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Mailbag: When do shore excursions become available to book for my Royal Caribbean cruise?

09 Sep 2022
Matt Hochberg

Planning for a cruise ship vacation means picking out fun and interesting tours while in the ports of call you visit, but when do excursions become available to book?

St Kitts scenic overlook

Periodically I answer questions RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers have sent to the RoyalCaribbeanBlog mailbag to answer for the benefit of everyone.

My family and I are booked on an Alaskan cruise for next August. I am starting to look into planning all of the details of our trip and wanted to know how far in advance Royal usually releases shore excursions for your cruise. Right now I see a few options but not a ton. When do  I need to really start checking in and looking for excursions? Thanks in advance for your help! - Katie L.

When I received Katie's question, I realized I've been getting this question asked a lot lately and wanted to share the answer for everyone curious when tours become available to book.

Royal Caribbean excursion sign

One of the best mantras for cruise planning is book as early as you can in order to get the lowest price. Cruise fares tend to be lower the sooner you book.

Not only does booking a cruise early lock in a good price, but you can also get the perfect cruise ship cabin for your family.

Read moreWhat's the best cruise ship cabin for my family?

Search results

If you book a cruise 9, 12, or 16 months in advance, you may find very few (if any) cruise add-ons to buy.

Read moreWhen should you buy Royal Caribbean drink package, wifi, tours & other add-ons

If you're like Katie and wondering when shore excursions will appear to book via Royal Caribbean's website, the short answer is "it depends".

Cruise planner results

Royal Caribbean doesn't have a set time frame when it loads in shore excursions to the Cruise Planner. This is no minimum number of days when tours get loaded, so it's up to the guest to keep checking back periodically.

If that answer doesn't sit well with you, I don't blame you. 

My best advice is to check back for shore excursions in the cruise planner around six months prior to your sail date because there's usually a good chance excursions will be added by that point.

Moreover, even if you check back at six months but shore excursions were added many weeks earlier than that, it shouldn't matter in terms of you being able to get the tour you want.

While Royal Caribbean shore excursions can sell out, most people are not booking up excursions half a year before they sail. In my opinion, there's minimal risk by checking back about six months before you sail for tours. Unlike check-in times on embarkation day, there won't be a rush to book things on the first day it becomes available.

St KItts volcano

If you still don't see tours by the six month timeframe, then check back more regularly as you're more likely to see them added than not. 

There can be any sort of behind-the-scenes reason why shore excursions aren't available to book yet, but they'll eventually make it in.

Read moreWhat to do if Royal Caribbean's shore excursions are sold out

Book on your own anytime

Family excursion in St Kitts

Regardless of when Royal Caribbean loads in shore excursions, you can always book your own tours via independent operators likely much sooner than six months before your sail date.

There's pros and cons of booking a third-party shore excursion, but you might consider browsing these in the interim just to have something ready.

Read more5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own

Most tour operators will allow bookings much further in advance than six months, especially for high-demand locations, such as Alaska cruises.

Not only will booking on your own give you a head start on Royal Caribbean's offerings, you may a greater variety of choices and perhaps a better price.

Does Royal Caribbean add more shore excursions closer to cruise date?

In addition to waiting for shore excursion to become available, a lot of people want to know if more tours will be added to the lineup.

It's not uncommon to see someone browse shore excursion options on the Royal Caribbean cruise planner site and find the choices limited. When browsing tours many months before the cruise, will there be more tours added by the cruise line?

Royal Caribbean sometimes adds new tours , especially if you checked tours more than a year before your sailing is scheduled to begin.

In addition, if a guest cancels a tour, suddenly a previously sold out excursion is bookable again.

If you read the first part of this article and made a note to check for new tours around six months prior to the cruise, then be sure to keep checking for new tours in the months leading up to your cruise because it's not unheard of for new tours to be added.

Does Royal Caribbean hold back spots on excursions booked online?

Another scenario you might encounter is the exact tour you wanted to do is no longer available to book because it sold out. Will more spots become available either online or onboard the ship?

In my experience, it's not that Royal Caribbean holds back spots as it is they can add capacity.

Sometimes the Shore Excursion department is able to book additional slots (tours) with their local operators.

Martinique Suspension Bridge

More commonly, people cancel their reservations and then an excursion becomes bookable again. In either case, the end-user will never know which scenario has occurred.

If you keep checking online and the tour never re-opens for bookings, you could asked to be placed on a waiting list once onboard the ship.

Ship in Cozumel

Wait lists are something the shore excursion desk can assist you with once you get on the cruise ship. I've had fairly good luck with wait lists, but there's no guarantee.

More mailbag questions:

The Crown and Anchor perks you should use on every Royal Caribbean cruise

08 Sep 2022
Matt Hochberg

Once you take a single cruise with Royal Caribbean, there are a number of great customer loyalty reward program benefits you receive on every subsequent cruise.

The exact benefits depend on your Crown and Anchor Society level. Just like an airline loyalty program, the more you travel, the more points you get. Unlike the airlines, your Royal Caribbean benefits never go away.

You can expect discounts, vouchers, and even freebies just for having sailed with Royal Caribbean in the past.

Depending on your cruising style and preferences, all the benefits may not be useful, but there are certainly a few that stand out as must-use nearly every cruise.

It should come as no surprise that the best benefits are reserved for the top tier members (Diamond and above), but there are still great value even at the entry level.

Where can I see a list of my benefits?

Cabin desk

There are two kinds of Crown and Anchor Society benefits: onboard and all around.

Prior to your cruise, you can take advantage of certain benefits simply by associating your loyalty number with your reservation. 

Assuming you put your loyalty number in your reservation when you booked your cruise, you'll receive a letter in your stateroom with your Crown and Anchor Society benefits.

The letter you get onboard the ship in your cabin lists even more benefits you can use:





Diamond Plus


Thanks to Twangster for sharing these scans.

That's a lot of rewards you can use, but which ones truly stand out as the kind you should use every single cruise you take?

Here's my top picks for discounts, offerings, and amenities worth redeeming on every Royal Caribbean cruise.

Beverage coupons - All tiers

Whether you are Gold or Pinnacle, you'll get coupons preloaded on your SeaPass card every sailing for drinks.

If you don't have a Royal Caribbean drink package, these beverage coupons can save you money on alcohol, coffees, and more.

  • 50% off coupon for any glass of wine, beer, or soda
  • 25% off any coffee beverage
  • 10% off any wine, beer or soda by the glass

Higher tiers, beginning with Platinum will get a free non-alcoholic specialty coffee with the purchase of a specialty restaurant dinner.

All you have to do is inform the waiter or bartender that you'd like to use your drink coupon and they can apply it on the spot. No physical coupon required.

Casino free play - All tiers

I couldn't believe it when someone told me I could play a few dollars in the casino every cruise, but it's true.

Crown and Anchor members get a range of free play to enjoy, and the exact amount varies depending on a few factors. It's available for the full cruise but if you go during the first couple of days, you get an extra $2.

All you have to do is go to any slot machine in the casino, enter your SeaPass card, create a new PIN and then transfer the money to your personal banker casino account. 

Casino on Royal Caribbean

The PIN you need at first is your birth month and birth day in 4 digits MMDD then it will prompt you create a new PIN.  

The process on the machine to transfer the freeplay money is not completely intuitive but once you figure it out it's the same ship to ship.

You cannot cash out the free play, and must play through until you use it up. Any winnings are yours to keep and cash out.

Free/discount souvenir photo - All tiers

While there's no cost to take a photo with the ship's photographers, a single photo will set you back $19.99.

Depending on your tier, you're entitled to either a free photo or big discount.

From Gold through Emerald, you'll get a buy one, get one 50% off photo.

At Diamond, you get one free photo.

These are wonderful keepsakes from the cruise, especially if you can get everyone dressed up.

Balcony discount - Platinum and above

Junior Suite on Harmony of the Seas

Should you book an inside cabin or is it worth it to move up to a balcony? If there's a discount on a balcony, that might sway your decision.

Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Crown & Anchor Society members will receive an increased discount for making a reservation for
a sail date outside of six months.

Once you achieve Platinum status, you can get an automatic discount on any balcony or suite you book.

 3-5 nights6-9 nights10+ nights
Diamond Plus$175$275$375
Pinnacle Club$175$275$375


In many cases, this discount can save a lot of money. The key is to book a cruise more than 6 months in advance, or these rates drop.

Free beverage vouchers - Diamond and above

Perhaps the best known and most valuable benefit are the free drinks Royal Caribbean gives its top tier guests each evening.

If you are Diamond, Diamond Plus, or Pinnacle, you can get a set amount of complimentary beverages every day of your cruise, which includes alcoholic beverages.

It's simple enough to redeem, you just tell the bartender you'd like to use your Diamond drink voucher and you pay nothing for the drink.

Read moreHow Royal Caribbean's free drink vouchers for Diamond and higher members works

Even kids can get free non-alcoholic drinks if they're a Diamond or higher cruiser.

I'm not aware of any other cruise line that offers its loyal customers free alcoholic drinks in this manner. For a lot of people, it becomes their defacto drink package.

Free internet access - Diamond and above

Diamond guests get one free day of wifi, while Diamond Plus get two free days of Surf & Stream internet package per sailing. 

If you make it Pinnacle Club, you actually get a free internet package for the duration of your cruise.

The only catch is you cannot pre-book, so you must wait to use it until you get onboard the ship.

BOGO Specialty Restaurant meal - Diamond Plus and above

Couple dining at Giovannis

The jump from Diamond to Diamond Plus isn't substantial, but there are some lucrative benefits to enjoy.

My favorite is the buy one, get one cover charge at a specialty restaurant for dinner on the first or second night of the cruise.

Just like the free wifi offer, you can't pre-book, but I've found it quite easy to redeem.

This is also great to use with family and friends, as you can apply the BOGO offer to other guests that are dining with you.

Free laundry once per cruise - Diamond Plus and above

Laundry bags

I always have to remind myself of this benefit, but Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club guests get a free wash and fold laundry bag on 5+ night cruises.

Royal Caribbean offers a Wash and Fold offer to all guests, which comes at a price of $34.99 and allows you put as many small pieces of laundry in a bag as you can for a fixed rate.

This is great for t-shirts, underwear, socks, and bathing suits. You can either use it mid-cruise to replenish your clean clothing, or at the end of the sailing to ensure there's less laundry waiting for you when you return home.

Diamond Lounge access - Diamond and above

It's fairly impressive that Royal Caribbean reserves a place on each cruise ship for use by its top tier members.

The Diamond Lounge is part social and part functional.

At its heart, it's a place for Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club cruisers to go to for a private enclave. A lot of cruisers enjoy the social aspect of the lounge, especially in the evening. This is when guests can meet other guests and perhaps make a friend.

In addition, there's complimentary beverages and hors d'oeuvres served. A 24 hour coffee and espresso machine is available to use, which can save you money on specialty coffees elsewhere.

The finger foods they have in the lounge each evening are delectable, and there's a breakfast spread too earlier in the day. You won't get a meal here, but it's enough to tide you over.

    Letting the Genie out of the bottle: Asking Royal Caribbean's wish maker the top questions

    08 Sep 2022
    Marcy Miyar

    There may not be a position on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship more mysterious than the Royal Genie.

    What adds to the intrigue is that you may not even realize you see them around the ship. A Genie doesn’t wear a nametag so they easily blend in to their surroundings. They are one of the few crew members that has access to the entire ship. Their impact on a Star Class passenger though is nothing short of magical.

    I recently had the honor of interviewing a current Royal Genie. He preferred to keep his name anonymous as to not draw attention to himself personally and to keep the focus on the Genies as a whole.

    However, he wanted to share some things you may not know. How does one become a Genie? What training do they go through? What would they like first time Star Class cruisers to know?

    Let’s find out.

    Who is chosen to be a Royal Genie?

    Genies lined up

    To be able to apply for the position, one must have two years of hospitality service experience and possess a degree in the industry. Genies are typically former Suite or Diamond Concierges.

    Being hired from outside the company is rare but does happen. They would be expected to have similar qualifications which you would normally find as a concierge of a five star hotel.

    Genies go through an extensive interview process with multiple Human Resource and Guest Service managers. They are required to make a short 2 minute video, simulating picking up a guest from the terminal and escorting them onto the ship, for example.

    White glove service

    They must demonstrate how they would handle a variety of guest situations. The final interview is with the Genie Fleet Coordinator. The entire process can take two or more months to complete.

    Read moreWhat is the difference between suite concierge and a Royal Genie?

    Training to become a Royal Genie


    Being chosen as a Royal Genie is only the beginning.

    Pre-pandemic, new Genies were flown to London to take classes at the British Butler Institute. There, they learned proper service techniques from a former butler to the Queen.

    They visited wineries, learned about varieties of cheeses and correct caviar presentation. Did you know you have to use plastic spoons to serve caviar as a metal one will change the flavor? I didn’t, but maybe that’s just me.

    A Genie's schedule

    Allure of the Seas

    What time a Genie starts their day will likely depend on if the ship is in port or at sea.

    Port days are generally earlier as most guests request to get off of the ship first, especially if they’re calling on one of the private islands. The Genie will escort them to the beach or pool with the loungers of their choice before the general public has disembarked.

    A typical end to their day would be around 11 p.m. At that point, most of the activities have ended and the specialty restaurants are closed.

    At the end of their five month contract, it is common for the ships management to ask if they’d like to return to the same ship.

    Additionally, when Genies receive appraisals from guests and crew members, they are able to get more opportunities; like moving to a new ship, for instance.

    What can a Genie do?

    The Genie’s goal is provide their guests with a unique, unforgettable and magical experience. Communication is key. They carefully listen to their guests needs and tailor their trip with experiences they may not have even suggested.

    Common guest requests are parties in their suite. Everything from birthdays, anniversaries and retirements to vow renewals and celebrations of life for family members that have passed on.

    Your experience may differ depending on if you’re on an Oasis or Quantum class ship.

    Oasis class tends to be more “show oriented” where the Genie will make sure you have the best seat in the house.

    Bumper cars

    Quantum class is more “activity oriented” where your Genie will escort you to the iFly, North Star, bumper cars and acrobat school.

    The only limits on a Genie’s power are things that go against company policies and local government laws. For example, guests would not be allowed in any backstage areas and bridge tours are currently suspended due to Covid restrictions. Additionally, your Genie cannot bypass the line at customs for you on debarkation morning.

    Read moreMy advice for someone using a Royal Genie on a Royal Caribbean cruise

    Requesting a Genie

    All Genies are amazing and more than capable of handling guests requests but can you request a specific Genie?

    The answer is, maybe.

    It depends on the ship if the Genies are able to trade guests. It is generally not a problem, especially if you already have a prior relationship with a Genie.

    Regardless, it is not unusual for the Genies to help each other out. There are at least three Genies per ship to take care of anywhere between eight and eleven suites.

    How much to tip a Genie?


    As a Star Class guest, daily gratuities are included in the cruise fare however, Genies are not included in that. When asked if he could provide some type of monetary guideline for genie gratuities, he instead referred to tipping as an “appreciation of service.” He reminded me that even beyond money, gratitude and kindness are always appreciated.

    If you check message boards online you will find many discussions regarding tipping the Genie and the amounts vary greatly. However, $100 per cabin/per day seems to be a pretty consistent opinion among Star Class cruisers.

    I would say that the amount you give should be based on how they made your vacation special, how many people they are arranging experiences for and your overall connection to them personally.

    Will Star Class expand?

    Freedom of the Seas docked in CocoCay

    I was surprised to learn that a lot of the requests he receives from guests is to have the Star Class program implemented on other Royal Caribbean ships.

    He recommends that guests fill out their comment cards to let Royal know their wishes.

    Final thoughts

    Royal Loft Suite

    When asked what a first time Star Class cruiser should know, the response was, trust your Genie to accomplish your dreams. Put yourself in vacation mode. Relax and know that they will take care of planning and organizing everything for you.

    To him, being a Genie is like being on stage. If your performance is seamless, you should never see what’s going on behind the scenes. While the Genie gets a lot of the credit, he reiterated it is a team effort with many different departments to make sure you have the most unique vacation experience possible.

    Ultimate Hawaii cruise guide

    07 Sep 2022
    Jenna DeLaurentis

    Royal Caribbean’s Hawaii cruises are unique itineraries where passengers can experience the phenomenal nature, culture, and cuisine of several Hawaiian islands in one cruise experience. While Hawaii cruises are only offered a few times per year, they are a dream vacation for many cruisers.

    Na Pali Coast

    The marvelous scenery of the Nā Pali coast, imposing Mauna Loa volcano, fresh bowls of poke, and ancient traditions found in Hawaii evoke a sense of wonder and discovery for visitors to the islands.

    If you’re interested in cruising to Hawaii with Royal Caribbean, here’s everything you need to know about what to expect when booking and sailing on a cruise to The Aloha State.

    In this guide:

    Does Royal Caribbean offer cruises to Hawaii?

    Royal Caribbean offers cruises to Hawaii, although they are limited and usually only offered as one-way legs on transpacific cruises. 

    Because it takes so long to cross the Pacific Ocean compared to the Atlantic, Royal Caribbean splits the crossing into two cruise segments: Vancouver to Hawaii (and vice versa) and Hawaii to Australia (and vice versa).

    Vancouver to Hawaii

    Vancouver to Hawaii cruise itineraries are 9-11 nights depending on the sailing.

    Hawaii is separated from North America by the Eastern Pacific barrier, a 4,000-mile stretch of deep ocean with no shallow areas. Because of this, there are no islands en route to Hawaii from Vancouver, so itineraries have a 5-6 day stretch of sea days to cross this section of the Pacific.

    Once in Hawaii, itineraries can differ quite a bit, with some cruises stopping in Maui for an overnight stay and others visiting 3-4 islands. Cruises end in Honolulu, Hawaii.

    Hawaii to Vancouver

    You can also choose to start a Hawaii cruise in Honolulu and end in Vancouver. Just like on the way to Hawaii, most itineraries are between 9-11 nights and visit several islands, including Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai.

    Related: Hawaii cruise on Royal Caribbean: Everything you need to know

    Transpacific cruises

    Transpacific cruises from Hawaii to Australia either begin or end in Honolulu, Oahu.

    While not a true “Hawaii cruise” because no port stops are offered in Hawaii except the embarkation/disembarkation port, these itineraries can still allow guests to spend time on the islands before or after the cruise.

    Hawaii to Australia (and vice versa)

    Most ships traveling from Vancouver to Hawaii will continue the transpacific crossing by traveling from Hawaii to Australia. This is the longer of the two stretches, taking 16-19 nights depending on the itinerary. There will be between 12-14 sea days on these transpacific cruises.

    After leaving Hawaii, there is a 5 day stretch at sea before visiting several ports in French Polynesia. Following a few days there, ships will continue to either the South Pacific islands or New Zealand before ending in Sydney or Brisbane, Australia.

    These itineraries are offered in reverse at the end of the Australia cruise season, starting in Australia and ending in Hawaii.

    Fun fact: When cruising to and from Australia to Hawaii, you will sail through the International Date Line. En route to Australia you’ll skip forward a day, whereas sailing to Hawaii you will “live the same day” twice!

    Round-trip Hawaii cruises

    Occasionally, Royal Caribbean will release an itinerary offering a “round-trip” Hawaii sailing, which is when a ship travels from Vancouver to Hawaii and immediately returns back to North America without continuing to Australia.

    These cruises will be split into two segments that you can book as a one-way leg or back to back, and they will be offered immediately following the Alaska cruise season in September/October.

    When can I cruise to Hawaii with Royal Caribbean?

    Because Royal Caribbean ships only visit Hawaii on their way to or from Australia, cruises are only offered at times which coincide with the change between the Australia/New Zealand cruise season and Alaska cruise season.

    September cruises to Hawaii

    The Alaska cruise season ends in mid to late September, and this is when 2-3 Royal Caribbean ships will begin the long journey to Australia for the summer season down under.

    You can expect to see cruises departing from Vancouver to Hawaii in the last week of September or first week of October. Cruises departing Hawaii for Australia will occur immediately after the trip from North America, setting sail in mid October.

    April cruises to Hawaii

    The Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific cruise season runs from October to April. Once the season is over, Royal Caribbean relocates its cruise ships back to North America.

    Transpacific cruises from Australia to Hawaii depart in the first half of April, reaching the shores of Hawaii at the end of April or beginning of May.

    Cruises from Hawaii to Vancouver occur immediately after the ship’s journey from Australia.

    Why go on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Hawaii?

    Easy travel from island to island

    One of the best benefits of cruising to Hawaii is traveling from island to island without hassle. There’s no need to get to an airport, go through security, and board a flight. Traveling via cruise ship means you can visit multiple islands while only unpacking one time!

    Depending on the itinerary, you can visit between 2-4 islands in Hawaii in a matter of days, and you won’t have to figure out any transportation logistics yourself, making for a stress-free way to explore the state.

    Traditional cuisine

    Hawaii’s cuisine has been shaped by a blend of cultures throughout history, from Polynesian to Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese, American, and more!

    Because of this melting pot of cuisines, Hawaii boasts cuisine unique to the state that is not so commonly found elsewhere in the United States. Poke (raw fish salad), poi (taro pudding), laulau (pork wrapped in taro leaves), and saimin (noodle soup) are just some of the mouth-watering dishes you can try on a cruise to Hawaii.

    Unparalleled nature

    Hawaii’s nature is unlike anything you’ll see in the continental United States–or perhaps anywhere else in the world.

    There aren’t many places on Earth where you’ll find a combination of lava fields, snow-capped volcanoes, colossal waterfalls, rainforests, lush valleys, and secluded beaches in one place, and it's sure to leave you speechless.

    Hawaii cruise ports

    Honolulu, Oahu

    The capital of Hawaii is a starting or ending point for Hawaii cruises, and offers urban life mixed with world-famous beaches, green mountains, diverse cultures, and history.

    As a start or end point of the cruise, many passengers decide to add a few extra days to their time in Hawaii before or after the cruise to experience more of what the island of Oahu has to offer.

    Popular activities on Oahu include hiking Diamond Head’s crater, touring Oahu’s North Shore, surfing, and attending an authentic Hawaiian luau.

    Visitors can also visit Pearl Harbor while on Oahu. Excursions bring passengers to the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Bowfin submarine, and USS Missouri battleship to learn more about the devastating attack in 1941.

    Lahaina, Maui

    Maui is the second largest Hawaiian island, and cruise ships stop in the historic town of Lahaina, located on the island's northwest coast.

    Maui is packed full of activities, from visiting the crater of Haleakalā to hiking the Iao Valley, swimming in waterfalls, and snorkeling at Molokini Crater. Lounging at the beach is a popular option in Maui, too, as the island has over 80 diverse beaches.

    Some itineraries include an overnight stop in Maui, giving you more time to explore this tropical paradise.

    Hilo, Hawaii

    Hilo is located on eastern coast of the Island of Hawai’i, often called the Big Island. Hilo is extremely lush, with plenty of waterfalls, beaches, and rainforest to discover. Rain falls in Hilo over 200 days of the year!

    Visiting the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a popular excursion for many visitors to Hilo, which is home to two of Hawaii’s most active volcanoes: Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.

    Akaka Falls is another must-see in the Hilo area, where the waterfall plunges a whopping 442 feet into a gorge below.

    Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

    Another port located on the Island of Hawai’i is Kailua-Kona. On the opposite side of the island from Hilo, Kailua-Kona is drier and sunnier than Hilo, making for excellent conditions for exploring the outdoors.

    Culture lovers will appreciate a visit to the Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, a spiritual sanctuary that was once the home of royal grounds and a place of refuge for those who broke kapu, which were ancient, sacred laws.

    If you don’t want to stray far from the port, downtown Kailua-Kona is filled with shops, restaurants, and farmers markets where you can purchase souvenirs as well as taste local products and cuisine.

    Nawiliwili, Kauai

    Kauai is the oldest of Hawaii’s main islands (the 2nd oldest overall) and it was formed over 5 million years ago. While there are no active volcanoes on the island today, the landscape has been carved by wave, wind, and water erosion, making for unique landscapes not seen on other islands.

    One of these features is Waimea Canyon, nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Visitors will be awe-inspired by the canyon’s steep hillsides reaching depths of over 3,600 feet.

    Nā Pali Coast (cruising)

    If you’ve seen pictures of Hawaii’s rugged, emerald coastline, odds are it was a photo of the Nā Pali Coast on the island of Kauai. One of the most recognizable coastlines in the world, the Nā Pali coast offers unparalleled views of steep sea cliffs rising dramatically from the ocean below.

    Some Hawaii cruise itineraries include a scenic cruising day around the Nā Pali coast. While passengers won’t disembark the ship on this day, they’re sure to be blown away by Hawaii’s natural beauty.

    Transpacific cruise ports

    If you book a transpacific cruise starting or ending in Hawaii, you will visit several ports in French Polynesia as well as a few stops in Melanesia or New Zealand.

    Ports may include:

    • Mo'orea, French Polynesia
    • Raiatea, French Polynesia
    • Papeete, Tahiti
    • Auckland, New Zealand
    • Bay of Islands, New Zealand
    • Napier, New Zealand
    • Picton, New Zealand
    • Mystery Island, Vanuatu
    • Port Vila, Vanuatu
    • Nouméa, New Caledonia

    Which Royal Caribbean cruise ships sail to Hawaii?

    Depending on the year, Royal Caribbean sends 2-3 cruise ships to Hawaii. Due to limitations of crossing from the Pacific to the Caribbean, the ships sent to Hawaii and Australia tend to be the same cruise ships offering Alaska cruise itineraries.

    Ovation of the Seas

    Ovation of the Seas is a Quantum Class cruise ship launched in 2016. As one of Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, she is packed with the latest activities, entertainment, and dining venues found in the fleet.

    Quantum Class ships were built to sail in all climates, with indoor pools, the SeaPlex sports center, and the Two70 entertainment venue and lounge which features floor-to-ceiling windows perfect for viewing Hawaii's scenery.

    Related: All about Quantum Class ships

    Quantum of the Seas

    Quantum of the Seas is a sister ship to Ovation of the Seas. She was the first ship in the Quantum Class, launching in 2014.

    Quantum of the Seas is nearly identical to Ovation of the Seas, albeit with a few changes in dining venues and entertainment shows.

    Quantum Class ships make a great choice for a Hawaii cruise for those looking for the most activities, dining options, and entertainment available on a cruise with many sea days. Even with 5 sea days in a row, it will be hard to be bored on a Quantum Class ship!

    Brilliance of the Seas

    Brilliance of the Seas will be offering cruises from Australia in the 2023-2024 cruise season, so she will be offering cruises to Hawaii en route to and from Australia

    Brilliance of the Seas is a Radiance Class cruise ship and while smaller than the Quantum Class, she still offers plenty to do, see, and eat onboard.

    One of the most beloved features of Radiance Class cruise ships is how much glass was built into the ship’s design. Large, panoramic windows are found all around the ship, which is a huge perk when traveling to a destination as beautiful as Hawaii.

    Related: All about Radiance Class cruise ships

    How much does a Hawaii cruise cost?

    Hawaii cruises (Vancouver to Hawaii and vice versa)

    Despite visiting a remote island chain in the Pacific, Hawaii itineraries can provide a great value on a cruise vacation. You'll often find prices comparable to Caribbean cruises, even though the cruises tend to be several days longer.

    Look for last-minute cruise deals to Hawaii, too, as these itineraries do not always book as quickly as others. Due to travel to and from Vancouver/Hawaii and the fact that cruises are one-way instead of round-trip, you can often find last-minute deals.

    Related: Ultimate Guide to last-minute cruise deals

    Here are a few sample prices of the total cost for 2 adults, including taxes and fees, on a Hawaii cruise starting or ending in Vancouver:

    9-night Hawaii cruise on Ovation of the Seas

    • Interior cabin: $1,805
    • Balcony cabin: $1,963

    11-night Hawaii cruise on Radiance of the Seas

    • Interior cabin: $2,132
    • Balcony cabin: $3,010

    Related: Interior vs Balcony staterooms on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

    Transpacific cruises (Hawaii to Australia and vice versa)

    Transpacific cruises starting in Hawaii and ending in Australia (or vice versa) are generally more expensive than those starting or ending in Vancouver. Not only are they 5-8 days longer, but they travel a further distance and visit destinations that are much more difficult to reach, such as Mo'orea and Tahiti.

    Here are a few sample prices of the total cost for 2 adults, including taxes and fees, on a transpacific cruise:

    15-night Transpacific cruise on Quantum of the Seas

    • Interior cabin: $2,908
    • Balcony cabin: $3,982

    18-night Transpacific cruise on Ovation of the Seas

    • Interior cabin: $3,443
    • Balcony cabin: $4,593

    Extra costs on a Hawaii cruise

    Outside of cruise fare, you’ll want to budget for the following add-ons when booking a Hawaii cruise:

    • Airfare
    • Hotel cost for the night before the cruise
    • Gratuities
    • Shore excursions or spending money in port
    • Optional onboard extras: beverage package, dining package, etc.

    Related: Top 30 extra cruise costs that aren’t included

    Because Royal Caribbean’s cruises to Hawaii are one-way sailings that require many sea days, it’s recommended to spend some time in Hawaii on land before or after the cruise.

    If you plan to do this, you’ll want to budget extra for hotels, food, and transportation costs in Hawaii.

    Planning a Royal Caribbean cruise? Start here:

    Cozumel’s Del Mar Latino Beach Club all-inclusive day pass review

    07 Sep 2022
    Allie Hubers

    If you’ve cruised in the Caribbean, there’s a good chance you’ve visited Cozumel, Mexico. Between the gorgeous beaches, incredible snorkeling and proximity to Tulum and Cancun, this is a popular port for cruisers. 

    Del Mar Latino Beach Club

    In fact, Cozumel has over 3.6 million annual visitors just from cruise ship traffic alone!

    As someone who loves to cruise, I’ve been to Cozumel probably a dozen times. At this point, it feels like I’ve done everything that the island has to offer. Now, one of my favorite ways to spend the day in Cozumel is at an all-inclusive resort.

    Cozumel coast with restaurants and bars

    With a day pass to an all-inclusive resort, you can access almost everything the resort has to offer while enjoying unlimited drinks and food. This can be a great option for cruisers who want to enjoy a low-key day in port while still enjoying the amenities of an all-inclusive resort. 

    There are also day passes to all-inclusive clubs in Cozumel - including the Del Mar Latino Beach Club. 


    Del Mar Latino Beach Club is described as being the perfect place for those looking to enjoy a relaxing atmosphere with Latin Caribbean ambiance. 

    With a regular rate of $39.95, this beach club offers a truly all-inclusive experience in Cozumel. Located within walking distance of the cruise ports, this exclusive club only allows a maximum number of 30 people each day. 

    A daily pass to Del Mar Latino Beach Club includes unlimited food and drinks; you also have access to the pool, loungers, bathroom facilities and internet. 

    Since this club is meant to offer a relaxing and intimate experience, Del Mar Latino Beach Club is fairly small. The beach club features a large pool surrounded by sun loungers and umbrellas. Del Mar Latino Beach Club also features a bar lined with high-top tables and chairs. 

    We booked this beach club the week before our cruise; luckily, the club still had availability for the day that we would be in Cozumel. Since Del Mar Latino Beach Club caps the daily admittance at 30 people, reservations should be booked in advance to secure a slot. 

    It appeared that the days leading up to our arrival were already booked, so we were excited to see our port day had availability. It was $8 for a deposit to reserve our slot for the day, in which the remaining balance would be due at arrival.  

    Getting to the club

    According to the information that was emailed with our reservation, the Del Mar Latino Beach Club operates from 9am to 5pm. 

    When we arrived in Cozumel, we took our time in the morning getting breakfast on the ship since we had the full day. By the time we started walking to the club, it was pouring rain - so we waited in the Duty Free Shopping area for the rain to pass.

    Our phones indicated that it was a short walk from the cruise terminal upon our arrival. The Royal Caribbean terminal is just a 5 minute walk to the entrance of the beach club. We walked outside of the terminal and, sure enough, we arrived quickly to Del Mar Latino Beach Club.

    I felt safe walking in this area, especially considering there was a lot of traffic and a taxi would have probably taken just as long. 

    When we arrived, we walked up to the bartender and checked in. They had a list with our names on there and we paid the remaining amount for the day. We were given wristbands to wear for the day.

    All-inclusive experience

    Upon arrival, we quickly made our way to the bar and ordered a round of piña coladas. There’s no better way to start a day in Mexico than with a cool, refreshing piña colada! It was delicious and creamy. 

    After looking around the club, we decided to get in the pool. The pool is a decent size with plenty of room for everyone to sit comfortably. We had a gorgeous view of the ocean and the cruise ships nearby. 

    The waitress came over to us multiple times during our time in the pool. My choice of drink is always a mojito and Del Mar Latino Beach Club’s mojitos were absolutely delicious! 

    We also tried a Miami Vice, Chunky Monkey and Tequila Sunrise. There wasn’t a cocktail at this beach club that we didn’t enjoy! The drinks went down smoothly and we were having a wonderful time relaxing in the pool and listening to the music played by the DJ. 

    As we lounged in the pool, we realized we did not bring towels with us off the ship. We reviewed the reservation notes and found that it did not state to bring towels; however, it also didn’t state that towels were included. We inquired with the staff about towels and they stated we could rent them for $5 each. This was reasonable, but we opted to just air dry after we enjoyed some time in the loungers. This was an oversight on our part and we should have brought towels just in case. 

    After a few drinks in the pool, we had the munchies and decided to order food. Since everything was included from the snack menu, we ordered a variety of options. We tried the quesadillas, fried chicken tacos and chicken strips. 

    Everything we ordered was hot, fresh and very tasty. We even ordered a second round of food because the portions were snack size and we enjoyed everything we tried. 

    Throughout the day, we also made trips to the beach club’s bathroom facilities. These were well-kept and clean, which we appreciated. 

    After 4-5 hours at Del Mar Latino beach club, we decided to walk back to the cruise terminal and head back to the ship after a wonderfully relaxing day. 

    Final Comments

    There are a few components that make an all-inclusive day pass worthwhile: fair price, attentive service, well-kept pools and freshly made food and drinks. 

    We were very satisfied with our experience at Del Mar Latino Beach Club and felt all of these expectations were met.

    To start, the price of $39.95 feels like a great value considering the drinks and food are unlimited. We had a tasty lunch and multiple drinks during the day, so the price of admission was very fair just in the amount of food and drink we consumed. 

    We found the drinks and snack menu to have a wide selection to choose from. We tried almost every drink on the menu and agreed that the mojitos were the best, although everything tasted yummy. We also enjoyed everything we ordered from the snack menu - especially the quesadilla! 

    The pool was well-kept and very comfortable; we saw a pool attendant come around and check the levels of the pool while we were swimming. The pool is also covered, which was nice since it rained a few times throughout the day. 

    We were very impressed with the service provided as well. There was a waitress who attentively served us in the pool and brought us drinks throughout the afternoon. It was nice that we didn’t need to get out of the pool to get another drink. We were always served our drinks quickly!

    The overall ambiance was very low-key and relaxing, especially with the wonderful ocean views and delicious drinks. With less than 30 people at Del Mar Latino Beach Club during our stay, it never felt cramped or crowded. 

    Since this exclusive club is located near the cruise port, there isn’t a sandy beach to enjoy. If you are hoping to sit on a beach during the day, this might not be the best option. There is a man-made entrance to the sea from the club, but you’re essentially jumping right into the sea. I didn’t see anyone in the ocean during our time there, so I think most people stick to the pool. 

    I would absolutely return to this beach club because of the incredible value and overall convenience to the cruise port. It was great being able to walk right to the club and not need to take a taxi. I live near the beach here in Florida, so I am fine sacrificing a beach day for a day at this exclusive and relaxing beach club. 

    Icon of the Seas looks like it will have a new bow design for Royal Caribbean

    06 Sep 2022
    Allie Hubers

    Even as Royal Caribbean continues to remain silent on the cruise line’s newest ship, newly released photos reveal what Icon of the Seas' bow will look like. 

    Brand new pictures from the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland show tug boats transporting the bow for Icon of the Seas. The exciting series of photos, shared by finki.22 on Instagram, feature the arrival by barge of the massive new bow for Icon of the Seas. 

    It was a busy day at the Meyer Turku shipyard! The Instagram caption states that tugboats arrived from Poland with the bow of Icon of the Seas. Earlier in the day, the same tugboats assisted the new Carnival Celebration out of the shipyard for its sea trials. In fact, the two ships have been under construction together at the Finish shipyard. 

    As seen in the photos, the bow color is Royal Caribbean’s signature baby blue color, which matches the coloring of the hull. The cruise line’s newest ships have started to feature this new light blue coloring, with Royal Caribbean choosing to phase out its classic white-colored hulls. 

    In the background of the photos, the construction for Icon of the Seas can also be seen. Construction on Royal Caribbean’s newest ship started in June 2021. 

    Royal Caribbean continues to keep hush-hush regarding Icon of the Seas, leading many to speculate about the ship’s design, amenities and features. 

    Thanks to finki.22 for posting these photos.

    Parabolic Bow Design

    The bow for Icon of the Seas is now confirmed to be Royal Caribbean’s first ship to feature a parabolic bow design. This is a functional design element that creates a curved indentation in the bottom of the vessel’s hull. 

    With the arrival of Icon of the Seas’ bow, construction will enter its next phase of fitting the bow to the hull of the ship. 

    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. 

    Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from August 2022

    Essentially, it’s unsurprising Royal Caribbean would choose this design for its newest ship; parabolic bows cultivate a smoother ride for cruisers. This is especially important for ships that are heavily-loaded.

    Early reports from Royal Caribbean have stated that Icon of the Seas will be the biggest cruise ship in the world, so the parabolic bow is an effective design choice.

    Icon of the Seas

    Although we know Icon of the Seas will have a parabolic bow design, there has been very little information about the ship’s design released by Royal Caribbean at this point. The cruise line has done an excellent job creating hype and excitement about what Icon of the Seas could bring to the Royal Caribbean fleet. 

    Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from August 2022

    Within recent weeks, Royal Caribbean released a new video series about Icon of the Seas. The highly-anticipated series is titled ‘Making an Icon’. During the first video of the series, Royal Caribbean described its newest ship as “the most transformative ship the world has ever seen”. 

    Making an Icon

    The series has promised to feature footage from behind the scenes of the ship’s design, construction and eventual launch of Icon of the Seas. Engineers and industry experts will be featured to talk about the revolutionary cruise ship, which Royal Caribbean claims will offer the best family vacation in the world.   

    Along with the hype of its design and amenities, Royal Caribbean has also announced that Icon of the Seas will start sailing in late 2023 as the cruise line’s first LNG powered ship in its fleet. LNG powered cruise ships feature dual engines that utilize liquified natural gas to propel the ship. This makes the ships more efficient and environmentally friendly.

    Icon of the Seas keel-laying ceremony

    A huge media campaign has started for Icon of the Seas, with CEO Michael Bayley hinting at a fall reveal. In addition, Bayley already revealed that Icon of the Seas will first set sail from the UK. 

    Icon of the Seas is the first of its kind for Royal Caribbean and the first of a new class of ships. Royal Caribbean has not released a new ship class in over a decade; instead, the company has continued to expand its Oasis-class and Quantum-class ships, including Wonder of the Seas in 2022 and Odyssey of the Seas in 2021.

    Icon of the Seas bridge under construction

    At one point earlier this year, it was teased that a full-blown marketing event could be launched in New York City this fall. 

    The CEO has also emphasized that the innovation and design of Icon of the Seas will be unlike anything Royal Caribbean has built before. Guests can expect incredible onboard thrills, water experiences like no other, and unparalleled entertainment.

    What happens if you miss your cruise ship?

    06 Sep 2022
    Jenna DeLaurentis

    Every cruiser’s worst nightmare is running to the pier as your cruise ship sails away, leaving you stranded in a foreign place!

    Freedom of the Seas sailing away

    Videos of “pier runners” (people frantically running to the ship) are popular online and can provide a great laugh, but the reality is that missing a cruise ship is not something you want to deal with on vacation!

    Paying out-of-pocket to travel to the next port and being in a foreign country without any of your belongings is not on anyone’s vacation bucket-list. While you’ll have extra protections when on a shore excursion booked through Royal Caribbean, missing the cruise ship can still be a stressful experience for any passenger.

    The good news is that missing the cruise ship is not as common as you might think, and with proper planning and responsibility, you’ll be able to ensure you arrive back to the ship with plenty of time to spare.

    Here’s what happens when you miss your cruise ship and the steps you can take to avoid this mistake.

    Will the cruise ship wait for you if you’re running late?

    The general rule of thumb is that a Royal Caribbean cruise ship will not wait for you if you’re running late and miss all-aboard time when not on a Royal Caribbean shore excursion.

    Cruise ships run on tight schedules, and even a 30 minute to an hour delay can cause problems later on, whether arriving late in the next port or rearranging onboard schedules.

    If all-aboard time is 5:30PM and you arrive at 5:35PM, the gangway will likely still be open. When a captain is notified that passengers have not made it back onboard, he or she will try to keep the gangway up as long as possible to ensure they can make it back to the ship.

    This wiggle room is not very much time, however, and if you’re 30 minutes late for the ship, you should expect the gangway to be up and the ship ready to sail away.

    Exact protocols can change depending on specific ports and scheduling situations.

    What if I’m on a shore excursion booked through Royal Caribbean?

    If you’re running late but are on an excursion you booked through Royal Caribbean, you’ll receive added protections and the ship will wait for you and your tour group for as long as possible.

    If the tour is running extremely late due to an unforeseen event and the ship absolutely cannot wait for the tour group to return before leaving port, Royal Caribbean will cover the cost of transferring all tour group members to the next port of call.

    Related: Guide to picking the perfect Royal Caribbean shore excursion

    What happens if I miss the cruise ship when NOT on a Royal Caribbean excursion?

    Once the ship realizes you have not returned, they’ll often enter your stateroom to remove any essential items like passports and leave the items with the port agents on land. Keeping these items in an easy-to-find place (like the safe) can help crew members locate the items quickly in an emergency.

    You’ll be able to retrieve the items Royal Caribbean left with the port agents when you eventually show up to port, even if the ship has already left. Once at the port, the port agents can assist you with figuring out the next steps and contacting Royal Caribbean.

    Once you are able to contact the ship/Royal Caribbean, you can discuss your options with them and they can assist you with booking any necessary travel arrangements. These travel arrangements will not be covered by Royal Caribbean and can be costly, especially when traveling from island to island at the last minute.

    If you do not have a passport or other proper identification with you, you’ll want to visit the nearest U.S. embassy to discuss next steps and receive replacement identification.

    Passenger Vessel Services Act complications

    Missing the cruise ship gets more complicated when you miss the ship in a U.S. port of call and want to meet up with the ship in another U.S. port of call.

    This is because of the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA), which prohibits foreign-flagged cruise ships from transporting passengers from one U.S. port to another.

    While there are a few exceptions to this rule (round-trip sailings from the U.S. that visit a foreign country and travel from one U.S. port to another U.S. port including a stop at a “distant foreign port” like Cartagena or Bermuda), cruise lines will violate the PVSA if you depart from Miami and miss the ship on a port day in Key West, for example. This is because the cruise line technically transported a passenger from one U.S. port to another. 

    If you miss the ship in Charleston, South Carolina and the next port of call is Port Canaveral, Florida, you unfortunately will not be able to board the ship in Charleston without breaking the PVSA. Instead, you will have to meet the ship in the first foreign port of call, such as the Bahamas, but this can cause you to miss much more of the cruise than you’d like.

    How to avoid missing the ship

    Keep track of time

    Setting an alarm on your phone for 1-2 hours before all-aboard time can be a fool-proof way to ensure you don’t lose track of time.

    Plan to get back onboard at least one hour before the ship’s scheduled departure time, and it’s a good idea to leave even more buffer room if you’re further away from the ship while in port.

    Make sure your phone is set to ship time

    It’s common for cruise ship itineraries to sail through several time zones, with some itineraries switching time zones nearly every day! To make time zones easier to navigate onboard, Royal Caribbean uses what they refer to as “ship time”.

    Ship time is the time used onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise, and it may or may not change when you enter/exit new time zones throughout the sailing. Any changes in ship time will be posted on the Cruise Compass.

    Before you disembark the ship in port, double check that your phone’s time is set to the correct ship time. You don’t want to think it’s 5PM when it’s actually 6PM on the ship!

    In addition, be sure to switch your phone’s time and date settings to manual time instead of automatic. This ensures your phone’s time won’t switch to the destination’s time zone automatically when you switch on your phone service.

    Book excursions through Royal Caribbean

    Perhaps the biggest benefit of booking shore excursions through Royal Caribbean is the added protection you’ll receive in case your tour runs late. Your cruise ship will wait for your tour group as long as possible, and even cover the cost of transportation to the next port if the ship cannot wait.

    Related: Is it better to book excursions through the cruise ship?

    Fly to your departure port the day before your cruise

    One of our top tips here at Royal Caribbean Blog is to avoid flying to your departure port the same day your cruise begins. While saving on hotel costs and PTO can seem appealing, there are way too many risks involved when flying the same day as your cruise.

    Weather delays, flight cancellations, and missed connections can cause you to miss your cruise altogether. Flying in a day ahead of time allots extra wiggle room to help ensure you’ll make it to the cruise port with plenty of time to spare.

    Related: Why you shouldn't fly to your cruise the same day it begins

    Don’t travel too far

    Another way to avoid missing the ship is by limiting how far you travel from the port.

    If you’re dreaming of visiting Chichén Itzá while the ship docks in Cozumel, as an example, it’s probably best to book a Royal Caribbean excursion. Visiting the Mayan Ruins requires a 45 minute ferry each way followed by nearly 2 hours by bus.

    With so much travel time required, there’s a higher chance something could go wrong along the way (ferry delays, traffic, bus breaks down, etc.).

    Avoid drinking too much

    Indulging in cocktails, beer, and wine in your port of call may be a fun way to spend the day, but take precautions if you plan on drinking excessively.

    Many passengers that find themselves running back to the ship–and even missing the ship altogether–may have spent the day having too much fun and losing track of time.

    Have you ever missed the cruise ship (or witnessed the aforementioned 'pier runners' running to the ship)? Share you stories below!

    Royal Caribbean cruises in September 2022: What to expect

    05 Sep 2022
    Matt Hochberg

    Have a Royal Caribbean cruise planned for September 2022? Fall is a popular time to sail because of lower prices.

    There is plenty happening and changing with cruise ships, so here is a look at what to expect if you are going on a cruise in September.

    This post will share important information what you should know before going on a cruise in September. September is the traditional beginning of fall, but it is still a very hot month in the Caribbean.  Meanwhile there are also ships sailing to Alaska and Europe.

    September is also one of the best months to book a cruise in terms of value.  Since school is back in session, there are less families cruising and with it being the peak of hurricane season, demand for cruises dips a bit.  The result is competitive prices for going on a cruise.

    If you can find time to hop on a ship, September is a great time to cruise and with more ships back in service, there are lots of good options again to consider.

    Ships sailing in September 2022

    Every single Royal Caribbean cruise ship is back in service, so here's a breakdown of where each ship is located.

    • Freedom of the Seas from Miami, Florida
    • Anthem of the Seas from Southampton, England
    • Allure of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    • Symphony of the Seas from Miami, Florida
    • Independence of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
    • Harmony of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
    • Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
    • Liberty of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
    • Adventure of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
    • Explorer of the Seas from Miami, Florida
    • Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles, California
    • Spectrum of the Seas from Singapore
    • Grandeur of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
    • Enchantment of the Seas from Baltimore, Maryland
    • Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver, Canada or Seward, Alaska
    • Serenade of the Seas from Vancouver, Canada
    • Voyager of the Seas from Copenhagen, Denmark
    • Quantum of the Seas from Seattle, Washington
    • Ovation of the Seas from Seattle, Washington
    • Oasis of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
    • Brilliance of the Seas from Rome, Italy
    • Wonder of the Seas from Barcelona and Rome
    • Odyssey of the Seas from from Rome, Italy
    • Vision of the Seas from Barcelona, Spain
    • Rhapsody of the Seas from Haifa, Israel
    • Jewel of the Seas from Amsterdam, Netherlands until she moves to Barcelona, Spain

    You will find Royal Caribbean cruises sailing in three markets during July: the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe.

    New vaccine requirement for cruises sailing in September 2022

    The biggest change in terms of protocols will begin in September when Royal Caribbean drops vaccine requirements for most sailings.

    Beginning September 5, for U.S. cruises that don’t visit Canada or Bermuda, the base protocols will greatly open up.

    Vaccinated guests won’t have to take a pre-cruise test on cruises that are shorter than 10 nights. Unvaccinated guests age 5 and up will need to test within 3 days before boarding, regardless of cruise length.

    Currently published testing and vaccination requirements remain in place for cruises from Australia and Singapore; cruises that depart from or visit Canada or Bermuda; and transatlantic sailings, until further notice.

    September weather on a cruise

    While it may be fall where you live, September is still very much summer in the Caribbean.

    Expect typical summer weather in the Caribbean, which means hot and humid weather with passing rain showers at any given time.

    If you are looking at the weather forecast for your cruise, don't be surprised if rain is in the forecast every day.  All that means is there is a chance for a passing or pop up storm.  More than likely you will have plenty of sun, with perhaps a quick downpour.

    September is the beginning of the peak of hurricane season, which means the likelihood of a named storm is higher than it was earlier in the summer. 

    According to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, 87 percent of minor and 96 percent of major hurricanes occur between August and October, peaking in early September.

    Hurricanes are obviously an issue, but Royal Caribbean monitors the weather and will move ships around storms.  Fear not: your ship will not go anywhere near a hurricane.

    The biggest issue with cruising in September is the last-minute itinerary changes that can occur due to storms. 

    Read moreWhat to know about cruising during hurricane season in the Caribbean

    Over in Alaska, September begins the end of the Alaska cruise season, although Royal Caribbean extended the season this year by an extra month.

    Just like in the Caribbean, September is one of the cheapest months to sail to Alaska because kids are back in school. 

    In addition, the best time see the Northern Lights in Alaska is in September. September is the time of year when the sun sets earlier during the cruise season, which means the sky gets darker and makes for the most ideal viewing conditions.

    Read more50 tips for planning your Alaska cruise

    And yes, September is also a great time visit Europe for good deals.

    September is a popular time to cruise the Western Mediterranean because you can avoid the families and still enjoy warm temperatures. 

    I've been on every class of Royal Caribbean cruise ships: here's what I like about each

    05 Sep 2022
    Jenna DeLaurentis

    A year ago last August, I embarked my first Royal Caribbean cruise on Mariner of the Seas. Since then, I’ve spent 67 nights on 12 Royal Caribbean cruise ships, traveled to 25 different ports, accumulated 141 Crown & Anchor Society points, and made countless memories around the world.

    Oasis of the Seas next to Liberty of the Seas in Cozumel

    Royal Caribbean has six distinct classes of cruise ships, each with their own layouts, amenities, itinerary options, and onboard atmosphere. I recently cruised to Alaska on Radiance of the Seas, completing my goal of sailing on every class of Royal Caribbean ships.

    Even though all Royal Caribbean cruise ships are distinctly Royal Caribbean in branding and design, they can feel quite different from one another when comparing the ships side by side. 

    My cruising style

    Before understanding why I feel the way I do about Royal Caribbean’s ship classes, it’s important to understand my cruising style.

    I tend to spend more time relaxing without a plan onboard rather than trying to experience as many attractions as possible. While endless activities and entertainment options are certainly appreciated, I will enjoy a cruise equally with or without these activities.

    Related: Royal Caribbean ship classes guide & explanation

    I also do not cruise with children, so activities like water slides, zip lines, and kids programming do not factor in to whether I prefer one ship class over another.

    I love using cruising (and traveling in general) as a way to discover as many cultures, countries, cuisines, and ports as possible. The cruise ship’s itinerary matters much more to me than what the ship’s layout is like, how many passengers are onboard, which dining venues are available, etc.

    With all that being said, here’s what I like (and dislike) about each class of Royal Caribbean ships.

    Quantum Class

    Ships I’ve sailed on: Odyssey of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas

    The Quantum Class may be my favorite class of Royal Caribbean's ships. The combination of elegant design, indoor spaces, and fantastic itineraries make them a strong contender for Royal Caribbean's best cruise ships.

    Related: All about Quantum Class ships

    Quantum Class ships sail to perhaps the widest range of destinations offered by Royal Caribbean, from the Caribbean to northern Europe, Israel, Greece, Turkey, Australia, the South Pacific, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Alaska, Hawaii, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and more.

    As someone who values itineraries even more than ships, the itinerary options are a strong contender for me choosing to sail on a Quantum Class ship.

    The Quantum Class has some of the best venues in the fleet as well. The climate-controlled Solarium is definitely my favorite in the fleet, and Two70 is a breathtaking venue offering not only the best views of the ship’s aft, but great entertainment shows, too.

    Related: Anthem of the Seas guide & review

    The outdoor dining area at the Windjammer on Quantum, Anthem, and Ovation of the Seas is another major plus for the Quantum Class.

    I don't have many drawbacks about the Quantum Class. While the Royal Esplanade sometimes reminds me more of a shopping mall than a cruise ship and I wish the outdoor Promenade deck wrapped around the whole ship for a better walking experience, these aren't make it or break it drawbacks.

    Oasis Class

    Ships I’ve sailed on: Harmony of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas

    Oasis Class cruise ships are undoubtedly an impressive feat of engineering and design. Walking onboard an Oasis Class ship for the first time is mind-blowing. The scale, layout, and amount of activities available on Oasis Class ships are unparalleled in the cruise industry.

    Related: All about Oasis Class cruise ships

    My favorite place on an Oasis Class cruise ship is Central Park, simply because it is so unique. Being onboard a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean and walking through a park filled with trees, shrubs, and flowers is hard to wrap your head around!

    Additionally, my favorite time to have a dining package is when I’m sailing on an Oasis Class ship. Oasis Class ships have an insane amount of places to dine, both complimentary and specialty. My favorite Oasis Class-exclusive dining venue is 150 Central Park. The fried cheesecake is to die for! Vitality Cafe is another favorite, and I order a custom smoothie nearly every day of the cruise.

    The biggest drawback of the Oasis Class ships to me are the lack of areas with ocean views. So many spaces and venues, like restaurants and lounges, have no views or very limited views of the ocean.

    Related: Wonder of the Seas neighborhoods tour

    I also find the itineraries on Oasis Class ships pretty boring as they lack variation. While I'll never complain about spending the day in Cozumel, Costa Maya, St. Maarten, or St. Thomas, there are so many other ports around the world to discover that are not accessible by Oasis Class ships!

    These two drawbacks make me unlikely to book many cruises on Oasis Class ships myself, but I definitely feel that Oasis Class ships are the “perfect” cruise ship for many types of cruisers, especially families with young children.

    Freedom Class

    Ships I’ve sailed on: Independence of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas

    Freedom Class ships offer something for everyone onboard without being too big, and that’s one of the things I like most about them. They also tend to offer a great value while still offering many of Royal Caribbean’s newest amenities.

    Related: All about Freedom Class cruise ships

    My favorite entertainment shows to watch on a cruise are the ice-skating shows in Studio B, so that’s one plus of Freedom Class ships. I also feel the Main Dining Rooms on the Freedom Class (and Voyager Class) are the most beautiful in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.

    The amplification of Freedom of the Seas was awesome and it is the perfect ship to sail weekend party cruises from Miami! My 3-night cruise on Freedom of the Seas was, by far, the most high-energy cruise I’ve experienced on Royal Caribbean.

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

    The downside to the Freedom Class, in my opinion, is the lack of any varied itineraries due to the ships offering primarily 3 and 4-night sailings to Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

    That being said, I do think the size and range of activities on Freedom Class ships are perfect for short Bahamas itineraries.

    Voyager Class

    Ships I’ve sailed on: Mariner of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas

    While my first cruise was on a Voyager Class ship, I've only spent a total of 6 nights onboard the Voyager Class (4 on Mariner and 2 on Navigator). That being said, I’ve really enjoyed my time on Voyager Class ships, and it’s one of my favorite ship classes.

    Related: All about Voyager Class cruise ships

    I love the size of a Voyager Class cruise ship as it’s neither too big nor too small. Several of the ships have received amplifications, bringing the best of Royal Caribbean’s dining and activities without an overwhelmingly large size.

    The best spot onboard Voyager Class ships has to be the helicopter pad for the amazing views you’ll see during sailaway!

    My favorite bar of any Royal Caribbean ship, The Bamboo Room, is found only on the Voyager Class (Mariner and Navigator), and the bar is home to my favorite drink in the fleet, the Banana Colada!

    One feature I find interesting and unique in Royal Caribbean’s fleet is the peek-a-boo bridge I encountered on Mariner of the Seas. Located all the way forward and accessible from the front of the Vitality Fitness Center, the peek-a-boo bridge allows guests to “peek” into the bridge below and observe the work of the officers.

    Related: Top 10 Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas hidden secrets

    Another plus is that Voyager Class cruise ships sail relatively varied itineraries, from the Mexican Riviera to Europe, the northeast/Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. 

    Radiance Class

    Ship I’ve sailed on: Radiance of the Seas

    While I’ve only been on one Radiance Class cruise ship, I am already looking forward to sailing on the other 3 ships in the class.

    The Radiance Class cruise ships are stunning due to the amount of window space that was constructed into the ships’ designs. Radiance Class ships have over three acres of glass onboard, meaning you’ll have picture-perfect views of the ocean from nearly any venue.

    Related: All about Radiance Class cruise ships

    As I mentioned, one of my biggest complaints about the Oasis Class is that it’s too easy to forget you’re on a ship due to the inward facing design of the class. With how many windows are found on a Radiance Class ship, it would be virtually impossible to forget you’re in the ocean while onboard!

    One of my favorite features on Radiance Class cruise ships is the cinema, a small movie theater with a different movie shown four times each day. The cinema is free of charge and is a relaxing way to spend a few hours, especially on chilly days at sea.

    Related: 20 Radiance Class cruise ship tips and secrets

    I would sail on the Radiance Class time and time again just for the amazing itinerary options. Radiance Class ships, like Quantum Class ships, sail all over the world. Some of Royal Caribbean's most unique ports, such as Nuuk, Greenland and Lifou, Loyalty Islands, are visited by Radiance Class cruise ships.

    Related: 10 Royal Caribbean cruise destinations not to be missed

    The one problem I found on Radiance Class ships is that I had trouble finding a quiet area of the ship at night. The “library” is located in the Centrum, which has a full schedule of live music every night, and other public spaces usually have live or DJ music as well.

    Sometimes I just wanted to sit and have a nice conversation or read a book, but it was too loud everywhere except my room!

    Vision Class

    Ship I’ve sailed on: Rhapsody of the Seas

    I heard so many complaints about Royal Caribbean’s Vision Class before sailing on Rhapsody of the Seas. Some people even scoffed when I mentioned I was sailing on a Vision Class ship!

    Cruising on a ship with no Royal Promenade or 15 restaurants? How could I do that to myself?

    Related: All about Vision Class cruise ships

    All jokes aside, I loved my time on Rhapsody of the Seas. It brought me back to a more classic cruise experience without the need for water slides, zip lines, and carousels. In fact, I’d put the Vision Class as my second favorite of Royal Caribbean’s ship classes.

    My itinerary to the Greek Isles on a Vision Class ship was port-intensive. The ship worked perfectly as a place to rest and unwind at the end of the day before having to wake up early for another day in port. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have had time or energy for endless onboard activities and entertainment options.

    Related: 12 differences between the big and small Royal Caribbean cruise ships

    I enjoyed the atmosphere of the Vision Class Centrum and how it connected different decks of the ship together. Much of my time onboard was spent sipping a cocktail or coffee in the Centrum while listening to live music and enjoying views of Greece in the distance.

    I also loved the family feel onboard Vision of the Seas. With far fewer passengers than a bigger cruise ship, I felt more like a guest and less like just a number.

    If you're traveling with kids, the Vision Class is probably at the bottom in terms of onboard activities, but there is still Adventure Ocean programming available as well as a rock-climbing wall and other kid-friendly activities.

    Final thoughts

    I will gladly sail on any Royal Caribbean cruise ship no matter the class. 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Symphony of the Seas? Count me in. 14-night Transatlantic on Vision of the Seas? I’ll be there.

    While I may prefer certain classes over others, the onboard experiences are often more similar than different. Hanging out at Schooner Bar on a Radiance Class ship will offer a similar experience to Schooner Bar on any other class, a pool day is a pool day no matter the ship, and the dining experience in venues like the Windjammer or Main Dining Room is pretty standard throughout the fleet.

    There’s no “perfect” cruise ship out there, and what works best for one passenger may not work as well for another. For me? I prefer looking for a unique itinerary first before even looking at the ship. Others may prefer to choose a cruise based on the ship with the itinerary as an afterthought, and that’s totally okay, too.

    If you’re wondering how to pick the best cruise ship for you, check out our other articles:

    Royal Caribbean Kids Sail Free 2022-2023 Dates & Tips

    04 Sep 2022
    Matt Hochberg

    Kids Sail Free is a promotion Royal Caribbean offers from time to time on select sailings that are usually a great vacation discount.  Throughout the year, Royal Caribbean will offer Kids Sail Free deals as a way to encourage new bookings. 

     In this post, we will cover information about the promotion, tips for booking it, and offer answers to frequently asked questions.

    For starters, Kids Sail Free is an offer Royal Caribbean offers selectively throughout the year.  It is not available all the time and there is no way to know exactly when it will be offered again. 

    We always post new cruise promotions on this site, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for notifications when a new Kids Sail Free promotion begins.

    Kids Sail Free offer details

    The exact offer details may vary, but Royal Caribbean's Kids Sail Free offers are usually consistent in their basics. Third guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on select 4 nights or longer sailings are eligible for free cruise fare.

    The "catch" with a Kids Sail Free deal are the blackout dates that prevent you from booking the promotion.

    There are usually many blackout dates associated with any Kids Sail Free offer, which means if your cruise begins on or in any of the blackout dates, the Kids Sail Free offer does not qualify. Not surprisingly, most of the black out dates are over major school holidays in the United States calendar year. 

    Here are some sample blackout dates from past Kids Sail Free offers:

    • Thanksgiving sailings departing November 18, 2022 – November 25, 2022
    • Holiday sailings departing December 22, 2022 – January 8, 2023
    • Spring break sailings departing March 10, 2023 – March 24, 2023
    • Easter sailings departing April 6, 2023 – April 16, 2023

    How often does Royal Caribbean offer Kids Sail Free?

    Best reader tips for having fun with kids on a cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

    There is no pattern to how many times a year or when the offer will become available.

    Kids Sail Free is usually available a few times throughout the year.

    Is it really free?

    Assuming your kids qualify for the deal, their cruise fare cost will be zero.

    You are still responsible for paying for the taxes and port fees associated with the children, along with any other charges onboard.  But if you look at the cruise invoice, their cruise fare will be zero. 

    Kids stuck at home? Check out these Royal Caribbean coloring sheets! | Royal Caribbean Blog

    Like all guests, a daily gratuity will be charged per passenger, including the kids.

    Be sure to check the fine print before booking to understand exactly the full price of the cruise.

    When comparing prices, it is critical to compare the exact cabin type to each other. 

    Royal Caribbean's Junior Suites: What you need to know | Royal Caribbean Blog

    Often, people will look at the price of a cabin designed for two people and then increase the amount of people in the cabin to four people, and get a different cabin category.

    The easiest cabin category to see how much money Kids Sail Free can save are suites because most suites can accommodate up to 4 people all the time. Not to mention the per-person savings in a suite will be significantly higher than in lower cabins.

    Kids Sail Free dates

    Last updated September 5, 2022

    Royal Caribbean is not offering Kids Sail Free at this time. It last offered it during the month of August 2022.

    The offer ran between August 1 – 31, 2022 on sailings departing on or after September 2, 2022 – May 25, 2023.

    It provided free cruise fare for third guests and higher who are 12 years old and younger as of departure date on sailings 3 nights or longer booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom.

    Kids Sail Free excludes Thanksgiving sailings departing November 18, 2022 – November 25, 2022, Holiday sailings departing December 18, 2022 – January 6, 2023, Spring break sailings departing March 10, 2023 – March 24, 2023, Holy Week/Easter sailings departing April 1, 2023 – April 11, 2023 and Rhapsody of the Seas sailings departing from Haifa, Israel between August 5 – October 28, 2022. 

    Taxes, fees, and port expenses are additional and apply to all guests.

    Kids Sail For Less

    Best reader tips for having fun with kids on a cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

    In addition to the Kids Sail Free offer, Royal Caribbean may also offer the Kids Sail For Less offer, which is typically 25-30% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.

    The primary advantage of Kids Sail For Less is there are no blackout dates associated with Kids Sail For Less.  This means if you have a couple of kids in your stateroom, you receive a discount on them. 

    Moreover, Kids Sail For Less often does not have age restrictions in place, so really any guest of any age who is a third guest, fourth guest, fifth guest, et al in the same stateroom as the first two guests can get a discount.

    Other cruising with kids posts & resources

    If you are interested in the Kids Sail Free offer, then you probably will find these blog posts equally helpful:

    Your thoughts

    Now, we want to hear from you.  Are you a fan of the Kids Sail Free promotion?  Have any tips for someone looking to cruise with kids?  Is there a better deal for families in your opinion? Let us know what you think of the promotion and whether you are planning on taking advantage of it in the comments!