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Royal Caribbean cancels Star of the Seas inaugural sailing, delays arrival of new cruise ship

In:
27 Feb 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's second Icon Class cruise ship will take a little bit longer to arrive.

Star of the Seas concept art

On Tuesday, guests booked on the inaugural sailing of Star of the Seas received notification today by the cruise line that the sailing is cancelled.

The 7,600 passenger vessel was scheduled to debut on August 17, 2025 from Port Canaveral.

According to the email Royal Caribbean sent out, the ship will not be ready in time for that sailing, "after a review of the work that remains to be done, we’re unfortunately forced to delay the ship’s delivery date."

"As a result, we must cancel our inaugural 7-Night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day August 17th, 2025 sailing."

Star of the Seas and Icon of the Seas render

The new inaugural sailing of Star of the Seas is scheduled for August 31st, 2025.

They went on to apologize for the change in plans, "We’re truly sorry for the impact that this delay has had on your vacation plans."

Royal Caribbean did not specify exactly the reason for the delay in the new ship's delivery, but the fall out will affect those booked on the inaugural.  However, it's not unheard of for a new cruise ship to be delayed because it won't be ready on time.

Wonder of the Seas in Labadee

The cruise industry shutdown of 2020-2021 delayed the delivery of Odyssey of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, and Icon of the Seas.  Other cruise lines have delayed starts too from time to time with their new ships.

Guests booked on the cancelled August 17th sailing have the choice to be automatically moved to the new Star of the Seas inaugural sailing on August 31.  If selected, guests will be moved to a like-for-like stateroom onboard Star of the Seas. This excludes taxes, fees, gratuities (where applicable), and other non-cruise fare items.

Alternatively, guests can move to the Wonder of the Seas sailing departing on August 17th or the Icon of the Seas departing on August 16th. Guests' original stateroom category price will either be protected at their original cruise fare rate or reduced to the current cruise fare rate (whichever is lower). This excludes taxes, fees, gratuities, and other non-cruise fare items.

Odyssey of the Seas at dusk

If that's not satisfactory, guests can be moved to re-book any other Royal Caribbean International sailing, but they'll be responsible for any difference in pricing for your cruise fare, taxes, fees, gratuities, and other non-cruise fare items.

The final option is to cancel and get a full refund.

Guests must decide by March 12th, 2024 which choice they want, or they'll be automatically moved to the new Star of the Seas inaugural sailing.

Icon of the Seas aft

Star of the Seas follows up on the tremendously positive reception the public has had for Icon of the Seas, which is the first ship in the Icon Class.

When Star does arrive, she will feature the same neighborhoods that offer lots for passengers to enjoy, including Thrill Island, Chill Island, AquaDome, and the open-air Central Park. 

You can expect more than 40 ways to dine and drink, cutting-edge entertainment across the ship’s four signature stages – air, ice, water and theater – and a lineup of activities for adults, kids, teens and the whole family.

Icon of the Seas aerial

Without a doubt, Star of the Seas will have other features that will distinguish her from Icon.  Royal Caribbean typically tweaks a few venues and changes up offerings to make new ships stand out from others in the class.

At 250,800 gross tons, Star won't be bigger than Icon.  Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider talked on the inaugural voyage about what to expect with Star, and the Icon Class will not follow the Oasis Class trend of subsequently increasing the size of each new ship just enough to make it the biggest in the world.

Read more: Royal Caribbean ship classes ultimate guide

"That isn't the case on Icon. Star will not be a foot bigger. It will be 1198ft long. The third ship in the icon class, yet to be named publicly, will also be 1198ft long."

According to Mr. Schneider, there's no point in continuing that pattern, "We don't feel a need to do that right now. Maybe we'll change our mind. Never say never. But that isn't the design intent."

Under construction in Finland

star-construction

Star of the Seas is being built at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland, which is where Icon of the Seas was built, along with other ships such as Oasis and Allure of the Seas.

Star should be right around the same dimensions as Icon of the Seas, so it should be about 250,800 gross tons and carry approximately 5,610 passengers at double occupancy or up to 7,600 passengers at maximum occupancy.

When you add crew members, that brings the theoretical maximum amount of people onboard up to 10,000.

Star of the Seas logo

The Icon Class is a deliberate effort on Royal Caribbean's part to appeal to the family vacation market, including as many attractions as they've ever thought of in one ship. 

There's still one more Icon Class cruise ship on order, due in 2026. No details have been revealed yet about Icon 3.

I'm new to Royal Caribbean and tried 4 different kinds of cruise ships, here's what I like about each

In:
27 Feb 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

When I first started cruising in August of 2023, I thought I would never even learn the names of all Royal Caribbean’s different ships.

Royal Caribbean currently has seven classes: Icon, Oasis, Quantum, Freedom, Voyager, Radiance, and Vision.

With 28 ships to choose from—and more on the way!—it can feel intimidating to decide which one suits your preferences.

For the new cruiser, selecting the right class of ship to sail on takes a steep learning curve.

Fast forward to today, I’ve now sailed on five ships across four classes. This experience has given me a better grasp of what each class has to offer.

While the cruise line’s ships all stay true to specific branding and design, each class varies a lot when it comes to layout, amenities, atmosphere, and itinerary options.

The best fit for each person comes down to what they enjoy on their cruise vacation.

Sun rising in Alaska

If you’re looking for a floating resort with activities available onboard, you might prefer a bigger ship. 

But if you’re interested in unique itineraries with multiple ports of call, a smaller class of ship will be a better fit.

Read more: Royal Caribbean ship classes ultimate guide (2024)

I prefer an ambient onboard experience while cruising

My cruising style focuses on the quality of the ship itself. I love ships that have many onboard activities, or a peaceful onboard atmosphere. 

While unique itineraries are fun, they’re not the major draw for me when choosing a cruise.

I don’t mind a not-updated or cheap stateroom, since I enjoy spending time out and about onboard. Most Royal Caribbean ships have a uniform stateroom design, anyway.

odyssey of the seas pool deck

My perfect cruise vacation includes a packed schedule of relaxing by the pool, people-watching, enjoying tasty food, and then heading to the nightclub or other entertainment in the evenings.

I don’t usually spend extra money on specialty dining, so I don’t require ships to have many different options when it comes to dining venues. I prefer that the complimentary food tastes high-quality.

I usually cruise with fellow young adults, looking for parties and relaxing spots. I don’t cruise with children, so childcare or kid’s activities don’t factor into my decision-making.

hyperlink-nightclub

While I enjoy having many different activities to choose from, I like that balanced with a peaceful atmosphere. I dislike too much noise or large crowds, so I prefer ships with a calm ambiance or at least a location where I can get some quiet.

The best kind of ship is one where I have enough to explore over the length of the cruise, but not too much to be overwhelming. 

Oasis Class: Boundless fun

Ships I sailed on: Wonder of the Seas, Allure of the Seas

There’s a lot to love about the Oasis Class. As a new cruiser, these ships blew me away with the breadth of activities and entertainment.

Read more: All about Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class cruise ships

The ships feel huge—packed with food venues, shops, and plenty of other cruisers.

I love how many activities are available onboard, from ice skating to surfing to walking in Central Park. The same applies to specialty dining: there are an endless amount of venues to choose from.

These ships feel less like ships and more like walkable cities. 

The energy is infectious onboard. Crowds gather around and cheer on live musicians, elegant dinners host couples and families, and nightclubs pop with activity and dancing.

oasis-boardwalk

I always meet the most people—and make genuine friendships—when I’m on an Oasis Class ship.

However, there are downsides to a ship of this size. I find that you don’t get as many connections with crew members onboard, due to the amount of cruisers and crew members spread all over the ship.

It’s also insanely easy to get lost: I usually need 1-2 days to get my bearings onboard.

And lastly, it’s difficult to book shows. Reservations fill up quickly ahead of time, so I either have to check the app frequently, or get in line half an hour before the show. 

There usually ends up being enough seating, but you have to plan to get into the venue.

Read more: 13 things I wish I'd done differently on my first cruise, from avoiding seasickness to eating at different venues

Freedom Class: Quiet luxury 

freedom-main-dining-room

Ship I sailed on: Freedom of the Seas

If you want the activity and fun of an Oasis Class ship without all the noise and crowds, I recommend a Freedom Class ship.

This ship felt like an older, more chill version of Wonder of the Seas.

Read more: All about Freedom Class cruise ships

hot-tub-freedom-solarium

There was plenty to explore onboard, and the ship was in good condition. It also felt less crowded, but still had the fun parties and activities onboard that I enjoyed.

It was easy to reserve or find seating in the shows onboard, and they were fairly good quality! The entertainment wasn’t equal to what you might find on land, but it was plenty of fun for a cruise ship.

When it comes to downsides, the WiFi was incredibly slow on board—especially in the stateroom.

freedom-chops-starters

There also isn’t much variety when it comes to specialty food options, and the ship lacks a varied itinerary. 

Radiance Class: Vibrant community

Ship I sailed on: Radiance of the Seas

For a sense of fun yet serenity, Radiance of the Seas was one of my favorite ships.

She is a comparatively smaller ship but with a vibrant nightlife and ample activities.

On my Oasis Class cruises, we joined a community of fellow cruisers onboard. But on Radiance of the Seas, I felt as though I was joining the ship’s community.

Read more: All about Radiance Class cruise ships

Crew members seemed close, and recognized me when I walked around the ship. Captain Marek also brought a personal touch to the sailing by talking with and performing for guests.

Out of all my cruises, Radiance is the only ship where I’ve remembered the name of the captain and other crew members I met while onboard.

The tranquil size and close-knit community made for a peaceful yet warm atmosphere onboard the ship.

As a bonus, Radiance of the Seas is also small enough to attend many diverse ports. I loved getting to experience an entirely new country at our stops in Mexico!

If you’re looking for a pleasant onboard experience, but also want to see exotic ports of call, a Radiance Class ship is the perfect in-between.

Vision Class: Amazing itinerary 

Centrum on Enchantment of the Seas

Ship I sailed on: Enchantment of the Seas 

Honestly, I can see why people call Enchantment the worst Royal Caribbean ship.

She’s old—originally launched in 1996—and it shows.

I noticed that the ship was pretty rundown. Lights would flicker or crack in the stateroom, and the elevator also broke down for a full day during my cruise. 

Read more: All about Vision Class cruise ships

Despite the quality of the ship, I loved Enchantment’s complimentary food and ports of call. 

I sailed on her for a seven-day Mediterranean cruise, with a once-in-a-lifetime itinerary. Enchantment’s smaller size allows her to stop at small ports of call, including Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Palma de Mallorca, and Barcelona. 

Being able to visit so many new locations moved all my focus to tours and excursions, leaving little time or energy to explore much onboard.

For the type of cruise I was on, Enchantment does just fine. But a port-focus isn’t my favorite style of cruising.

Why you should get your cruise cabin serviced in the evening instead of the morning

In:
26 Feb 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

Should you ask to have your stateroom attendant make up your room in the morning or evening?

Wonder of the Seas balcony room

Royal Caribbean switched to once-a-day cabin service in February 2023 for standard cabins, and that means you can choose morning or evening service instead of twice a day.  If you're in a suite, you still get twice-a-day service.

Every cabin gets assigned a stateroom attendant who is part of the ship’s housekeeping team. 

They work throughout your cruise to clean and tidy your cabin, take out the trash, replace linens, and keep the area fresh.

Towel animal in bed

Your stateroom attendant also helps with any room requests you might have, such as ice or laundry.

In addition to getting your room cleaned at no extra charge, you will also have the opportunity to choose what time your stateroom attendant comes to clean the room.

On embarkation day, the attendant will introduce themselves and ask what time you prefer your room cleaned: morning or evening?

Read more: 15 Things To Do As Soon as You Get to Your Cruise Cabin

Icon of the Seas cabin 10225

The choice is yours! And it all depends on the vacation schedule you prefer. 

What time you wake up, where you eat, and what activities you go to are all factors you’ll want to consider when selecting a time.

Personally, I always select the evening for the smoothest cruise vacation possible. There are several reasons this is a more efficient choice for many cruisers.

You won’t be rushed out of bed

On my first cruise, I requested to get my room cleaned in the mornings, and I regretted it.

Even on weekends, I’m used to waking up naturally by 8:00 or 9:00 A.M. 

I assumed that I wouldn’t be sleeping in for long on the cruise, and we would already be up and out of the room by the time the steward arrived.

But little did I know, staying in a windowless inside cabin would give me the soundest sleep of my life.

Without windows and natural light to wake me up, I would sleep soundly until 10:00 or even 11:00 A.M! 

Because we slept for so long, we were woken up almost every morning by our steward knocking on the door, ready to freshen up the room.

Of course, I can’t blame her—she wanted to finish cleaning at the time we had requested.

But if I had known how soundly I would sleep in that stateroom, I would have cleared my entire morning schedule.

Sleeping through the morning without a care in the world was a delightful part of that cruise.

By requesting to have your room cleaned at night, you’ll give yourself the freedom to wake up slowly and get dressed in a leisurely manner.

You’ll also be able to enjoy splitting your morning between breakfast, your room, and the pool area without disturbing your steward as they clean.

With an evening cleaning time, you won’t have to worry about your cabin attendant waiting on you to get out!

Read more: I tried the best inside cruise ship cabin hacks to see how well they worked

You’ll never have to make your bed post-afternoon nap

Navigator-of-the-Seas-Interior-Stateroom

Some cruisers prefer the morning time because they can wake up, hop out of bed, and know that their attendant will come to make the bed soon.

When you’re traveling with a buddy, it’s reassuring to have all parts of cleaning taken care of: no one has to argue over who picks up what or how to make the bed.

Having your bed made after the last sleep of the day is a great idea.

The Hideaway on Icon of the Seas daybeds include towels, water, and champagne

But let’s be realistic; this is vacation! Taking the opportunity to rest as much as possible is the name of the game. 

Whether you prefer mid-morning or afternoon naps, you’ll likely hop back into bed at some point after that morning alarm.

If you choose to have your stateroom cleaned in the evening, naptime will be over and the attendant will come make the bed directly after.

You can gear up for the evening’s activities without worrying about making your bed.

You’re already consistently out of the room for dinner

Table for two

In my experience, a cruise’s dinner schedule is a much more consistent routine than the breakfast.

Most people order room service for breakfast, make their way up to the Windjammer, or dine in the Main Dining Room in the morning. 

But dinners usually require a specific reservation and consistently take 1.5 to 2 hours.

freedom-main-dining-room

In the Main Dining Room, you may be assigned a specific time to eat.

If you book a specialty restaurant, you’ll have a certain dinner reservation time to make.

This ensures that you’ll be out of the room at a specific time enjoying your meal and not worrying about if you’ll have to head back to the room at any time.

Goat Cheese Salad

I prefer to ask my stateroom attendant to come during my traditional assigned time at the Main Dining Room. That way, I plan on heading out of my room anyway, and we all have a consistent time to look forward to each evening.

Sand from the day’s adventures gets cleaned up before bed

Beach swing

What’s a cruise without a day sunning yourself at the beach?

Whether it’s the private shores of Perfect Day at CocoCay, the pink sands in Bermuda, or the famous cool waters of Palma de Mallorca, you’ll likely have at least one beach day on your vacation.

Of course, a day at the beach is something we all dream of. 

Aruba beach

But the reality is that the post-clean-up is not so glamorous.

When you come back to your cabin, you’ll likely track in sand and sea salt before you clean up for dinner.

Read more: 30 Cruise cabin hacks that cruisers love

With an evening visit from your stateroom attendant, you can quickly shower off the grime, head to dinner, and then return to a fresh cabin without any lingering sand. 

Inside cabin bed

Even if you don’t, many popular shore excursions involve hiking, biking, or long walks that leave you sweaty and tracking in dirt.

If you choose the morning time, you’ll have to languish in sand and dirty towels until the next day. 

By the time your steward comes in the morning, you might already be at your next messy adventure! 

Royal Caribbean is making more money than it expected. The good and the bad news for cruisers

In:
26 Feb 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Despite all the challenges of the last few years, the cruise industry is red hot right now. So much so, it is advising its investors to expect a banner year.

Wonder of the Seas aerial photo

Royal Caribbean Group expected 2024 to be a very good year, but it had to revise expectations because business is doing better than it predicted.

In just the few weeks since Royal Caribbean Group reported its 2024 earnings outlook, the company issued an update because of "robust demand."

This is more than good news if you own stock. It points to many trends cruise fans should expect in the coming year and beyond.

The best wave season ever

Royal Caribbean isn't just seeing high demand, it's experiencing the hottest start to the year in its history.

Wave season is the industry term for the time of year between January and March where cruise bookings are usually the highest of the year. The name refers to the fact it acts as a wave to carry business through the rest of the year, similar to how an ocean wave carries water far out to shore.

In a filing on Friday, the company said the first 5 weeks of the year have had the best wave booking weeks in the company's history.

Ships docked at CocoCay

In short, new reservations for the third and fourth quarters are better than the first two quarters by half.  More bookings in 2024 have been made for the year in quantity and pace. On top of that, more passengers are buying extras for their cruise at higher prices.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty explained, "Since our last earnings call, robust demand for our vacation experiences has significantly exceeded our initial expectations."

When a company files anything with Wall Street, it's important.  For them to adjust forecasts of how much money they expect to make, it shows a significant rise in their business, especially just a few weeks since the forecasts were given.

Don't expect cruise fare cuts

Spacious Infinite Central Park Balcony Cabin on Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Group telling investors it will make even more money than it first advised should be a sign to anyone that going to book a cruise this year there's plenty of other people competing for those cabins.

If you found cruise prices high in 2023 and were hoping for a reversal in price trends, it seems more unlikely now.

Mr. Liberty told investors on February 1st, there are half as many staterooms left in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same time period in 2023.

Royal Promenade

When you combine sky-rocketing demand at higher prices, there's little impetus to drop cruise fares much.

Cruise fare pricing depends on many factors, not just booking trends. However, it's likely those tailwinds wont compel price cuts like the industry saw in 2020.

Updates and new ships are back

It's not all bad news for consumers, because Royal Caribbean doing better financially has an ancillary benefit.

With Royal Caribbean Group expecting more cash, it means they have more financial flexibility. More cash means money to pay off the massive debt all cruise line accrued during the shutdown of 2020. But it also means they can afford to do more too.

One of the first things Royal Caribbean Group did when things went bad in 2020 was to cut capital spending, which is what the company calls big projects. This includes new cruise ships, refurbishments, and private island development.

Hideaway Beach

As Royal Caribbean Group's financials improved over the last two years, it has started to spend more.  It re-committed to a beach club in Nassau, and built and opened an adults-only expansion at CocoCay.

The best sign that Royal Caribbean Group is ready to spend big again is the fact it placed an order for a new Oasis Class cruise ship. Considering cruise ships cost easily a billion dollars, it's unlikely they would voluntarily take on new debt if they didn't think they could pay it all off.

Allure of the Seas proposed drydock work

Moreover, executives let slip they would amplify Allure of the Seas in 2025. Allure had upgrades planned for 2020, but it was cancelled (along with Explorer of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, and Adventure of the Seas). 

These are all signs that Royal Caribbean Group seems poised to start spending on the things that cruise ship passengers love: new fun and fancy things to do. While nothing is certain, the fact they've started spending on big ticket items that were fiscally impossible just a couple years ago, says a lot.

Book now before prices go higher

wonder of the seas

If your goal is to go on a cruise this year or in 2025 or 2026, you'll want to act quickly.

Given the trend of prices going up, booking a cruise early remains your best strategy, as opposed to waiting for last-minute deals.

Traditionally, sales on a last-minute cruise were a strategy cruise lines used to fill up ships to avoid having unsold cabins. 

Read more: I paid $99 per person for a Royal Caribbean cruise. Here's what this cruise is like

Panoramic ocean window cabin

Just like the reality of price drops being less likely, I think last-minute sales are equally improbable.

Booking a cruise more than a year in advance has always been a tried-and-true booking strategy, especially for new ships when they first become available to book.

As it gets closer to the sail date, more people book cruises and that means less cabins left to book and that tends to drive up prices.

While a last-minute deal isn't impossible, given the current booking environment, I recommend booking a cruise early rather than betting on a good price in the final weeks before the cruise begins.

Royal Caribbean News Round-Up February 25, 2024

In:
25 Feb 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

Happy Sunday, and I hope you had a great week. It was a busy week of Royal Caribbean fun, and I have a round-up of all of it in this hand-dandy blog post.

It looks like there will be two Royal Caribbean ships based on the West Coast soon.

Quantum of the Seas rumor

If rumors are correct, Royal Caribbean is poised to deploy a second cruise ship from Los Angeles, joining Navigator of the Seas, which started sailing from L.A. in 2022.

Cruise schedules for the second half of 2025 show that this ship could be Quantum of the Seas. 

While Royal Caribbean has been absent from the California market for the past ten years, this move shows a renewed commitment to the area.

Royal Caribbean News:

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Allure of the Seas

We've just released the 526th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast. In it, Matt reviews a weekend cruise on Oasis-Class Allure of the Seas.

You can subscribe to the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast via iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or RSS.

New RCB Video: What you'll want to know about getting free cruises in the casino

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 — What you'll want to know about getting free cruises in the casino — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Sushi to-go on Icon of the Seas makes it easier than ever to snack beyond the usual

Izumi sushi from window on Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas has more ways to snack than ever before.

Izumi is Royal Caribbean's designated Japanese cuisine, and with its location in Central Park, the venue is more popular than ever.

Now, Icon of the Seas features a walk-up sushi window in Izumi. 

You can grab a sashimi or nigiri roll, with edamame or seaweed salad, and take the portable container anywhere on the ship!

The worst months to cruise the Caribbean

hurricane-winds-hurricane-season

Warm weather year-round is what makes the Caribbean the most popular cruising destination. Cruisers love visiting those sunny beaches at all times of the year.

But how can you avoid cancellations, those bad rains, and dangerous hurricanes?

Keep track of the worst months to cruise, and plan your sailing accordingly.

Icon of the Seas sought to make boarding day experience less lousy and feel more like vacation

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

We've all been there before: it's embarkation day, and everyone is racing to get onboard and explore as soon as possible. 

There are many tasks we can give ourselves in the first hours onboard a ship, from booking WiFi to reserving specialty dining.

To make the first day more like a vacation, Royal Caribbean sought to resolve this problem and make day 1 easy.

They've done this by eliminating lines and increasing the amount of preparation you can do before even getting onboard.

15 things cruise lines really do not want you to bring on ships

Iron on a cruise ship cabin

Packing the wrong item in your cruise luggage could lead to the delay or even cancellation of your beloved vacation.

You never want to bring a banned item onboard, so it's important to plan ahead and know what's restricted.

To keep your boarding day running smoothly, check out the top 15 things cruise lines do not want you to bring onboard. 

From irons to camouflage clothing, here's what you need to know.

Photos show why taking an Alaska cruise is worth it

In:
24 Feb 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

A Royal Caribbean cruise provides an opportunity to see some of the most stunning natural landscapes still on Earth.

Alaska cruise photos

Alaskan itineraries will take you to glaciers and into fjords, and give you the opportunity to learn about diverse history and culture. 

From majestic scenery to exotic wildlife to delicious seafood, there’s so much to enjoy on a cruise to this rugged state.

However, planning a vacation can still intimidate the new cruiser. 

Alaska glacier walk

Are you still balking at the cost and magnitude of an Alaska cruise?

To show why cruisers love these itineraries so much, we asked readers on our Royal Caribbean Blog Facebook page to share the best Alaska cruise photos.

After sifting through hundreds of submissions, we’ve gathered 13 photos that show why taking an Alaska cruise is worth it.

Read more: Royal Caribbean Alaska cruise guide 

Bryan Lamb’s submission shows Mendenhall Glacier, in Juneau, Alaska. 

Almost all Alaska cruises will include a stop at the state’s capital city, Juneau.

Home to only 32,000 people, this small city is a great place to stop and explore.

One of its most popular attractions is the Mendenhall Glacier. It can be accessed via helicopter, boat, or car, and is only 20 minutes from downtown Juneau.

A shuttle bus is even located directly outside the pier where the ship docks in Juneau.

Mendenhall is a 13-mile-long receding glacier, one of the closest to an Alaskan port.

The recreation area offers five walks and hikes to choose from and an informative visitor’s center.

You can even take the 1.5-mile trail to Nugget Falls, a 377-foot waterfall. 

No matter which path you take, you’ll see stunning views of eagles in the trees, huge mountain peaks, or glacier calving across the lake.

Steve Cohen shared this photo of a cruise ship sailing by a snowy mountain.

One major benefit to choosing an Alaskan cruise is the stunning landscape and scenery that will surround your cruise ship.

Unlike a stay on land, on a cruise, you’ll be directly transported to and through these incredible sights, without even needing to lift a finger.

Lush forests, bubbling waters, and soaring mountains will all be visible right from the decks of the ship!

Alaska’s natural beauty suspends travelers in awe, as these photos show.

Imagine sailing through these massive mountains while having access to all the accommodation, dining, activities, and entertainment onboard a cruise ship. 

Your route is pre-planned for you, making a cruise to Alaska a convenient, streamlined way to visit. 

Allison Schwarz’s photo, captioned “along the Klondike Highway,” is a gorgeous example of the landscapes you’ll see on an Alaskan cruise.

Looking at this picture, you can practically feel the fresh air and smell those sweet flowers.

Looking for somewhere to escape those hot summer months?

During the summer, you may struggle to find a vacation that suits you. Your home is hot and humid, and you’re spending more and more money on A.C. every day.

The Caribbean begins a humid, dangerous hurricane season in June. 

To solve your problems, a cruise to Alaska provides the perfect opportunity to visit a cooler place.

Alaskan cruise season usually runs from April to October, with July and August being the most popular times. You do have a shorter sailing window when it comes to avoiding the extreme winter weather, so take advantage of a cruise to Alaska this summer.

Read more: Royal Caribbean releases new 2025 Alaska cruises to book 

Renee Gibbons shared this photo from Ovation of the Seas in June 2022.

Royal Caribbean currently sends Ovation of the Seas on Alaska cruises. This Quantum Class ship provides a lot of facilities to enjoy, whether indoors or outdoors.

No matter the weather, you’ll find something to love.

The state-of-the-art ship has indoor pools, the SeaPlex, an indoor skydiving simulator, and countless other activities.

Whether you’d like to lounge by the pool and watch glaciers go by, or try some fine dining, there’s a lot to enjoy on a Quantum Class ship.

Read more: I cruised on the oldest and newest cruise ships to Alaska: here’s how they compare

Lisa Wolfe’s son plays with sled dog puppies in Skagway, Alaska. 

“Highlight of my son’s trip. It still makes me smile,” she commented.

You can expect unique, memorable shore excursions on your Alaska cruise.

Whether you love the outdoors, want an exhilarating adventure, or love learning about other cultures, there’s something special for everyone.

Skagway is located north in Alaska’s Inside Passage and is packed full of tours involving Alaska’s gold rush history.

The sled dog camp tours are one such popular excursion. There, guests can experience the state sport of dog sled racing firsthand, and meet sled dog puppies.

You’ll be pulled by a team of 14-16 huskies, all led by a competent team of mushers. 

And afterward, you get to meet these charming puppies!

This cozy submission was shared by Marilyn Wescott

While the sight of campfires, snow, and mountains may not come to mind when you think of a cruise, you can find that and more in Alaska.

Beaches, snorkeling, and pools are almost synonymous with cruising. But what if the heat and sand don’t appeal to you, or you’re just sick of humid beaches?

Alaska is the perfect refreshing destination for hikers, nature lovers, or long-time cruisers looking for something new.

You’ll be able to find unique excursions, such as ziplining, train rides, rafting tours, glacier viewings, historic museums, and wildlife sanctuaries.

Read more: I tried the cheapest Alaska cruise I could find: here's how it went

And it doesn’t all have to be expensive! We’ve written a guide to cheap and free things to do on an Alaskan cruise.

“Leaving Icy Strait [in] July 2023,” Angie Foil Haeny commented. “We are ready to go again!”

Icy Strait Point is a smaller cruise stop that offers an intimate chance to study nature and history near Hoonah, Alaska.

The town has been founded, owned, and operated by the Huna Tlingit Native Alaskans since 2004. 

Popular outdoor attractions include whale-watching and ziplining.

You can also learn more about the culture and history of the Huna Tlingit people by visiting the Native Heritage Center Theater and viewing songs, plays, and dances.

Read more: Alaska cruise ports guide

Joan Firchow Peet’s submission shows a big chunk of ice calving off Hubbard Glacier.

Your Alaska itinerary will include at least one opportunity to see a majestic floating glacier.

One of the most popular glaciers to visit is Hubbard Glacier, a 400-foot tall and 6 miles-wide tidewater glacier.

It has been nicknamed the “Galloping Glacier” due to how swiftly and frequently it calves ice. In fact, the glacier is quickly advancing at 80 feet per year!

You can see this glacier on a cruise by first sailing into Yakutat Bay.

Read more: Hubbard Glacier vs. Glacier Bay: which glacier is better to see on a cruise?

Carlos Varela’s photo of a brown bear in the snow sparks a little jealousy. What a cool snapshot to share with friends and family!

Have you ever seen a brown bear? What about a humpback whale, a sea otter, a bald eagle, a mountain goat, or a harbor seal?

Yes, Alaska is home to these unique animals and more.

Cruise ships offer access to wildlife excursions like whale-watching or bear-spotting tours, so you’re guaranteed a chance to get up close and see these creatures with your own eyes.

Alaska’s diverse ecosystems provide a view into the untouched parts of nature.

Andrea Hancock shared this photo of kids looking out over a balcony at a marvelous view.

To get this perspective outside your bedroom window, you’d want to book a balcony stateroom on your Alaska cruise.

But it’s not a requirement!

The best type of cabin for your cruise depends on what your travel preferences and needs are.

If you’re a budgeter looking forward to spending time out on the ship or on land, an interior cabin is a cheap, efficient option.

Traveling with family and kids who want their privacy? You can book two connecting rooms for extra living space.

For luxury, try a suite stateroom such as a Loft Suite.

Joelle Hotte captioned this picture: “Mom and baby at the end of an incredible whale-watching tour in Juneau.”

Whale-watching is just one of many incredible tours you’ll have the opportunity to take on your Alaskan cruise.

This picture makes us want to hop straight on a ship to Alaska! 

But, before you go, there are a few things you’ll want to prepare for.

For example, shore excursions like these can get expensive, adding it when it comes to creating a marvelous vacation.

To save money, look for last-minute cruise deals in the shoulder season, starting in March or April.

You’ll find lower fares on the Radiance Class ships that sail to Alaska: Radiance of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas.

Christina Topp’s family is all bundled up with smiling faces. 

Wondering what you should pack on an Alaska cruise? It’s not as difficult as it might seem.

We recommend packing lots of layers. Start with base layers, such as T-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, and leggings. 

Next, make sure you have some warm layers: pullovers, sweaters, fleece jackets, and crewnecks. Anything with down or fleece in it is likely to keep you toasty!

Make sure you also have something with a waterproof layer, like a rain jacket.

For bottoms, bring thick jeans and fleece leggings.

Read more: I’ve been on 5 Alaska cruises, and I see people making the same 12 mistakes: here’s how to avoid them

Ruth Madewell submitted a photo of the White Pass and Yukon Railroad Train, a popular attraction in Skagway, Alaska.

If you’re passionate about history or just want to learn more about Alaska's vibrant heritage, then there’s plenty for you to explore on an Alaskan cruise.

You can wander charming coastal towns, visit indigenous communities, or witness historic sites like in Skagway.

Booking a train ride on the White Pass Railroad offers a scenic route towards Canada’s Yukon territory. On your journey, a guide will offer nuggets of information about frontier Alaska, Skagway’s gold rush history, and modern insight into the town today.

Icon of the Seas sought to make boarding day experience less lousy and feel more like vacation

In:
23 Feb 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Arguably the most stressful day of any cruise is the first day when you're trying to get onboard and get so many things done.

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

Royal Caribbean wants its vacations to be as relaxing and enjoyable as possible, but the reality is the embarkation experience for the first few hours is less than ideal as many passengers use this time to essentially run errands onboard to set themselves up for the rest of the cruise.

Is it a necessary evil or something that could be improved? Royal Caribbean thinks its newest cruise ship can remedy the situation.

Icon of the Seas was designed to be a ship that can take a leap forward in nearly every aspect of the cruise experience. It has new neighborhoods, easier means to get between decks, integration of technology, and lots of new ways to think about traditional experiences onboard.

Icon of the Seas aft

Before Icon of the Seas entered service, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider, talked about how Icon would re-think boarding day so that it would be less stressful and easier overall. 

The goal is simple: reduce or eliminated crowds and friction for guests.

"Make it easier"

Two decks on the Royal Promenade

Speaking at Royal Caribbean headquarters in Miami at a meeting in October 2023, Mr. Schneider identified one of the goals of the Royal Promenade on Icon of the Seas was to make the first day of a cruise just as fun as day two through seven.

Up until Icon, the Royal Promenade served as a place for guests to deal with issues that Mr. Schneider referred to as, "transactional" because they were things guests wanted to solve. Issues such as someone forgetting to buy something, set up their internet access, or a question for Guest Services.

"We spent a lot of time researching with guests what their day one experience is," Mr. Schneider explained.

"And what we've learned in that journey is that there is a lot of heavy lifting that the Royal Promenade today takes, that we wish it didn't."

Royal Promenade on Symphony of the Seas

Specifically, Royal Caribbean's feedback from their research was passengers wanted a simpler first day, "The feedback from guests as we did the research to prep for boarding day was that make it easier and easier for me not to have to go to the the booths that you create on only day one that don't exist on day two."

Essentially, the first day had so much going on that it didn't feel like a vacation until day two. Royal Caribbean wants its customers to feel like they are on vacation and enjoying it all from the moment they step onboard.

"They want to start their vacation. They don't want to go find a Voom desk," Mr. Schneider pointed out.

Voom desk

The solution is to allow guests to do more pre-cruise so there's less to do once they board, "The more services that our guests say they naturally would prefer to do pre arrival than do on day one, that we can remove off the Promenade automatically helps."

For about a year, Royal Caribbean had teams looking at how they could leverage technology to remove the first day hassle and make it feel more like day two through six.

Is boarding day better on Icon?

With those goals in place, here's how Royal Caribbean implemented fixes for the issues their research identified.

Easier way to connect to the internet

App

Buying an internet package is becoming more popular on Royal Caribbean ships, especially with the advent of Starlink internet that brings true high-speed internet to its ships.

Some guests struggle with how exactly to access the internet due to a cumbersome process of first creating an account and then logging in.

The Royal Caribbean app on Icon of the Seas features better app internet connectivity. Specifically, if you have purchased the internet package and you have the Royal Caribbean app installed and set up, there's no more captive portal. You instantaneously are connected to Wi-Fi and you don't have to do anything.

While the traditional way of creating an account still exists, I did notice a few times when I returned to the ship after being on shore, the Royal Caribbean app would open immediately to a screen alerting me that I was connected, with the option of purchasing additional device plans.

Guest services chat

Icon-Chat-2

Royal Caribbean is using AI to make it less likely that you'll need to wait in line at Guest Services.

Within the Royal Caribbean app is a chat feature that can help answer issues guests may have. The chat feature interacts with an AI bot, who could help reduce the lengthy Guest Services line. 

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

The way it works is you can ask the bot simple questions. You can can ask an AI bot certain questions like "What can my SeaPass do?" and "How do I access Wi-Fi?"

Icon of the Seas lit up

It will also tell you how much the drink package costs, as well as help you add a registered user to your account and opt out of gratuities.

If it can't answer it for you, then it will connect you with an actual agent.

"Being able to text someone from your pool deck chair or your swim-up bar seat is where we'd much rather you be [on vacation]," said Schneider. 

According to Schneider, the new chat system "works beautifully." 

Pre-book restaurants with a dining package

icon-izumi-6

The one improvement I cannot wait for Royal Caribbean to implement is the new option to pre-book restaurants if you have a dining package.

Traditionally if you bought a dining package, you'd have to wait until you got onboard the cruise ship to make an actual reservation. 

Mr. Schneider pointed out the issue of how this makes the first day less enjoyable, "If you book a dine package with us, you can't actually reserve those restaurants ahead of time. So you have to run around on day one of your vacation to figure it out."

Royal Promenade on Icon of the Seas

The plan is for all dining packages to be reservable so that guests don't have to do go make reservations on the first day. Essentially, it creates the same experience for people with a dining package and those that pre-book a specific specialty restaurant.

This upgrade is not available yet on any ship, but Royal Caribbean says it's a top priority and they hope, "to get it into market as soon as possible, but we don't have a date yet."

Once implemented, expect it on the Icon Class ships and Utopia of the Seas first, with the rest of the fleet getting it later.

Shore excursion desk

Behind the pearl

How you book and manage a shore excursion on Icon of the Seas is also different.

Instead of dedicating space to kiosks to book a shore excursion, Icon has removed that.  Mr. Schneider pointed out these spaces, like the one on Freedom of the Seas, are largely empty most of the time because guests are pre-booking tours before the cruise or on the Royal Caribbean app.

"If you think of the evolution of spaces, spaces that were really important 15 years ago are no longer important today. And so the notion of transactional kiosks, when everybody books their shore excursion on their phone or pre-arrival, isn't needed."

However, Royal Caribbean didn't get rid of the shore excursion team all together. 

Behind the Pearl on the Royal Promenade is a service lounge experience, where you can go to talk to someone about an excursion. It's run similar to stores on land where you are seated and a customer service agent comes up to you to address your concern or need.

When you walk up, you're entered into their system for the first available crew member to assist you. Your name is even listed on a screen to show where you are in the queue. There's no physical line, so you can sit down and relax until it's your turn.

Shore excursion area on Icon

On my cruise, there was no one else there so I did not need to wait at all, but not having a formal queue seems like it would be easier, especially for families.  

Order photos from the app

New photo option in Royal Caribbean app

A favorite tradition on any cruise is getting your photos taken. While the memories captured through these photos are a fun, going to the photo gallery to order prints was not.

Royal Caribbean recently implemented new functionality within the Royal Caribbean app to be able to review photos you've taken and order them, all within the app.

Just like the shore excursions, there's no digital kiosks on Icon to preview photos. Next to the shore excursion desk is the photo gallery desk to assist with concerns you might have.

4 things I loved and 4 things I hated about Allure of the Seas

In:
23 Feb 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

It's eye-opening to think Allure of the Seas is almost 15 years old now, but she still delivers great cruises. Like any ship, there are a few things I liked and didn't like about it.

Built in 2010, Allure of the Seas stands apart from the other Oasis Class ships in that it never got the upgrades and new features that other ships received due to the global industry shutdown in 2020.

There are talks that the cruise line plans to schedule amplification for early 2025, but as of now, Allure of the Seas is the only Oasis Class ship with its original design.

Because of this, some people have called her the worst of the large Oasis Class ships. Other cruisers really love the untouched aspect of the ship.

No matter which side of the argument you prefer, there’s still a lot to love.

Allure of the Seas offers a destination onboard the ship, with boundless entertainment, world-class cuisine, and adrenaline-filled activities like surfing, ziplining, and ice skating.

As a cruise enthusiast—and a big fan of the Oasis Class—I looked forward to experiencing a 3-night cruise on Allure of the Seas.

I loved my cruise for the most part, and after disembarking, I would definitely call Allure one of my favorite cruise ships.

However, like any experience, there were both highs and lows.

Let’s delve into the four things that I enjoyed and the four aspects that left me wanting more.

I loved how many friendly people I met

allure-nightclub

There’s something magical about Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships.

Every time I’m on one, I seem to meet a selection of the most fun, welcoming people possible.

Surprisingly, I make actual friendships when I have conversations with people on these ships.

I’m not sure if it’s the size, the newness of the cruise ship, or the relatively expensive price that makes people open up more, but it always seems to happen when I get on an Oasis Class ship.

I love chatting with others in the elevators or having conversations with crew members at the bar.

I have a theory that larger ships make for even friendlier crew members. I spoke to one bartender who shared that a bigger ship makes it harder for crew members to stay around and connect with one another, so it makes sense that they would make conversation with the guests instead.

I hated that there were no plug-ins by the beds 

It’s typical on Royal Caribbean ships, but I’d hoped that Allure would be different, especially since I stayed in a Grand Suite.

However, there were no plug-ins by the beds, only at the desk and beside the couch.

This forced me to leave my phone and other devices across the room to change.

Especially when you’re going to bed, it’s definitely an inconvenience.

And if you’re traveling with a large group—or bringing a lot of devices—you might find yourself fighting over charging space.

I loved the innovative neighborhoods, especially Central Park

Allure of the Seas is home to 7 innovative neighborhoods: the Boardwalk, the Pool and Sports Zone, the Royal Promenade, Entertainment Place, the Youth Zone, Vitality Spa and Fitness, and Central Park.

I love that each neighborhood has a distinct theme, with its own ambiance. 

This also makes it less likely for you to get lost on such a large ship: you can easily remember which activity might occur where.

The neighborhoods provide an immersive, exciting environment, and my favorite of all is Central Park.

Modeled after the well-known location in New York City, with lush greenery and a serene atmosphere, this is my favorite place to get away for a quiet moment or to peacefully enjoy live music.

At night, jazz bands and singers come and play here, while stars light the sky above you.

During the day, it really feels like you are inside a natural park—they even pipe in bird sounds through speakers around you!

I hated the lukewarm hot tubs

hot-tub-freedom-solarium

On previous cruises, I have loved spending time in the hot tubs. When we finish dinner and other evening entertainment, I usually race to grab my swimsuit and hop into one of the hot tubs still open.

I love ordering a drink and soaking in the hot tubs late into the night, preparing myself for a relaxing evening. 

Usually, Royal Caribbean’s hot tubs run very warm. On Freedom of the Seas, for example, I could barely sit in one for more than 20 minutes—it was so hot I had to take frequent breaks!

But Allure’s hot tubs felt lukewarm, almost cold. I consulted with other cruisers while we sat in there, and they agreed that the hot tubs were unusually chilly.

We even asked a crew member if the temperature could be adjusted, but he told us it wasn’t able to be changed.

It was a shame that the hot tubs were so chilly, especially when I wanted to lounge there late at night. 

I loved all the seating and bars by the pool area and Solarium

After sailing on the Oasis-class Wonder of the Seas, I expected that I might have to scramble for seating on Allure of the Seas.

But this wasn’t the case!

Especially when it came to the pool area, I could always find somewhere to relax: whether at the pool, sitting by the bar, or inside the adults-only Solarium.

Pool deck

I felt like Allure had enough bars and pools on the deck for everyone to have a spot.

Maybe my cruise on Wonder was more crowded, or Allure is less popular.

Either way, I enjoyed not having to fight to find a seat.

Read more: I tried some of the best strategies to beat the chair hogs on my cruise. Here's how it went

I hated all the crowds, especially on the Boardwalk and Royal Promenade

Royal Promenade on Allure of the Seas

It makes sense that such a large ship would attract a considerable amount of passengers.

However, I really disliked the flow of crowds in long spaces like the Boardwalk and the Royal Promenade. Especially during peak times, the two areas serve as funnels to cram everyone together. 

I think that the design of having shops, events, and venues branching off these hallway shapes creates even more crowds.

Whenever I had to get through the Boardwalk and Royal Promenade, I had to prepare myself to weave around an overwhelming amount of people.

This also held up for lines at the Windjammer, and—of course—crowds around the elevators.

I hate standing shoulder-to-shoulder with large groups of strangers, so this was a major disadvantage for me.

I loved the fast and friendly service at the bars onboard

Allure of the Seas had some of my favorite bars and drinks I’ve experienced on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Despite the large crowds of people, the service was very quick, and the drinks tasted amazing!

I’m used to the drinks on cruise ships being poured very lightly, tasting just a smidge watered-down. But this wasn’t the case on Allure.

The drinks tasted just right.

In addition, so many of the bartenders were happy to make conversation with me or recommend drinks I might enjoy. They helped me have an awesome experience.

I hated the tasteless food in the Windjammer

allure-windjammer

I cannot explain why, but Allure’s was one of the worst Windjammers I’ve experienced.

While I usually love most of the food served at this complimentary buffet, the options on Allure of the Seas fell flat.

For example, my sister and I are huge fans of the beef stew found in the Windjammer. But when we tried it on our Allure of the Seas cruise, it was more chewy and tasteless than usual. Maybe we just had bad luck on this sailing.

Overall, the food tasted less seasoned and ran more cold than other cruises I’d been on. 

Even the hashbrowns I usually enjoy for breakfast were cold and too crunchy.

The only foods I still enjoyed were the more ethnic food, like the Indian options. Most of those were still flavorful and amazing.

15 things cruise lines really do not want you to bring on ships

In:
22 Feb 2024
By: 
Calista Kiper

In the excitement of planning for a cruise, there’s one important aspect you don’t want to mess up: packing.

Of course, you want to be sure to pack all the items you might need on your vacation.

But to prevent any mishaps, you’ll also want to look into the items that cruise lines prohibit you from bringing.

Each cruise line has its own set of rules, and if you end up packing a banned item, you could delay or even cancel your own vacation.

If you fail to follow cruise line guidelines, for example, you could delay the crew and your bags as they search your belongings.

Beyond the obvious—such as weapons and drugs—there are other items you should be mindful of before you head to the cruise port.

Even seemingly innocent items like extension cords could be banned onboard. 

Read on to discover the 15 items cruise lines really do not want you to bring onto the cruise ship.

1. Paint

Paint presents a risk to fire safety onboard. Royal Caribbean prohibits all dangerous chemicals, such as bleach or paint.

If it spills anywhere, the paint could cause damage to the ship. Cruise lines do not want you to make any permanent changes to the cabin door or stateroom’s appearance.

2. Your pet 

icon-rover

Icon of the Seas is welcoming guests with a family dog onboard, but this does not include your family dog!

Pets are not allowed onboard, with the exception of trained and pre-approved service animals.

No exceptions will be made, even for emotional support animals

Smuggling your furry friend onboard is also a bad idea. Recently, a cat smuggled onto Ovation of the Seas was discovered and almost euthanized, if it wasn’t for a crew member from Guest Services adopting it.

3. Weed

Marijuana

It might be legal in your home state, but marijuana is still prohibited on cruise ships. This includes weed in any form, even CBD products or oils.

Even if you use it medicinally, many countries that you will visit have laws against the consumption of marijuana.

Because cruise ships sail between many different countries, they have to comply with the laws of each one.

No illegal drugs or substances are allowed to be brought onboard, and the consequences for bringing marijuana on a cruise are not worth the risk.

You could be kicked off the cruise ship, banned from the cruise line, or even incarcerated on land.

4. Fireworks

If your cruise falls during the 4th of July, it’s natural to want to celebrate.

Royal Caribbean sets up plenty of decorations and events for the patriotic holiday, but there will be no fireworks onboard.

Any explosive or flammable items are prohibited onboard a cruise ship.

For everyone’s safety, leave the pyrotechnics at home.

Quantum Class ships, however, do have a virtual fireworks display in Two70.

5. Weapons

Be very cautious when it comes to bringing anything resembling a weapon.

Leave the guns, knives, nunchucks, crossbows, throwing stars, swords, brass knuckles, ammunition, and even toys like Nerf guns at home.

Cruise lines really do not want you to bring weapons onboard. Leave them behind, and enjoy a peaceful vacation instead.

Read more: 15 things you don't need to bring on a cruise

6. Extension cords

Cruise line staterooms are infamous for lacking outlets, especially near the beds.

Yes, you’ll want to problem-solve, but be careful what you pack!

Extension cords with a surge protector are not permitted on cruise ships, due to the risk of fire.

Typically, if you bring an item with a surge protector, the cruise line will confiscate it and return it to you at the end of the cruise.

Instead, bring a cruise-friendly power strip without a surge protector.

7. Pepper spray 

Self-defense items such as pepper spray and night sticks are not allowed on cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean makes an effort to prevent cruisers from packing anything resembling a weapon.

However, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about when it comes to personal safety.

Cruising is one of the safest forms of travel, with plenty of crew members and security onboard who want to make sure you feel secure.

As a matter of fact, you’re more likely to be injured on your way to the port than on your cruise ship.

In a worst-case scenario, the worst you’ll experience is probably some seasickness or contracting the flu. 

Pepper spray won’t do anything against errant waves anyway.

8. Irons

Iron on a cruise ship cabin

For fire safety, cruise lines are very strict about any items that produce a flame or generate heat.

This includes heating pads, clothing irons, electric kettles, coffee makers, and toaster ovens/microwaves. 

It’s very unlikely that you will need any of these items. For example, you can pack wrinkle-release spray or pay staff to iron clothes for you.

When it comes to heating appliances, Royal Caribbean does make an exception for grooming products such as hair straighteners.

9. Sunscreen 

sunscreen-stock

While sunscreen is permitted onboard cruise ships, double-check before you pack whatever’s in your medicine cabinet.

Yes, of course, you want to be protected from the bright sun! 

However, many ports of call, including Cozumel, Mexico, and St. Thomas, are prohibiting sunscreen to protect their reefs and marine life.

Some locations only allow reef-friendly, biodegradable sunscreen, while others prohibit it completely.

Make sure to do your research before you pack any sunscreen.

10. Rollerblades

Wheeled items such as rollerblades, roller skates, skateboards, and Heely’s are prohibited onboard cruise ships.

This is for guest safety since cruise ships can rock and shift with the movement of the ocean and wind.

Additionally, passageways should be kept open and safe for all cruisers. No one wants to have a bad fall or crash in the middle of their vacation!

11. Knives

While some cruise lines do allow small pocket knives, Royal Caribbean is not one of them. They are very strict when it comes to anything that could be used as a weapon.

All knives are prohibited, and so are large scissors.

The only exception would be personal grooming objects and scissors with a blade smaller than 4 inches.

Read more: Things that can get you kicked off a cruise ship in an instant

12. Drones

Royal Caribbean is actually one of the few cruise lines that allows you to bring a drone onboard.

However, while onboard the ship, you must store the drone safely in the stateroom. If you do use the drone while onboard, Royal Caribbean will confiscate it until the end of the cruise.

Cruisers can only use drones on land and are responsible for obtaining the proper permits with local authorities.

Additionally, you are not allowed to use drones on Royal Caribbean’s private destinations such as Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee, Haiti.

13. Alcohol

English beers

You are prohibited from bringing alcohol such as beer or liquor onboard. 

Security will examine all liquids, and throw away any alcohol that they find. If they find any prohibited alcohol on embarkation day, it will not be returned to you!

Royal Caribbean wants you to purchase their alcohol while onboard, but this doesn't mean that you have to splurge on the drink package.

Guests can pack up to 750 mL (one unopened bottle per adult) of wine or champagne on embarkation day. You will have access to these two bottles throughout the whole cruise.

However, if you purchase any alcohol on the ship or at a port of call, security will keep it safe for you until the last day of the cruise.

Alcohol will still be available for purchase onboard, whether or not you choose to purchase the drink package.

14. Pre-cooked food

Lobster

Whether it’s home-cooked or leftover from a restaurant, cruise lines will not allow you to bring unpackaged food onboard.

If you try to bring open, pre-cooked food onboard, security will throw it away.

Additionally, you’ll have no need to pack food beforehand. Your fare will include access to many complimentary dining locations.

You can, however, pack pre-packaged snacks in your luggage.

15. Camouflage clothing

camouflage shorts

While this isn’t a cruise line regulation, knowing if your cruise travels to the Caribbean is important.

In many Caribbean countries, it is illegal to wear camouflage clothing or accessories because it is part of the military uniform.

Don’t pack any camouflage items if you’re traveling to these countries: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Although enforcement varies, you could be detained, fined, or imprisoned. Authorities will likely remove the item and you risk being sent home.

8 things Royal Caribbean didn't copy from other cruise ships on Icon of the Seas

In:
22 Feb 2024
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean incorporated many tried-and-true venues, features, and concepts from previous cruise ships, but it also dropped a few that didn't make the final cut for Icon of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas in Miami

Icon of the Seas is a blend of innovation and tradition, which means it brought some features from existing ships to this new ship. 

With Icon being a brand new class of ship, it's interesting to note what Royal Caribbean decided to copy from existing ships and which did not. Some have been things you'd find on ships for years, and others were just newer features.

After sailing on Icon of the Seas, I noticed a number of amenities that had been standard on Royal Caribbean's other newer ships were not on Icon. I find it interesting to see trends in the cruise line, and see what direction they're going. Plus, it's a sign of what we can expect with future ships or even upcoming refurbishments.

Digital key

Opening door with app

Royal Caribbean's app has gotten more features over the years, but you won't be able to open your cabin door with the app.

While the app does allow you to control the air conditioning settings and even operate the television, the option to unlock your stateroom door isn't there on Icon.

Open door with app

Spectrum of the Seas was the first Royal Caribbean ship to offer a digital key and control the stateroom television from the app. Most recently, this is a feature available on Wonder of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas.

Admittedly, I always forgot to ever use the digital key to open my door, but it was a nice option to have as a backup if you ever accidentally locked yourself out of your cabin. 

Bionic Bar

Bionic Bar on Ovation of the Seas

You won't find robot bartenders on Icon of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean had made a name for itself with the Bionic Bar ever since they were added to Quantum of the Seas in 2014.  Since then, every new ship had a Bionic Bar onboard. They were even adding it to older Oasis Class ships when they went in for refurbishment.

The Bionic Bar allowed guests to use a tablet to order drinks. They could customize the drink order to their liking, and then submit it for a pair of robot arms to create.

The robots were able to grab a cup, dispense the precise amount of liquor and mix, and then serve it on a conveyer belt back to the guest.

Alas, the Bionic Bar was left behind for Icon. Not only is there no Bionic Bar on Icon, but it's not coming to Utopia of the Seas either.

Like all technology, it ages and new fads come and go. The Bionic Bar was always intriguing to watch and try once, but its repeat value seemed to diminish quickly.

Digital Wayfinders

Another piece of tech that has seemingly reached the end of its life are digital wayfinders.

On every new and refurbished Royal Caribbean cruise ship over the last decade or more, there are large screens at every elevator lobby where guests can view activities, get directions to a particular venue, and other features. 

These interactive kiosks made it so you could walk up to one while on your way to the elevator and get where you needed to go.

Wayfinder

Wayfinders were first installed on Royal Caribbean's Oasis and Allure of the Seas ships, and were upgraded over the years as they made their way to other ships. 

You won't find wayfinders on Icon of the Seas, probably because that functionality is included in the more robust Royal Caribbean app we can all use today.  Moreover, app and smartphone use are far more ubiquitous than in past years.

Self-service convenience machines

Vending machine

When I forgot to pack shaving cream I realized Icon of the Seas did not have the vending machines that Royal Caribbean's newer ships have.

On some ships, there are self-service vending machines where you can buy toiletries, beauty products, accessories and more.  There's no fuss with them and rarely a line.

I never relied on the machines, but it was nice to have in a pinch.

Stream to your TV

TV on Icon of the Seas

Of all the things on this list, I probably missed the ability to stream from my phone to my stateroom television the most.

While the televisions in your cabin do have a number of useful features, you cannot stream via Chromecast to your television.

On an evening where you wanted to take it easy and watch a movie or binge a TV show from your room, it was nice to be able to play it on the television instead of my device.

Virtual balcony

Virtual balcony room

Another Quantum Class era innovation didn't come to Icon of the Seas with the virtual balcony cabin.

A virtual balcony cabin was meant to be an upgrade from a regular inside room (as opposed to a real balcony cabin).  Virtual balconies are 80-inch LED televisions that are in inside staterooms on select Royal Caribbean ships that provide live HD views from outside the cruise ship, right into your stateroom.

Read more: Everything you wanted to know about a virtual balcony

It's a neat idea (and something Royal Caribbean admitted they copied from Disney Cruise Line), but like the digital wayfinders, was an aging technology and guest trends had changed.

Moreover, Royal Caribbean introduced a different kind of balcony on Icon of the Seas: the infinite balcony.

Based on the infinite verandas from sister brand Celebrity Cruises, infinite balconies are a twist on the tradition balcony by having the balcony space become more useful living space when an opening to the outside isn't in use.

New restaurant concepts

Mason Jar restaurant

Any new Royal Caribbean cruise ship will have a different specialty restaurants, but I was surprised certain newer concepts didn't end up on Icon too.

Royal Caribbean works hard to innovate and push boundaries with its dining choices. If there's been one constant over the years, it's the Food & Beverage team has looked for ways to introduce new cuisines, cooking styles, and concepts to its assortment of dining choices.

Icon of the Seas Empire Supper Club

Some of these new restaurants seem to be heralded by the cruise line as a big deal, and it's not uncommon for a new restaurant to be quickly copied over to many other ships. Playmakers Sports Bar is a great example of this, and Empire Supper Club is already slated to be copied to the rest of the new Icon Class ships coming down the pike.

Portside BBQ

While Playmakers and Hooked were added to Icon, Mason Jar and Portside BBQ did not. Both of these were new restaurants that were met with much fanfare, but are not on Icon of the Seas.

Of course, Royal Caribbean managed to add a variety of new restaurants on Icon, such as Pier 7, Empire Supper Club, Surfside Bites, and more.

Read more: Icon of the Seas restaurant and dining guide

Traditional bow design

Icon of the Seas sea trials

Icon of the Seas is the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to implement a parabolic bow instead of a traditional one.

A parabolic bow is a functional design element that creates a curved indentation in the bottom of the vessel’s hull. 

This new bow design helps increase overall stability of the vessel by shifting the center of gravity forward. In addition, parabolic bows allow the ship to be less likely to capsize or heel. This is due to the bow creating an area of low pressure beneath the ship’s hull. 

Star of the Seas and Icon of the Seas

I expect the traditional bow will be a thing of the past for any new ships going forward, given the improvements in efficiencies that a parabolic bow provides.

Did I miss any features that Royal Caribbean left off Icon? Let me know in the comments!