusive” and “cannot be extended to include friends and family.”

Now, if you have a spouse or partner who is a member of your household and lives with you, you can request for them to be added to your Crown and Anchor account so they can receive the same status.

Royal Caribbean’s website says: “A Crown & Anchor Society member can be added into a relationship with other family members in the same household and receive equivalent tier status; however Cruise Points will remain according to actual cruises taken and calculated according to the number of nights sailed.”

Otherwise, they will not be able to enter the Crown Lounge.

We missed our traditional dining time, can I still go to the Main Dining Room that night?

The Main Dining Room offers two different dinner-time options.

You can either choose “My Time” Dining or traditional dining. My Time Dining will allow you to eat dinner whenever you choose. 

But with traditional dining, you’ll receive a particular assigned time and table. Guests who select traditional dining are expected to show up at their assigned time.

Can you still show up late?

If you are more than 15 minutes late (and especially if you haven’t warned your waitstaff ahead of time), they may close the doors or they may have reassigned your table.

Especially if you’re traveling with a larger group, they may no longer have the table space reserved for you.

From this point, you still have the option to switch to My Time Dining. If you get into that line, they will attempt to seat you when a table is available, although there may be a wait.

You can always try, as many guests find that Royal Caribbean waitstaff are as flexible as possible, and will attempt to seat you.

However, if you’d like to give up and try something else after showing up late, there are always other venues such as the Windjammer.

5 cruise ship etiquette questions

Oceanview staterooms on Royal Caribbean guide

In:
11 Apr 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

No matter which Royal Caribbean ship you cruise on, you will have many cabin categories to choose from.

From sprawling, multi-level suites to small, windowless inside cabins, Royal Caribbean provides options for every passenger.

Guests can choose their cabin category based on their budget, preferred location, amenities, views, or size.

When you book your cruise, you will choose which type of stateroom you prefer.

There are four main categories to choose from: inside cabins, oceanview cabins, balcony cabins, and suites.

Among these options, Royal Caribbean’s oceanview staterooms provide stunning views at an affordable price.

How do you know if an oceanview cabin is the right fit for you?

This guide will help you understand the different types of oceanview cabins, and their perks and amenities.

What is an oceanview stateroom?

Oceanview cabin

Every Royal Caribbean stateroom comes with a basic set of amenities that are included in your cruise fare.

This includes:

  • A bed that sleeps at least 2 people
  • Private bathroom and shower
  • Vanity desk and chair
  • Safe
  • Mini-fridge
  • Closet
  • Television
  • A dedicated stateroom attendant
  • Free cleanings once a day
  • Climate control
  • Hair dryer
  • Telephone

As the name suggests, an oceanview cabin adds the benefit of an outside view.

Balcony room on Wonder of the Seas

These types of cabins have a wide window or a porthole through which you get a panoramic view of the ship’s surroundings.

This allows guests to gaze out onto the ocean, shore, or landscapes the ship sails through, all from the comfort of their own room.

Not only does this window offer a clear view of the seaside, but it also provides natural lighting to the whole stateroom.

Like interior cabins, regular oceanview cabins can accommodate 2-4 guests per room.

If an interior cabin is the smallest, cheapest cabin category, an oceanview cabin is essentially the next step up.

It is an upgrade from the dark, windowless inside cabins, and a slight increase in cost.

Usually, they are slightly larger than interior cabins and about the same size as balcony cabins (without the extra area of a balcony).

Read more: Oceanview vs Balcony staterooms on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Wonder-Ocean-view-oceanview

They span up to 354 square feet.

Before you book an oceanview cabin based on that difference in size, remember that it depends on the cruise ship.

You should look at the area of each cabin category on your ship before choosing.

There are also several sub-categories of oceanview staterooms that you should consider before booking one.

What are the types of oceanview staterooms?

Oceanview cabin

Royal Caribbean offers a variety of oceanview cabins, allowing guests to choose based on their preferences and budget. 

When choosing the right type for you, keep in mind where you want the stateroom to be located.

Cabins on higher decks will have a better view, while ones near the front or back of the ship may make you seasick. Also, locations near high-traffic areas will experience more noise.

You will also want to take into account the dimensions of the cabin and compare it to the size of your party. Some oceanview staterooms have extra space and sofa beds for additional guests.

And, of course, take a look at your budget for the cruise. 

The different categories of oceanview staterooms mean that you have several price points you can choose from.

Interior Oceanview

Virtual balcony staterooms have a clever technological hack that gives guests a view of the ocean.

These cabins are located on the inside of the ship, without any real windows. Instead, they feature a virtual balcony: a floor-to-ceiling HD screen that displays a real-time video feed.

While there are no actual windows in this cabin, the virtual balcony provides guests with a more budget-friendly way of viewing the sea.

Outside Oceanview Stateroom

Oceanview cabin

Oceanview staterooms on the outside walls of the ship feature real windows or portholes.

These provide unobstructed views of the ocean. 

These cabins vary in size and amenities, but all consistently offer that view of the sea.

Spacious Oceanview Stateroom

Voyager of the Seas oceanview cabin

Spacious oceanview cabins are similar to outside oceanview cabins, just with some extra space.

They make for a wider stateroom and may include an added living area with a sofa.

These spacious cabins still have the porthole or window that provides an ocean view.

Panoramic Oceanview Stateroom

Panoramic ocean window cabin

A Panoramic oceanview stateroom offers an even wider ocean view, without the prices of a balcony cabin.

A panoramic, wraparound window in the cabin stretches 76 inches high and 103-321 inches wide for a large window view.

This expansive window provides incredible views.

Family Oceanview Stateroom (Ultra Spacious)

The family oceanview stateroom has an even larger living space, sleeping up to six people.

It spans from 265 to 328 square feet and includes a king-size bed with bunk beds in a separate area.

There is also a living area with a sofa bed, also separated for tons of privacy. They usually have portholes for that ocean view, and some also include an extra bathroom.

To book this room, you usually need a minimum of five people in your party.

You should expect them to cost more than a standard oceanview cabin, but they generally sell out slower due to the size of the groups required.

However, these staterooms are usually located at the very front or the very back of the ship. This may be a major drawback because it can leave guests inside more susceptible to feeling the ship’s motion and getting seasick.

Read more: Royal Caribbean stateroom options for larger families

Why choose an oceanview stateroom?

Voyager of the Seas spacious ocean view

So what are the benefits of booking an oceanview cabin? 

This category is popular for many reasons, especially for guests who want an exterior view but don’t have the budget for a balcony cabin.

Often, there is little price difference between an interior and an oceanview stateroom, making the upgrade worth it.

Read more: Inside cabin vs. oceanview cabin: Are the differences worth an upgrade?

DCL porthole

The spectacular views are the most obvious benefit of an oceanview stateroom. Guests can wake up to the sunny sight of wide blue water or rest while witnessing a gorgeous golden sunset.

An ocean view also allows you to watch the ship sail live into a port—an exciting experience!

There’s something naturally relaxing about being near the ocean and seeing the sun, and having a window in your stateroom can enhance your cruise vacation.

Natural lighting is another major advantage. The human body responds to sunlight, and having access to natural light can help you retain your natural body clock, waking up when the sun rises and sleeping when the sun sets.

Balcony room on Serenade of the Seas

Seeing sunlight can also calm your nerves, and the ocean view helps ease motion sickness.

In an oceanview cabin, you get views that you would otherwise have to go out into public areas to see. Your oceanview stateroom will provide a private sanctuary where you can retreat and witness nature without being bothered by crowds of other passengers.

However, if your stateroom’s location on board is important to you, an oceanview cabin provides fewer options to choose from. 

Most outside cabins are balconies, so oceanview staterooms are usually found in less desirable locations, like lower desks, or the front and back of higher decks.

Guide to oceanview staterooms on Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean's latest deployment features a new ship and a returning favorite to Australia in 2025-26

In:
10 Apr 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

It's been an eventful 2025-2026 deployment season with many ships changing places and regions, and that trend continues with the new Australia plans.

Royal Caribbean released its latest deployment with 45 long and short cruises during the 2025-2026 season from Australia.

There will be two ships down under, with Anthem of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.

New arrival

Anthem of the Seas will sail from Australia for the first time when she calls Sydney her homeport.

The ship will offer a range of 3- to 18-night cruises to New Zealand, around Australia, and to the islands of the South Pacific.

Royal Caribbean is also going to offer more short cruises on Anthem when she arrives in Australia. There are five 2- to 4-night coastal cruises meant to be easy getaways.

sydney-australia

There is also a 5-night getaway that visits Hobart, Australia.

The longer cruises will satisfy the needs of anyone that wants to explore more. There are 9- to 12-night cruises to New Zealand, including a pair of festive 9- and 11-night sailings for Christmas and New Year celebrations.

A returning favorite

Voyager-of-the-Seas

Voyager of the Seas will come back to Australia in December 2025 and feature a stop in a new port of call, Luganville, Vanuatu.

Voyager's itineraries include 7- to 9-night cruises to Noumea, New Caledonia, and Port Vila, Luganville and Mystery Island, Vanuatu, which includes two 8- and 9-night cruises over Christmas and the New Year.

There are also longer 12-night sailings from Singapore to Australia in December. These sailings will visit places such as Benoa, Bali, and Darwin and Airlie Beach, Australia. Plus, there are as many as 10 shorter 4-, 6- and 7-night trips that visit Airlie Beach and Cairns, Australia.

Wiggly sailings

The Wiggles

For the families out there, look for a series of Wiggly Cruises.

There will be six new Wiggly Cruises that are part of a new partnership between Royal Caribbean and The Wiggles.

The Wiggles

The sailings are between November 2025 and April 2026 and feature the Wiggly Friends, which are a group of secondary characters in The Wiggles. 

Young kids and their loved ones can look forward to character events, live concerts, exclusive Royal Caribbean x The Wiggles merchandise and more.   

Open for booking now

The new 2025-2026 cruises are available to book immediately on Royal Caribbean's website or through your travel agent. 

One more deployment left

The 2025-2026 deployment season is coming to a close, with just one more deployment left to announce.

During the week of May 13, 2024, Royal Caribbean will reveal its Singapore sailings between October 2025 - April 2026.