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Bahamas cruise guide

In:
10 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

The picturesque islands of The Bahamas are among the world’s most commonly visited cruise ports. A neighbor to the United States, the proximity and beauty of The Bahamas makes the country an attractive destination for cruise ships, and you’ll find nearly every Royal Caribbean ship offering cruises to this island nation.

Whether you’re planning your first cruise or are a seasoned cruiser, there’s a pretty big chance you’ll be sailing to The Bahamas at one point or another. Knowing the ins and outs of what it’s like to cruise in The Bahamas, from understanding where you’ll visit to knowing what to pack, can help make your cruise experience the best it can be.

Let’s take an in-depth look at everything you need to know before booking a cruise to The Bahamas.

In this guide:

Why go on a Bahamas cruise

A major reason to go on a Bahamas cruise is to enjoy the country’s world-class beaches. Turquoise waters, soft sand, and amazing snorkeling are available at any cruise port in The Bahamas. Whether you choose to lounge on a beach chair, enjoy a day pass at a resort, book a catamaran tour, or snorkel at a shipwreck, you’ll find plenty of crystal-clear beaches to discover.

The proximity of The Bahamas to Florida means you can reach the islands on even the shortest of itineraries. Weekend cruises to The Bahamas are extremely popular for this reason, allowing for a quick getaway to relax and unwind.

In addition, visiting the Bahamas means tasting delicious local cuisine, such as conch fritters and rum cake, and observing local culture.

Plus, cruises to The Bahamas are offered on nearly all Royal Caribbean cruise ships and on itineraries as short as two nights to nine nights or longer! Because of this, you’ll see a huge range in cruise fares, so you’ll be able to find the perfect cruise for any budget.

Bahamas cruise ports

Perfect Day at CocoCay

Perfect Day at CocoCay is Royal Caribbean’s private island in The Bahamas, and it’s a favorite port for many cruisers. The island is packed with activities for all interests, from the tallest waterslide in North America to the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean.

Perfect Day at CocoCay has three main beaches: Chill Island, Harbor Beach, and South Beach. These beaches are free for all guests to enjoy and are lined with complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas. 

Guests looking to splurge can purchase a day pass to the Coco Beach Club, an exclusive, private beach club with an infinity pool, overwater cabanas, and an upscale Mediterranean-inspired restaurant.

A major perk of cruising to Perfect Day at CocoCay is that the island offers more than enough to do (and eat!) without spending anything extra. If you’re on a budget, Perfect Day at CocoCay makes for a cheap yet incredibly fun day in port.

Our Perfect Day at CocoCay tips:

Nassau

Nassau is one of the world’s busiest cruise ship ports. Located on New Providence Island, Nassau is the capital of The Bahamas and is known for its upscale resorts and plethora of beaches.

Most passengers visiting Nassau will opt for a beach day. There are a few beaches located within walking distance from port, the most easily accessible being Junkanoo Beach.

Many visitors to Nassau take a taxi to Paradise Island, where they’ll find the famous Atlantis Resort and pristine Cabbage Beach. Day trips to nearby islands, such as Blue Lagoon and Pearl Island, can also be great options when spending the day in Nassau.

Nassau also offers plenty of history to discover, too, with historic forts, monuments, and museums showcasing the island’s history.

Related: Best things to do in Nassau on a cruise

Grand Bahama Island (Freeport)

Grand Bahama is the most northwestern island in The Bahamas, located only 64 miles from Palm Beach, Florida. Cruises on Grand Bahama dock in the city of Freeport, the second largest city in The Bahamas with a population of around 24,000 people.

Like other Bahamas cruise ports, most passengers will spend the day on Grand Bahama Island at the beach. Beaches are located outside the port area, so an excursion or taxi ride is necessary to reach the island’s best beaches. 

Nature lovers can enjoy a tour of Lucayan National Park, where they’ll kayak through mangroves and learn about the park’s diverse ecosystem and geology. Tours of downtown Freeport are also available, which bring passengers to local markets and nearby beaches.

Other passengers may prefer to simply explore the port area, where there are plenty of food, drink, and shopping opportunities.

Bimini

Bimini is the closest island in The Bahamas to the United States, located around 50 miles from Miami, and comprises two main islands: North Bimini and South Bimini. The cruise port is on North Bimini, which is home to beaches, resorts, restaurants, and local shops in the island’s main town of Alice Town.

While Bimini is not the most common port stop on Royal Caribbean Bahamas itineraries, it offers a low-key, relaxing getaway for visitors looking to sunbathe, snorkel, or ride a golf cart around the island.

Popular shore excursions in Bimini include snorkeling at the SS. Sapona, one of the Caribbean’s most famous shipwrecks, spending the day at a beach resort, and tasting local cuisine.

Bahamas cruise itineraries

Freedom of the Seas aerial at Nassau

Shorter cruises

If you’re searching for a short getaway, you’ll find several Royal Caribbean ships offering 3 and 4-night cruises to The Bahamas. These itineraries visit both Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas, and are offered on Voyager or Freedom Class cruise ships.

These itineraries happen weekly (Monday-Friday for 4-night cruises and Friday-Monday for 3-night cruises) and are offered most commonly on Independence of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, and Liberty of the Seas.

Southeast coast cruises

You don’t have to fly to Florida in order to cruise to The Bahamas. Several Royal Caribbean ships sail from the ports of Cape Liberty and Baltimore to The Bahamas.

Most cruises departing from the northeast will stop at a few ports along the southeast coast of the United States before visiting The Bahamas, such as Charleston, South Carolina and Orlando, Florida. These itineraries tend to be 7 or 8 nights.

Related: Guide to cruises from New York

Miscellaneous itineraries

Outside of short getaways and cruises from the northeast, you’ll find a variety of other itineraries visiting The Bahamas, most commonly with a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Both Western and Eastern Caribbean cruises often include a visit to The Bahamas in combination with stops in ports like Cozumel, Roatan, San Juan, St. Maarten, and Labadee. 

Best time of year for a Bahamas cruise

Weather

While The Bahamas is a year-round cruising destination, it’s important to remember that The Bahamas is located much further north than Caribbean cruise ports like Labadee and St. Thomas. In fact, The Bahamas is not technically even located within the Caribbean! Because of this, the islands can be prone to more temperature fluctuation than more southerly islands.

That being said, you’ll more than likely encounter comfortable temperatures at any time of year on a Bahamas cruise. Drier weather can be expected between November and April, with the rainiest months between June and September.

Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, with the highest chance of storms between August and September. However, you shouldn’t necessarily avoid booking a cruise during hurricane season. Cruise ships will not sail through a hurricane. Instead, itineraries will be adjusted to avoid the storm.

Related: Cruising during hurricane season: Should you do it?

December and January can occasionally encounter colder temperatures due to the possibility of a cold front bringing choppy seas, strong winds, and temperatures in the 60s or low 70s.

While there’s no perfect time to cruise The Bahamas in terms of weather, the months of March, April, May, and November can see comfortable temperatures with less chance of rain.

Crowds

The Bahamas is a popular tourist destination at any time of the year, and you can usually expect multiple ships in port on any given day. Nassau alone can accommodate up to 7 cruise ships at one time!

The busiest times to cruise The Bahamas coincide with the school holiday calendar, so expect more crowds onboard and in port during spring break, summer, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, as well as during 3-day weekends throughout the year.

Additionally, if you’re choosing between a 3-night weekend cruise to The Bahamas and a 4-night cruise during the week, you’ll often find that the weekend cruises are much busier. Not only can there be a higher capacity onboard, but weekend cruises often have more of a party atmosphere compared to a relaxed vibe during the week.

Related: I tried my first 3-night weekend cruise, here’s how it went

Which Royal Caribbean ships sail to The Bahamas?

Due to the proximity of The Bahamas to Florida, you’ll see a large number of Royal Caribbean ships sailing to the islands year-round. In fact, you can currently book itineraries to The Bahamas on 21 Royal Caribbean ships (out of the fleet’s 26 ships!)

Therefore, when planning a Bahamas cruise, you have nearly endless possibilities when picking a cruise ship. If you are looking for the latest and greatest ship Royal Caribbean offers, you can visit The Bahamas on an Oasis or Quantum Class cruise ship. If you’d prefer a more laid-back holiday, you’ll find even the smallest Royal Caribbean cruise ships visiting The Bahamas.

Related: 8 questions to ask yourself before picking a cruise ship

Cost of a Bahamas cruise

One of the best parts of cruising to The Bahamas is that you can often find fantastic deals, especially on shorter cruises. It’s not uncommon to find 3 or 4-night Bahamas cruises for as little as $575 for 2 adults in an interior room, including all taxes and fees.

Weeklong cruises often run around $1500-1700 total for 2 adults in an interior cabin on newer Royal Caribbean ships, whereas you can sometimes find prices as low as $1000-1200 for 7-night Bahamas cruises on older ships.

Because there are so many ships sailing to The Bahamas at any given time, you might even find cheap last-minute discounts available on sailings departing in the next few days or weeks.

Outside of cruise fare, you’ll also want to budget for gratuities as well as any cruise add-ons you plan to purchase, such as shore excursions, beverage packages, and dining packages.

Cruise add-on advice:

What to pack for a Bahamas cruise

Packing for The Bahamas usually means packing lightweight, breathable clothing perfect for a warm day at the beach or sunny day onboard. A swimsuit is a must as well as sundresses, shorts, and t-shirts. It can get extremely warm in the summer months, so packing breathable, more loosely-fitting clothing is recommended.

If you’re visiting The Bahamas in the winter, it’s a good idea to pack a lightweight jacket and a pair of jeans. While you’ll most likely encounter favorable temperatures, there can be occasional cold fronts leading to temperatures around 70°F. This can feel chilly when at sea or near the beach, so packing layers can be helpful.

For a more in-depth look at what to pack (including a packing list!) read our guide on what to pack for a Bahamas cruise.

Bahamas cruise FAQ

What currency should I use in The Bahamas?

The official currency of The Bahamas is the Bahamian Dollar, and the exchange rate between USD and Bahamian Dollar is 1:1. There’s no need to take out Bahamian Dollars ahead of time, as you can make purchases in USD (although you might receive change back in Bahamian Dollars).

Do I need to purchase shore excursions on a Bahamas cruise?

Like in all other cruise ports, it’s not necessary to book a shore excursion. However, we recommend having a general plan for your day in port before getting off the ship.

Ports like Nassau and Freeport aren’t the best ports for simply walking off the ship with no plan, as it can be confusing to figure out where to go and what to do. Doing research beforehand on what activities are available in port can help you better plan your day.

There are, however, many shore excursions available in Bahamas cruise ports. These usually involve visiting a beach, resort, snorkeling, island hopping, etc. You can book shore excursions through Royal Caribbean, which tend to be more expensive yet offer more security, or through an independent provider.

Planning a cruise? Check out our best tips & tricks:

Royal Caribbean launches new video series about Icon of the Seas

In:
10 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is slowly beginning to talk about its next new cruise ship by launching a new video series.

Making an Icon

"Making an Icon" will be a new video series that Royal Caribbean will produce to provide more details and insight into Icon of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas will be the first ship in a new class of Royal Caribbean ship that the cruise line says will be, "the most transformational ship the world has ever seen."

New episodes will launch in advance of when Icon is unveiled this fall and continue leading up to the 2023 debut.

Icon of the Seas sphere installation

The teaser for this new series launched today, which hypes the coming episodes that promise a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Icon of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean describes the video series as an "inside look at Royal Caribbean International’s journey to create the world’s greatest vacation – Icon of the Seas"

"Industrial engineers, interior designers, architects, artists, innovators, teams across entertainment and food and beverage, and more take you behind the scenes to see all that goes into envisioning, designing and constructing the soon-to-be-revealed cruise ship."

"In each episode, experts from Miami, Turku, Finland; New York City, Toronto and beyond come together to create the vacation to rival all vacations."

A few familiar voices are heard in the video, including:

  • Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO
  • Harri Kulovaara, Executive Vice President, Maritime & Newbuilding
  • Jay Schneider, Chief Product Innovation Officer (CXO) at Royal Caribbean Group

Up until now, Royal Caribbean has been extremely quiet about revealing any details regarding Icon of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas 2023

We still don't have a design of the ship, or are aware of any features.

It did slip out the name of the large white ball we've seen teased as a feature of Icon will be called, "The Pearl".

Michael Bayley speaking at President's Cruise

When Mr. Bayley was asked in June 2022 about when we might get more information, he pointed to September, "We are launching Icon of the Seas starting this September."

"By launching, I mean, we are we are starting to communicate. We have a whole planning program of communication, social media, marketing, TV, radio, you name it."

Icon of the Seas is set to debut in late 2023.

Icon of the Seas by the numbers

Icon of the Seas plaque

While there is not a lot of information about Icon of the Seas, we at least know a few stats based on publicly disclosed information.

Royal Caribbean Group shared in its form 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission at the end of July that Icon of the Seas will have approximately 5,600 berths, which is the ship's capacity.

In terms of passengers, Icon would have slightly less passenger capacity than an Oasis Class ship. However, it remains to be seen if Icon will indeed be larger than the Oasis Class ships.

In March 2022, Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, Sean Treacy, indicated Icon of the Seas will be larger than the Oasis class cruise ships.

"Icon will be the biggest. It launches in the fall of next year and will be the first new ship class for Royal in a decade," Mr. Treacy said while onboard Wonder of the Seas during a trade event.

Royal Caribbean announces Covid-19 protocols for Australia cruises

In:
09 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced its health protocols for cruise ships sailing from Australia during the upcoming cruise season.

Ovation of the Seas in Sydney Harbor

These include government mandates and boarding day requirements.

Royal Caribbean warned that protocols can likely change between now and when your sailing may occur.

Health policies

Sydney opera house

All guests must review and acknowledge they have read and accepted their obligation to comply with Australian Government protocols and Royal Caribbean supplementary terms and conditions.

All guests, including Australians citizens, must ensure they meet Australia’s international border entry requirements, including vaccination status, visa, and travel exemption requirements.

Vaccine Requirements

Passport and immunization record card

Per Australian Federal and State Government guidelines for cruising, at least 95% of guests must be fully vaccinated for Covid-19.

All guests ages 12 & older will need to present proof of full vaccination approved by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration),  at the terminal in order to sail. 

Full vaccination requires that guests have all doses of their Covid-19 vaccine completed no less than 14 days prior to sailing.

Australia Vaccine Passport

Children ages 11 and under, and guests with medical exemptions, are permitted to travel however there is a limit on the number of unvaccinated guests that can travel on each cruise departure.

If you are travelling with unvaccinated children under the age of 12, or if anyone in your travel party is unvaccinated due to a medical exemption, please be sure to advise Royal Caribbean of their vaccination status by contacting your travel advisor, completing our form sent 7 days after your booking is created, or by calling your local office directly.

Testing

Radiance Class ship in Australia

Pre-Cruise

Before arriving on boarding day, it is likely that all guests travelling with us will need to receive a negative COVID-19 test on their own, at their own expense, to meet boarding requirements in line with Australian Federal and State Government guidance.

Please note: More information regarding testing requirements will be made available closer to your sailing.

Masks

At the cruise terminal, it is likely that masks will be required.

Onboard, it is likely that masks will be optional for vaccinated guests and recommended for unvaccinated children while onboard.

Some of the destinations may require masks. Guests under 2 years of age will not need to wear a mask.

Dining & Other Venues

Mariner of the Seas dining room

Tables and chairs in all the dining areas onboard are sanitized frequently.

Shore Excursions

Brisbane, Australia

Requirements for going ashore are subject to change as circumstances evolve, and we will continue to update booked guests of any requirements for their upcoming sailing via email.

Man who has cruised the most with Royal Caribbean reaches 10,000 points

In:
09 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

One person has reached the top echelon of Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program that no one has ever gotten to before him.

Super Mario hits 10,000 points

Mario ‘Super Mario’ Salcedo just reached 10,000 points in Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society this past weekend.

By hitting 10,000 points, he is the the highest-level Pinnacle member who has sailed on over 900 Royal Caribbean cruises!

Super Mario was onboard Explorer of the Seas when it happened, and Royal Caribbean celebrated his incredible milestone.

Super Mario hits 10,000 points

To mark this special occasion, Mario celebrated onboard alongside crew, ship/shoreside leadership, including

  • Sean Treacy – SVP Hotel Operations
  • Linken D’Souza – Vice President Food & Beverage
  • Raimund Gschaider – Vice President Hotel Operations
  • Ken Rush - Director Entertainment Activity Programming  
  • Ed Eiswirth – Director of Beverage Operations
  • Toni Tomlijaovic – Captain
  • Julie Young – Hotel Director
  • Elvis Pinto – Cruise Director
  • Nancy Ramos – AVP Loyalty & Onboard Marketing
  • Courtney Brant – Director Loyalty Marketing
  • Abundance Boekenstein – Senior Manager Product Development
  • Sylvia Chougle – Lead Loyalty Systems
  • Michelle Illance – Senior AE Loyalty Marketing
  • Loyalty Ambassador: Justin Alducente
  • Guest Services Manager: Federico Rodriguez
  • Activities Manager: Moe Vatuloka

To reach this milestone, he cruises about 50 weeks a year and has been doing so for decades now.

Labadee aerial

His favorite itineraries are to the Caribbean, and his favorite stop is our private destination in Labadee, Haiti

 

How Mario became Super Mario

Explorer of the Seas docked

Mr. Salcedo became Royal Caribbean's top cruiser years ago, but he only got started in 2000.

His family moved from Cuba to Miami in the early 1960s to start a new life in pursuit of freedom and opportunity.

"We are eternally grateful to this country for having welcomed us with open arms," he said about moving to the United States.

For the past two decades, Mario has been a full-time resident on Royal Caribbean, having sailed at this point on over 900 sailings.

Read moreLife at sea - An interview with Royal Caribbean's top cruiser, Super Mario

In 1997, Mr. Salcedo opened a small business managing investments for clients in 1997. That same year he took his first cruise and fell in love with the experience and began sampling different lines, regions, and itineraries.

Since then, cruising has become a way of life.

Since his first Royal Caribbean cruise in 2000, Mario has sailed exclusively on Royal Caribbean International ships around the world -- that’s 22 years and counting!

His first ship was Voyager of the Seas, which caught his attention because of how massive the ship was and that got him hooked.

"The ship took my breath away. I had never seen such a grandiose ship. It was then that I became Loyal to Royal and accelerated my cruising pace rather dramatically."

"The internet cafes onboard enabled me to run my business online and cruise at the same time. So, I decided to make a transformative lifestyle change and live onboard full-time."

How long will we cruise? As long as he can.

"With so many friends and memories made out at sea over the years, I plan to continue cruising indefinitely so long as I’m in good health and having fun."

Mario's favorite cruise memory

Mr. Salcedo shared recently the answer to what is his most memorable cruise memory.

“Without a doubt, the ‘hurricane evacuation’ cruise onboard Enchantment of the Seas in September 2017.

Hurricane Irma was headed towards South Florida packing maximum winds of 150 mph. Evacuation orders were issued, but there were no flights, car rentals, or hotel rooms. Bottled water and essential items ran out quickly and even gasoline was scarce. Miami’s residents were essentially trapped.

A famous CEO came up with the brilliant idea to offer Enchantment of the Seas to the Miami-based shoreside employees and their immediate families as a means of quick, safe, and free evacuation.

I believe the ship carried nearly 3,000 employees and families as she sailed out of Miami and out of harm's way for a 4-day cruise to nowhere. I may have been the only real guest onboard.  

That sailing gave me the unique opportunity to meet, chat, and socialize with many shoreside employees. It was a new and truly unforgettable experience.

I love the onboard crew, but this unplanned encounter with the shoreside employee population was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.”

Is there a best day to book a cruise for a cheap deal?

In:
09 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Is there such thing as a best day of the week to book a cruise?

Ovation of the Seas on a sunny day

In the world of booking airfare, there's been evidence that says certain days of the week will get you a lower price for a flight than others .

So does the same sort of logic apply that you might get a better cruise price if you book on a Tuesday instead of Saturday, or in the morning instead of after dinner?

I haven't noticed any kind trend, but I don't deal with cruise prices nearly as much as travel agents do. So to get an answer, I reached out to a few travel agents that specialize in booking cruises to get their take on if there's a better day to book a cruisr to save you money.

There is no best day to book a cruise

Cruise ship in Grand Cayman

In speaking with all the travel agents I asked for this article, none said there was any kind of trend related to day of the week being better or worse for cruise prices.

"There isn't a best day of the week to book a cruise, as prices change often," said Sharla Manglass, Travel Planner with MEI & Mouse Fan Travel.

"Some people seem to believe that waiting for Black Friday, WOW, or Kids Sail Free sales will be the best option for them."

Mindy Breitman, a Travel Advisor for Cruise Planners, points to the fact the algorithm controls the price, not the day of the week, "Weekends seem to be more people looking  and algorithms could make pricing increase on a particular sailing so I would say any weekday - and they can always be repriced."

Justin Wolfson, Independent Travel Advisor-Chubit Travel, agreed that day of the week doesn't matter, "I don’t believe there is a best day during the week to book a cruise, as many think booking airfare on Tuesday is best. "

Could there be a day of the week trend in another cruise market outside of the United States? 

Michelle Feilberg, Travel Curator for MTA Travel, didn't notice any price trends related to day of the week, "Not one specific day but what I find, here In Australia, is our busiest days for bookings are Friday through Monday."

Ms. Breitman said the only trend she saw with regard to timing was for suites.

If you're looking to scoop up a suite after someone fails to book it following a 24 hour hold, you'll want to stay up late, "I will say if someone is looking for a particular cabin to look at midnight especially for suites because any holds release at midnight."

Repricing is the real secret to a cruise deal

Each of the travel agents I spoke to for this article reiterated the importance of repricing, rather than looking for the day of the week to book.

Ms. Manglass tells all her clients to book early and reprice often, "The best advice I can give is to book when you're ready to book at the price you're willing to pay, and then if the price goes down, it's a win."

"Many cruise lines allow you to adjust your booking until final payment and beyond," Mr. Wolfson said.

Read moreDo cruise prices drop?

Odyssey of the Seas at sea

"Securing your booking on a Tuesday and the fare goes down on Wednesday it can be adjusted by your travel Advisor or cruise line if booked direct."

"I recommend securing your cruise as soon as possible to get the best overall rate."

Ms. Breitman said booking early to reprice later is her preferred strategy, "Better to lower your pricing than wish you booked it."

Trends when people want to book a cruise

Radiance pulling into Seward

One trend agents do see is when they see an uptick in new booking requests.

"Most people book in the wave season, meaning the first quarter of the year," Ms. Manglass explained.

Wave season is an industry term for the time of year when cruise lines tend to offer their best promotion. It traditionally takes place between January and March and is not just an arbitrary time of year to offer cruise deals.

"Wave season is no longer the only time we are busiest. I am typically busiest at the end of a month, or when new itineraries are released," said Ms. Manglass.

In Australia, Ms. Feilberg sees a spike in bookings tied to flash sales.

"Our flash sales are often mid-week (Tuesday- Wednesday) and our longer sales are often but not always starting Thursday-Friday."

"Our busiest days for bookings are Friday through Monday," said Ms. Feilberg.

Your cruise sail date, not date you book it

If there is one trend that holds up it's that you will find lower prices for a cruise that sails during certain times of the year.

Read moreWhen is the best time to book a cruise?

In the Caribbean, you'll find some of the lowest prices if your cruise sails these months:

  • January (minus Martin Luther King weekend or New Years)
  • First week or two of February
  • September
  • October
  • Early November (minus the weeks of Veterans Day and/or Thanksgiving)
  • First two weeks of December
Cantilevered hot tub on Freedom of the Seas

What do all these times of year have in common? School is in session and major holidays either just passed or are coming up. This means less people are able to take a cruise, and that lower demand sees lower than normal prices.

Read more8 ways to get the best cruise deals

Top 10 things to do in Ensenada, Mexico on a cruise

In:
09 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Ensenada is a cruise port on Mexico’s Baja California coast most commonly visited on 3 and 4-night cruises departing from Los Angeles on Navigator of the Seas.

Ensenada, Mexico

If you’ve cruised to ports on the Caribbean side of Mexico, you’ll undoubtedly notice a change in scenery when docking in Ensenada. Baja California has a dry, almost Mediterranean climate with a rocky and mountainous landscape.

Due to its rugged landscape and sunny, dry weather, you’ll find an abundance of outdoor adventures to enjoy in Ensenada, from wine tasting to hiking and off-roading. If culture is more your style, don’t hesitate to spend the day sampling Mexican cuisine and shopping at local markets.

Street Cafes in Ensenada, Mexico

With just one day to spend in Ensenada, you’ll want to make the most of it. Here’s our list of the top 10 things to do in this Mexican coastal city.

Wander along the Malecón and downtown streets

Ensenada

The Malecón (boardwalk) is an integral part of downtown Ensenada. This waterfront boardwalk overlooking the port is the perfect place for a relaxing stroll. Street vendors and food stalls dot the boardwalk, which congregates at Ventana al Mar, a public park home to one of the largest Mexican flags in the country.

Once in downtown Ensenada, browse storefronts, restaurants, and bars on the main tourist street of Avenida López Mateos. Souvenir shops, artisan markets, and jewelry stores can be found here, and you’ll be able to taste delicious local food as well.

Before getting back onboard, be sure to head to one of Ensenada’s food stalls for fresh churros with your choice of dulce de leche or chocolate filling.

Related: Mexican Riviera cruise guide

Wine tasting in Valle de Guadalupe

Wine Country, Baja, Ensenada, Mexico

The Valle de Guadalupe is the premiere wine region in Mexico, producing around 80% of Mexican wine. This region is around 30 miles from Ensenada’s port, making visiting the valley a popular activity to do while docked in Ensenada.

Excursions to the valley typically include tours of local wineries and a wine tasting. Some excursions may also include a three course meal at a winery overlooking scenic views of vineyards and the Mexican countryside.

Visit La Bufadora

Bufadora

La Bufadora is the second largest blowhole in the world and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Ensenada area. Visitors to La Bufadora will be impressed as the sea cave explodes water up to 100 feet in the air. Water “eruptions” occur every few seconds to every few minutes.

Because of its popularity, there are plenty of shore excursions to choose from that visit La Bufadora, both from Royal Caribbean and third party tour operators. Some excursions will combine a visit to the blowhole with other activities such as kayaking or cultural performances.

Related: 5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own

Visit a local market

If you’re interested in exploring local culture further from the port, consider a visit to Mercado Los Globos, the largest outdoor market in Ensenada. At the market you’ll find food and drink stalls, fresh produce and fruit juices, antiques, and thrift stores.

Tasting local cuisine is a must while at the market, and there are a variety of casual food stalls offering dishes like chilaquiles, stuffed chilis, seafood dishes, and gorditas. 

Related: Visiting Mercado Los Globos in Ensenada

You’re unlikely to find many other tourists at the market, offering you a glimpse of local life and culture that will be harder to encounter on Ensenada’s main tourist streets.

Walking to the market takes around 45 minutes from the port, so you may want to call an Uber or taxi there instead.

Off-roading in Ensenada’s countryside

ATV or road buggy tours are popular excursions in many cruise ports due to the adventurous nature of driving these vehicles, which can take you far away from busy tourist streets and into nature. Ensenada is no different, with plenty of ATV and road buggy tours offered throughout the surrounding area.

These tours tend to visit the Guadalupe Valley, where visitors can ride off-road through the valley’s vineyards and mountainous countryside. Due to the valley’s abundance of wineries, some tours may include a wine tasting paired with local food products.

Try ceviche at La Guerrerense

Photo creditT.Tseng (no changes made)

While walking the main street in downtown Ensenada, you’ll come across an unassuming street food stall that will very likely have a line of hungry customers.

This street food stand is La Guerrerense, a restaurant specializing in seafood tostadas that opened in 1960. The most famous item at La Guerrerense is the ceviche de erizo con almeja, a sea urchin and clam ceviche tostada.

If sea urchin ceviche sounds a little too adventurous for you, there are plenty of other menu items available, from cod fish ceviche tostadas to seafood cocktails.

If you’re a seafood lover, you’re sure to be impressed at La Guerrerense. In fact, Anthony Bourdain even proclaimed their seafood tostadas to be among the best street food in the world!

Zip Line

Adrenaline seekers are in luck in Ensenada, especially those open to flying through the air! Desert Nest Zip Line Baja is an adventure park with over two miles of high-speed zip lines.

The park’s five zip lines take thrill seekers over Baja California’s vineyards and rolling hills, offering unbeatable views of Ensenada’s surrounding scenery.

Visit the beach

While Ensenada may not be known for an abundance of local beaches, there are still several ways to enjoy a beach day while visiting this Baja California port.

The beach nearest to the port is Playa Hermosa, although it is a 45 minute walk from the cruise ship dock to the beach. Uber service is available and convenient in Ensenada, though, so traveling to the beach via car should not be a problem.

Royal Caribbean offers excursions to Rosarito Beach, which offers more of a beach town atmosphere compared to Ensenada. Rosarito is known for its party atmosphere and large beach, making it a nice option for those who don’t mind the one hour drive to town.

Horseback riding tours are available to book on La Misión Beach for those interested in exploring Baja California’s beaches in a more unique way.

Sail Ensenada’s coastline

If you’re looking for a day spent on the water, consider a yacht cruise along Ensenada Bay. The bay is home to wildlife including dolphins, sea lions, and whales, as well as picturesque rugged mountain scenery.

A yacht tour is offered by Royal Caribbean on the “Bay Cruise on a Yacht and Wine Tasting” excursion. This 2 hour 30 minute tour also includes a wine tasting with wines from the Valle de Guadalupe as well as a guide giving information on the nature and history of Ensenada’s coastline.

You may also want to consider a boat ride to Todos Santos Island, located 12 miles off the coast of Ensenada. Snorkeling tours are available on the island, where you’ll find unique rock formations and an underwater kelp forest.

Hike El Salto Canyon

El Salto Canyon, Ensenada

Located northwest of Ensenada is El Salto Natural Park, home to the El Salto Canyon, hiking trails, and a waterfall. A drastic difference from the lush jungle you’ll find in Mexico’s Caribbean cruise ports, a visit to El Salto Canyon will bring you through rocky, steep, and dry landscapes.

Royal Caribbean offers the “El Salto Canyon Hiking Tour & Craft Beer” excursion, which first takes guests on a guided hike of the canyon, where they’ll traverse Baja California’s hills. The hike ends at an ocean-front brewery, where cold beers and snacks will be well-appreciated after a day in the mountains.

When is the best time to book a cruise?

In:
08 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Planning a cruise vacation starts with choosing a cruise ship, itinerary, stateroom category, and time of year to sail, but when is the best time to book a cruise?

Mariner of the Seas back of the ship

With so many promotions and deals available throughout the year, you may be wondering if it’s better to book a cruise now or wait until a new discount is announced. 

Spoiler alert: the best time to book a cruise is today

top deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

99% of the time, the best time to book a cruise is today. Waiting for a promotion or specific time of year to book your upcoming cruise has few advantages over booking the cruise as soon as possible.

Cruise fares tend to be cheapest the further in advance you book, and despite a few last-minute deals here and there, it’s best to book in advance and lock-in the best price.

The main reason for booking a cruise today instead of weeks or months from now is that you can reprice your cruise until the sailing’s final payment date (75 days prior to sail date for 1-4 night cruises and 90 days prior to sail date for cruises 5 nights or longer).

How does repricing a cruise work?

Voyager of the Seas at dusk

Royal Caribbean’s Best Price Guarantee Program guarantees you’ll receive the best price on your cruise if there's a price drop.

If you book a cruise 12 months in advance for $1000, for example, and later see the price has dropped to $750, you’ll receive the new, cheaper price provided your cruise is not past the final payment date.

Ship docked in Caribbean

Price adjustments do not happen automatically, so you’ll have to periodically check Royal Caribbean’s website or contact your travel agent to see if the cruise fare has changed.

Note: The Best Price Guarantee Program is only available in select countries, including the US and Canada. If you’re not from the US or Canada, contact Royal Caribbean or your travel agent to check if you are eligible for price adjustments on your cruise.

While it’s recommended to book a cruise as early as possible, there are certain times of year where you can sometimes find better deals than others. An all-around cheaper cruise is never guaranteed when booking during these promotions, but it’s possible to find savings on certain stateroom categories or cruise add-ons.

Booking a cruise during wave season

“Wave Season” is a cruise industry term for the time of year in which cruise lines tend to offer their best promotions. Wave season traditionally occurs between January and March, which is a popular time for people to book vacations for the upcoming year and look for a tropical “escape” from winter temperatures up north.

Wave season promotions vary based on year, but you might see savings like 60% off a second guest and up to $150 onboard credit to use onboard. If you’re browsing Royal Caribbean’s website during wave season, you should take advantage of the offer to hopefully save some money and get onboard perks.

However, don’t wait until wave season to book a cruise, as you can always reprice an existing cruise to see if the wave season promotion is lower than the price you originally paid for the cruise or cruise add-ons like shore excursions and drink packages.

Black Friday cruise deals

Black Friday can be an excellent time to shop for a cruise vacation, and you’ll always find a Royal Caribbean cruise promotion during the biggest shopping weekend of the year.

However, do not wait to book a cruise until Black Friday. Instead, book the cruise now. Royal Caribbean allows price adjustments with no penalty until final payment date, so if you do notice a price drop when Black Friday rolls around, call Royal Caribbean or your travel agent to get the cruise fare adjustment.

Plus, you might find that Black Friday cruise deals are not very different from promotions you’ll see throughout the rest of the year. Unlike retail and technology stores, for example, cruise pricing does not drastically change on Black Friday. You might find that the Black Friday promotion is nearly the same as other promotions during the year.

Can I book a last-minute cruise?

While most of our advice points to booking a cruise earlier rather than later, you can occasionally find a cheap last-minute cruise deal on Royal Caribbean.

If a cruise is past final payment date and not all rooms have been booked, Royal Caribbean may drop prices in order to encourage more passengers to book the cruise.

While this may lead to great savings, a certain level of flexibility is needed before booking a cruise at the last minute. Stateroom, ship, and itinerary choices may be extremely limited, so keep an open mind before booking so you don’t end up disappointed!

More information on last-minute cruise deals:

Booking a cruise when new itineraries are released

You can often find the cheapest cruise fares right when new cruise itineraries are released. We tend to find that cruise fares increase over time as more staterooms get booked, so booking early can usually ensure the best price.

Cruise itineraries are usually released around two years in advance. One way to stay informed about new cruise itineraries is by subscribing to Royal Caribbean’s marketing emails or following Royal Caribbean Blog.

As an example, Royal Caribbean typically releases Alaska cruise itineraries in November for the season to come in two years, so summer 2024 itineraries would be released around November 2022.

Related: When is the best time to cruise to Alaska?

Booking when itineraries are released is especially recommended for cruises at peak times of year, most notably during the holiday season. Cruises over Thanksgiving and Christmas can sell out and see much higher prices than cruises at other times of the year. Booking early allows you to lock-in the best price and have the most flexibility over ships, staterooms, and itineraries.

Related: How Royal Caribbean celebrates holidays on a cruise

Best time for families to book a cruise

If you’re traveling with kids and have specific stateroom requirements, it’s better to book further in advance than at the last minute. Certain stateroom options, like connecting rooms, can sell out quickly during peak times of the year when kids are out of school.

Another great time to book a family cruise is during a Kids Sail Free promotion. Royal Caribbean will occasionally offer Kids Sail Free promos, during which the 3rd and 4th guests (or higher) who are 12 years or younger are eligible for free cruise fare.

Related: Here are the absolute best cruises for families

While “free cruise fare” sounds enticing, there are a few caveats with Kids Sail Free. Sailings must be 4 nights or longer and not occur during the promotion’s blackout dates. Unsurprisingly, blackout dates tend to be during peak times of the year during school holidays. Additionally, you’ll still have to pay taxes, port fees, and gratuities for kids.

That being said, booking during a Kids Sail Free promotion can be one of the best times for families to book a cruise.

Should I wait to book my Royal Caribbean cruise at NextCruise?

NextCruise is where you can book future Royal Caribbean cruises while onboard a ship. The major perk of booking a cruise at NextCruise is that you will receive up to $600 in onboard credit on the cruise and you’ll often see deposits as low as $100 per person.

While the onboard credit offerings at NextCruise are enticing, we don’t advise waiting to book at NextCruise if you’re not currently onboard a Royal Caribbean ship. Even if you have a cruise coming up in a few weeks or months, it’s almost always better to book a future cruise you are interested in while at home and not wait to book the cruise onboard.

This is because the cruise fare may increase in the weeks or months leading up to your cruise, thus negating any extra savings via onboard credit that you would receive while booking onboard.

More cruise planning resources:

Top 10 things to do in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on a cruise

In:
08 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is commonly visited on Mexican Riviera cruise itineraries. Located on the southernmost point of Baja California, Cabo San Lucas offers plenty of activities for all ages, from relaxing beach days to adrenaline-filled excursions.

Lands End rocks Cabo San Lucas

With its unique geography of desert landscapes mixed with sandy beaches, you can find a mix of land and sea-based activities in Cabo San Lucas. Here’s our list of the top 10 things to do when visiting this vibrant cruise port.

Visit Land’s End and its beaches

The first thing you’ll see when your cruise ship arrives in Cabo San Lucas is Land’s End, a rock formation that rises dramatically from the ocean at the southernmost tip of Baja California.

While your ship will sail past the formation on the way to Cabo, you can also take an excursion to get up close and personal with this impressive geographic landmark.

There are two beaches located at Land’s End: Lovers Beach and Divorce Beach. Lover’s Beach is ideal for swimming, as it’s nestled in a cove, whereas Divorce Beach is prone to rough waters due to its position on the open Pacific.

It’s recommended to take a local water taxi to reach the beaches, as they are only accessible by boat. Some boat tours may include the beaches in the excursion’s itinerary.

Go whale watching

Some of the best whale watching in Mexico, and perhaps even the world, is found off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. Humpback whales and gray whales are common to spot between the months of December to early April as they enjoy the warmer Pacific waters before making their way back to Alaska for the summer months.

Related: Whale watching in Cabo San Lucas

Snorkel or scuba dive in Chileno Bay

While some beaches around Cabo San Lucas are not recommended for swimming due to strong currents, the beach of Chileno Bay makes for excellent swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

Snorkeling tours to Chileno Bay start and end with a scenic catamaran ride, which allows you to cool off in the Pacific ocean breeze and take in Baja California’s coastal views.

Upon arrival at Chileno Bay, you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel amongst angelfish, manta rays, parrotfish, and other marine life.

Additionally, if you have an open water scuba diving certification, you’ll find that Chileno Bay offers some of the best diving opportunities in Cabo San Lucas.

Day trip to San José del Cabo

If you’ve been to Cabo San Lucas before or are looking to try something new, consider a day trip to San José del Cabo, located just 30 minutes from downtown Cabo San Lucas.

San José del Cabo is a more laid-back, artsy town compared to Cabo San Lucas, which is famous for its party atmosphere and beach resorts.

In San José del Cabo, you can spend the day wandering the town’s colonial-influenced streets, browsing local art galleries, relaxing at the town square, dining at a local restaurant, and enjoying a slower pace of life.

Taste local cuisine

Tasting local cuisine is a must when visiting any cruise port in Mexico, and Cabo San Lucas is best known for an abundance of fresh seafood.

While the name may seem a bit odd, don’t hesitate to taste chocolate clams while in port. While the clams do not contain chocolate, they are roasted on a stone bed and covered with rosemary, adding a unique flavor to this local delicacy.

You can’t go wrong with fish tacos, either, and you’ll find many restaurants and bars offering fish tacos made with marlin, which is a very common fish caught around the coast.

If you’re not keen on seafood, try guemes tamales, which are pork and chicken tamales commonly found in Baja California.

4x4 through desert landscapes

Cabo San Lucas is surrounded by dry, rugged landscapes along the coast of Baja California. If you’d prefer to escape the crowds and party scene found in town, consider a 4x4 tour to the “outback” of Cabo San Lucas.

4x4 tours take you off-road through scenic coastal paths, where your adrenaline is sure to get pumping as you drive along rocky trails and take in the dramatic change from desert to sea along the way.

Take a boat tour

Excursions on the water always make for a fun way to spend time in port, especially on warm, sunny days. The unique geography around Cabo San Lucas can make boat tours even more intriguing, allowing you to get closer to places like Land’s End and small coves along the coast.

If your cruise includes an overnight stop in Cabo San Lucas, you may want to consider an evening cruise for spectacular views of Cabo at sunset. Some tours may even include dinner, making it a romantic and beautiful excursion option.

Salsa, Salsa, and Margaritas

A fun shore excursion opportunity in Cabo San Lucas is “Salsa, Salsa, and Margaritas”, which combines two types of salsas (the kind you eat and the style of dance) with authentic margaritas.

The excursion starts with a hands-on instruction during which you’ll have the chance to make seven different types of salsas, from spicy red and green salsas to guacamole and pico de gallo. Salsas will be enjoyed with quesadillas, taquitos, and tortilla chips along with agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea) and all-you-can-drink margaritas.

Once filled up on fresh food and drinks, you’ll get the chance to put your dancing skills to the test with a salsa dancing lesson taught by a local expert.

Visit El Médano Beach

Another beach day option closer to downtown is El Médano Beach, one of the most popular beaches in all of Cabo San Lucas. Playa El Médano stretches several miles down the sand and is where you’ll find many of Cabo’s all-inclusive resorts and hotels.

The beach has relatively calm waters, as it is located in a small bay away from the open Pacific waters. Therefore it makes a nice swimmable beach option for visitors of all ages.

Playa El Médano can be accessed on foot from the Cabo San Lucas marina or via water taxi.

Spend the day at a resort

If you’re planning to have a beach day in Cabo San Lucas but want to be spoiled with amenities, consider purchasing a day pass at a local resort.

Resort For A Day offers all-inclusive day passes to two resorts in Cabo San Lucas: RIU Palace and Solmar Resort Cabo San Lucas.

Day passes cost around $100-130 and are all-inclusive, so you can enjoy unlimited food and drinks while at the resort. As a day guest, you have access to the resort’s amenities, including pools, whirlpools, beach access, towels, umbrellas, and chairs.

More Mexican Riviera cruise information:

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: August 7, 2022

In:
07 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Happy Sunday! We hope you are having a great weekend! Now it is time to sit back, relax, and catch up on all the Royal Caribbean news from the week!

Royal Caribbean announced an end to Covid testing for vaccinated passengers on short cruises.

Oasis of the Seas in Port Canaveral

Fully vaccinated guests will only have to show a test result at boarding if the sailing is 6 nights or longer.

For those that have to test, Royal Caribbean has made it easier by simplifying the testing time window. Guests will now have the same test standard, regardless of vaccination status: You can show a negative test result from a supervised PCR or antigen test taken within the 3 days before your boarding day. 

These new rules apply to cruises departing from U.S. homeports on or after August 8, 2022 that do not visit Bermuda or Canada. 

Royal Caribbean News

Video: Ranking EVERY SINGLE Free Royal Caribbean Restaurant

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: Ranking EVERY SINGLE Free Restaurant on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 463rd episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt lists the things to do in the final days before your cruise.

This week's episode is about sharing a a list of the most important things you should be doing in those last couple days leading up to your cruise.

Please subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! 

Guide to RoyalUp

Need the inside scoop on how to bid for a stateroom upgrade?

RoyalUp is Royal Caribbean’s stateroom bidding program that allows passengers to bid on higher cabin categories before their cruise, offering the chance to “win” an upgraded stateroom.

Before you bid, check out our RoyalUp tips and tricks for what to expect.

Why booking a last-minute cruise isn't always a great idea

While booking a last-minute cruise might seem like a great way to sneak in a cruise vacation, there are serious drawbacks to waiting to book.

There are a variety of considerations you should be aware of before booking a cruise in the final weeks or months prior to a cruise beginning that could make a last-minute cruise booking a problem.

From fewer choices to a higher overall vacation cost, here are the reasons why you shouldn't book a last minute cruise.

10 things I learned on my recent Royal Caribbean cruise

Angie just sailed on Mariner of the Seas for 8 nights and came back with her list of things she noticed, observed, and learned while onboard.

From dining to the Royal Caribbean app to secret areas of the ship, here's what Angie learned on her recent cruise.

8 ways to get the best cruise deals

In:
06 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Right now going on a cruise ship is one of the best vacation values out there, and if you're looking for the best deal, there are a few tried-and-true strategies.

Symphony of the Seas in PortMiami aerial

Cruise ships are sailing at 100% capacity in the Caribbean, which means lots of people are vying to get onboard as well.

While there are lots of people enjoying a cruise, the good news is you can still get a great deal on a cruise if you're looking for a deal. The key is to know where and when to look.

To get the best cruise deal, you're going to want to employ these top tips for getting a great price. No matter the time of year, these tricks should get you a great price so you can maximize every dollar of your vacation budget.

Book a cruise during off-peak times

Every region of the world that a cruise ship sails has peak and off-peak times, so if you can take a cruise during the less popular times you will find some of the best cruise deals out the season.

Off-season cruises are when there are less people able or willing to go on a cruise. Usually this is at the very beginning or very end of when ships begin sailing in a region, such as Europe or Alaska.

In the Caribbean, where the cruise season is year-round, the off-peak cruise times are usually opposite the school calendar. When school is in session, there are less families that can cruise.

St Maarten

Just like a 6am flight, there is less demand for these departures and that means lower prices to be found.

Besides bad timing, less than perfect weather can be a factor for why there is less demand for certain sailings.

In Alaska, the very beginning and end of the season is when it is coldest. May and September typically are when Alaska cruise prices dip to their lowest.

In the Caribbean, hurricane season greatly impacts people's desire to book a cruise. This means lower prices for a Caribbean cruise in September or October. You'll also find great prices in January and early February, when school is back in session.

Work with a travel agent

Explorer of the Seas docked

In other forms of travel, the public has been conditioned to expect the best prices if you book things on your own to "skip the middle man". This strategy doesn't work as well with cruises.

The cruise industry still relies heavily on travel agents to spur sales, and there is no doubt that a good travel agent can help get you the lowest possible price for a cruise.

The potential money savings of working with a travel agent are not about simply who can do an internet search for a cruise price faster. Travel agents have access to special group rates and discounts you would never be able to find on your own.

Mariner of the Seas lime and coconut

Many travel agents are part of a consortium of agencies, who have rates you cannot otherwise book. 

Moreover, a lot of people booking on their own may simply be unaware of special discounts offered to select groups, such as residency discounts, military discounts, and more.

If there's one incredibly common mistake people make by booking on their own, it's not fully understanding the deposit rules and regretting it later when there are fees for changing or cancelling.  Travel agents can assist greatly with this before making a mistake.

A good travel agent can guide you through the different fares, help you pick out the perfect cruise ship cabin type for your family and avoid the bad cabins.

The best part about leveraging a good travel agent is they should cost you nothing extra to use, because Royal Caribbean pays them a commission for their services.

Book your cruise as early as you can

The best strategy for locking in a great price for your cruise is to book as early as you can.

Cruise ship pricing has many factors, but as more and more cabins on a particular sailing get booked up, prices tend to go up as inventory diminishes.

Cruise experts advocate booking your cruise as soon as you can. Ideally, when Royal Caribbean releases the new sailings around two years in advance of the sail date and inventory is untouched. 

Royal Suite on Liberty of the Seas

Not only will booking a cruise years in advance get you a rock bottom price, you're also going to have plenty of cabin types to choose from. The first type of cabins to sell out on a cruise are almost always suites.

Of course, booking a cruise that far in advance is difficult for many people because most people don't plan vacations years in the future. But if you have the flexibility, this is the best strategy for netting a great cruise price.

Read moreHow far in advance should I book a cruise to get the best price?

Book a cruise on an older ship

Mariner of the Seas anchored

While Royal Caribbean's Oasis and Quantum Class ships are as amazing to cruise on as they look, they do not usually have the cheapest cruise fares out there. Newer ships command higher prices.

Instead, price shop around the Voyager or Radiance Class ships to find the real bargains.

Brilliance of the Seas side docked

Similar to how a used car that is a few years old will provide a better value than a brand new vehicle, cruise ships that have been around for a few years tend to offer better deals to entice cruisers to book them.

The great thing about the Voyager and Radiance Class ships is that you are not compromising a ton on the onboard experience, but will save a lot compared to the bigger ships.

Book a repositioning cruise

Ship sailing

If you don't mind flying, you can often find the lowest prices for a cruise on a sailing that begins in one port and ends in a different port.

Known as repositioning sailings, these are when Royal Caribbean moves the ship from one region to another.

Because of the logistics of getting to and from the cruise, as well as duration of the sailing, repositioning cruises can be a tremendous value. Simply put, less people are willing to book these because it requires more vacation time or they'd have to find a different way home.

The most common type of repositioning cruises are transalantic and transpacific cruises, where the ship moves between North America and Europe or Australia.

Last-minute cruise deals

More elusive than booking early, you can sometimes book a last-minute cruise deal if you are flexible.

This won't work for everyone, but there are sometimes really good prices in the final weeks leading up to a sailing when inventory hasn't fully sold out yet.

As mentioned earlier in this article, prices tend to go up over time as more and more people book a sailing. But sometimes a sailing doesn't sell as well as Royal Caribbean wants, and you can find a price drop meant to spur sales.

If you can travel on short notice and aren't picky, there are last-minute cruise deals to be had for those that look for them.

When you book at the last minute, you'll have less cabins to choose from and last minute airfare prices may negate any savings from the cruise fare.

Read moreWhy booking a last-minute cruise isn't always a great idea

It's important to act quickly if you do spot a good cruise to book that sails soon, because inventory within the last month or two of a cruise will disappear fast.

Book a guarantee cabin

One way to turn an average cruise price into a great deal is to let Royal Caribbean pick your exact cabin.

Guarantee staterooms are when you tell Royal Caribbean the minimum cabin type you want and let the cruise line assign a cabin to you, instead of you picking a specific room.

You will receive a room of at least that category (or higher), but it may be days or weeks before you learn of the room assignment.

Grandeur of the Seas hallway

In exchange for this ambiguity of room selection, you can often save hundreds of dollars off your cruise fare.

Keep in mind that you may end up with a cabin at the very front or very back of the ship. Or even a cabin with a partially blocked view. Those that value convenient cabin location or are sensitive to motion sickness may not want to roll the dice on a guarantee cabin.

If the exact location of your cabin doesn't matter much to you, then a guarantee room could be your ticket to deep savings.

Read moreHow to find the cheapest cabins on Royal Caribbean

Book Kids Sail Free if you have kids

Kids in splashaway Bay

Royal Caribbean will periodically offer a kids sail free promotion, where the third and fourth passengers under the age of 12 in your cabin will cost you nothing extra in terms of cruise fare.

In short, kids sail free will result in a cruise fare cost of zero dollars for third guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger. You are still responsible for paying for the taxes and port fees associated with the children, along with any other charges onboard.

For families, a kids sail free promotion is one of the most lucrative offers Royal Caribbean has, especially if you book a suite since the per-person savings are highest in these luxurious cabins.

Family in a Cabana

Kids sail free will still save you money on other cabin types, but the amount is significantly less.

One drawback of kids sail free is you have to share a cabin with your kids. This means in many cabins one bathroom for three or four of you.

Families on a budget can often get a great deal, especially when combining kids sail free with the tip earlier in this article about booking as early as you can.

Bonus: Going Going Gone Rates

10 things you didn't know about Perfect Day at CocoCay | Royal Caribbean Blog

A wonderful tool meant for travel agents to spot great deals has returned.

Before the pandemic the Going, Going, Gone weekly flyer was a staple at Royal Caribbean that would list especially good rates for last minute cruises to book.

The flyer usually gets updated weekly on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

You'll have to act fast if you want in on these days because by week’s end, most of the deals are gone.

You can find the flyer always at this address.

More cruise advice