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Royal Caribbean teases new features coming to Icon of the Seas

22 Sep 2022
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean released a new teaser video that didn't reveal everything about its next new ship, but it did provide more of a glimpse of what to expect.

Icon of the Seas construction photo

Icon of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean's first in a new class of cruise ships and they still have not shown what the ship looks like, nor confirmed features onboard.  But they have steadily offered brief glimpses of what we might expect.

The newest video teaser was released today, where eagle-eyed viewers might spot a few features that seem to point towards what guests can expect onboard.

Here's what we found in the 7 minute video that stands out as interesting, intriguing, or just plain wow.

Infinite verandahs

Royal Caribbean is borrowing a feature first seen on sister brand Celebrity Cruises with the design of some or all of its balcony staterooms.

While not mentioned, the video did clearly show a new type of balcony stateroom that offers a convertible indoor/outdoor space.

Sister company Celebrity Cruises debuted the infinite verandah on the Edge Class ships.

Infinite Verandah on Celebrity Edge

Celebrity’s design team sought to solve that problem by creating a versatile area that could transform from a balcony into a sun room fully enclosed within your cabin. These cabins are excellent for cruisers on colder-weather itineraries, or who want the option of fresh air but don’t tend to spend much time on their balcony.

With an infinite veranda, there is no permanent wall between the cabin and the balcony. Instead, the balcony area is enclosed on its outer edges with glass windows; the one facing the sea can roll down just like a car window at the touch of a button. 

Accordion-fold doors can be closed to separate the open-to-the-air “veranda” from the cabin interior.

When not in use, roll up the windows, open the doors, and you have a roomier cabin with a sunny seating area at one end.

The inclusion of these types of cabins is not a surprise, as Royal Caribbean first surveyed customers about the idea back in 2018. Then in 2019, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley confirmed that the cruise line is looking at bringing the Infinite Veranda idea over to Royal Caribbean.

“Edge has a lot of innovation. We need time to assess what works well and what doesn’t but we will take on some elements and put them on the new class of ship – Icon class and potentially Oasis 5."

Later in the video, more traditional balcony cabins were shown as well.

Central Park

Something else we've all assumed was coming and now appears to be all but confirmed is a Central Park area of the ship.

First introduced on the Oasis Class ships, this open air part of the ship has trees, bushes, and lots of plants to help liven up things.

Looking at construction photos, it appears a space was left for a Central Park neighborhood based on the look of the area matching up with the Oasis Class.

While at Royal Caribbean's Innovation Lab in Miami, the video showed executives seeing a virtual reality view of what looks like Central Park on Icon of the Seas.

Of course, the video did not specifically mention it so it's not confirmed.  But the similarities are uncanny.

Big ship name

Icon of the Seas will follow in the new style of a larger sizing of the ship's name on the hull.

Both Odyssey of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas made the change to the larger ship name look on its hull.

In the case of Odyssey of the Seas, the "O" alone measures 11.2 meters (36 feet) in height.


Once again, we have a look at The Pearl on Icon of the Seas and still have no idea what it is.

This time, we not only saw exterior photos, but also got a look at some of the panels.

In January 2022, a large pearl-shaped object appeared in the shipyard that capture the attention of cruise fans who are curious to know what it might be.

Royal Caribbean has not announced what it will be, but it is going to be a feature on Icon of the Seas.

"More water and weight than ever before"

Icon of the Seas 2023

Let your imagination run wild with the teaser at the end of the video about water weight.

The narrator mentions, " and where will the teams add more water and weight than ever before."

In the last video update, Royal Caribbean said Icon of the Seas will feature, "unrivalled water experiences."

Watch the video

When does Icon of the Seas launch?

Icon of the Seas bow construction

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

By December, Icon of the Seas will be 80% complete from a construction perspective.

In the video it was disclosed there's about 3,000 people working on the ship every day.

More information on Icon of the Seas and a big reveal is slated for October 2022.

Royal Caribbean updates: CocoCay adults beach construction, Icon of the Seas sale date & more

21 Sep 2022
Matt Hochberg

Cruise news has been a bit slow lately, but we have a few important tidbits and updates to share.

Ship at CocoCay

In order to keep everyone informed, here's a look at various pieces of news that have crossed my desk during the past week.

If you ever have a news tip, feel free to email it to [email protected] for possible inclusion in a future update!

Icon of the Seas will go on sale in October?

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

While we may not know anything yet about Icon of the Seas, a lot of people are ready to book a cruise on her anyway.

It looks like bookings might open up for Royal Caribbean's new cruise ship in October.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from August 2022

According to a travel agent that was on an update call, "mid-October" is the time when bookings will open up.

From what I understand, Royal Caribbean National Account Sales Manager Joseph Casal, told agents on the call Icon of the Seas is expected to open for bookings in mid-October.

Hideaway Beach construction photos

It's been a while since we shared construction photos of the new adults-only beach area coming to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Steve Cohen took photos of the area while sailing on Harmony of the Seas.

He said while no buildings are under construction, a lot more trailers and construction equipment has moved in since the last time he was there.

Dr. Pepper on Texas cruises

Galveston cruise terminal construction

If you love Dr. Pepper soda, you'll have to cruise from Texas in order to enjoy it on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Travel agents on a webinar call on Wednesday were told cruises sailing from Galveston will soon serve Dr. Pepper in addition to the Coke products the line always carries.

Dr. Pepper is a soda brand based in Texas and due to local demand, Royal Caribbean will begin serving it as well.

No timeline was given on when it will begin being offered, but the information was shared with the context of Allure of the Seas and the new cruise terminal opening in November.

Icon of Vacations

One more Icon of the Seas update comes in the form a trademark filing.

Royal Caribbean Group filed a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on September 15, 2022.

The trademark is for, "Icon of Vacations" which sounds like a marketing slogan tied to the new Icon of the Seas cruise ship.


Royal Caribbean plans to hire over 1,400 new entertainers for its cruise ships

21 Sep 2022
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has always emphasized the importance of live entertainment on its cruise ships, and it plans to expand that commitment with a host of new hires.

Starwater on Quantum of the Seas

The cruise line announced a new plan that will open up more than one thousands new positions to fill.

In the next year, Royal Caribbean will look to hire more than 1,400 musicians, entertainers and production teams across the entire fleet. These new hires will join it's 3,000-plus cast members and production staff.

Not only will the new hiring's augment the existing fleet of 26 cruise ships, but some will be hired to work on Icon of the Seas when she launches in 2023.

AquaTheater on Wonder of the Seas

Royal Caribbean hopes to fill roles for artists and behind-the-scenes teams to bring to life entertainment experiences across original and West End productions, music performances, ice skating shows, high diving and acrobatic feats, and much more.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President of Entertainment, Nick Weir, talked about the importance of hiring new entertainers, "Music and entertainment are essential to making Royal Caribbean holidays memorable."

Theater on Mariner of the Seas

"We keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible in entertainment in front of 105,000 guests each night, and the choice of career opportunities available to entertainment professionals is in the thousands. To continue raising the bar, we are expanding our incredibly talented roster of world-class vocalists, Olympic athletes, Broadway and West End stars, acclaimed producers and directors, to name a few."

We are also committing more resources than ever before to music and entertainment for 2023."

Helping the industry

Royal Caribbean dancers

Royal Caribbean not only needs to hire new employees as a way to staff their ships, but they see this as an opportunity to help an industry still struggling to get back to full operation.

According to a report by Help Musicians in January 2022, seventy-five percent of musicians worried about their financial situation at least once a day, and a quarter of them considered leaving their profession altogether.

Technician for Royal Caribbean show

The survey was conducted in partnership with Censuswide and surveyed 3,000 emerging musicians and 4,500 music-loving consumers in U.K., Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Norway. Highlights include:

  • Eighty percent of Europe’s emerging musicians said that live performances are what they are most excited about in 2022.
  • Seventy percent noted that performing for live audiences is the most rewarding part of their work.
  • More than 35% of them said travelling and seeing new destinations is what they are most excited to do in 2022.
  • A total of 68% of Europe’s music-loving consumers said that live music makes them feel at their happiest.
  • One-third of consumers also said that live music was what they were most excited about in 2022.
  • Eighty-five percent of people associate their best holiday memories with a music track, and 67% said that music and entertainment is important when choosing their next holiday.
Royal Caribbean dancer

As many as 25,000 performers from across the world audition for Royal Caribbean every year, with many training at its 132,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art entertainment studio facility in Miami. 

What getting hired by Royal Caribbean means to a performer

Effectors 2

Rachael Hudson works on Wonder of the Seas in the Royal Caribbean original production “Effectors II: Crash ‘n’ Burn”, and has been employed by the cruise line for more than five years.

She has been a featured singer on Explorer of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, and Quantum of the Seas.

“In our industry, the opportunity to perform live and hone your skills every day is so rare, and I am truly able to build a career at Royal Caribbean."

Production studio

"I work alongside the world’s most experienced producers, choreographers and coaches in the business while travelling to amazing places like Miami, The Bahamas and Rome."

"After the last few years, it is incredible to be back performing live in front of audiences from all over the world.”

Ultimate Mexico Cruise Guide

21 Sep 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

Mexico is one of the world’s most common places to visit on a cruise ship, and odds are if you cruise enough, you’ll find yourself visiting the country at one point or another.

Cozumel sign in port

Royal Caribbean offers cruises to Mexico year-round on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides of the country, with itineraries between 4-7+ nights on both big and small cruise ships.

In this guide, we’ll review the top tips & tricks to know before your Mexico cruise to help you plan the best cruise vacation possible.

In this guide:

Why go on a cruise to Mexico

Ancient history

History lovers will relish the opportunity to visit Mayan ruins in Mexico’s Caribbean ports. The Yucatán Peninsula is home to around 200 public ruins, including the well-preserved Chichén Itzá ruins.

Amazing cuisine

One of the first things that comes to mind when planning a cruise to Mexico is the food. Whether tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, guacamole, salsas, or churros, your taste buds are sure to be satisfied in Mexico.

Diverse Nature

Regardless of whether you’re cruising the Caribbean side of Mexico or the Mexican Riviera, you’ll find plenty of nature to discover. From cenotes to jungles, lagoons, and coral reefs, Mexico offers plenty of natural beauty to enjoy on a cruise vacation.

Established tourism

Mexico is no stranger to tourism, and the influx of both land-based and cruise tourists every year means that the country is well-acquainted with catering to tourists.

You surely won’t have trouble finding tour operators, day passes at resorts, and cultural opportunities to seek out during your day in port.

Caribbean Mexico vs Mexican Riviera

Oasis of the Seas in Cozumel

Royal Caribbean offers cruises to two distinct areas of Mexico: the Caribbean side of Mexico and the Mexican Riviera.

Caribbean Mexico

Most cruises to Mexico visit the country’s Caribbean coastline along the Yucatán Peninsula. When you picture a vacation to Mexico, you’re likely picturing the turquoise water and resort-lined beaches of the Caribbean, and that’s exactly what you can find on a cruise to Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Mexican Riviera

Cabo San Lucas Arch

The Mexican Riviera refers to cruise ports on the western coast of Mexico along the Pacific ocean. This side of Mexico is drier and more mountainous than the Caribbean side and is home to many of Mexico’s most popular resort towns like Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.

Cruises to the Mexican Riviera depart from the Port of Los Angeles on Navigator of the Seas. Some repositioning cruises will also make stops at Mexican Riviera cruise ports.

Related: Mexican Riviera cruse guide

Mexico cruise ports


Ship in Cozumel

Cozumel is an island located off the eastern coast of the Yucatán peninsula known for its tropical, lush environment, beaches, and water recreation (scuba diving and snorkeling).

Cozumel is regarded as one of the premiere scuba diving locations in the world, as it’s located near the Mesoamerican reef system, the second-largest reef on Earth.

Visitors to Cozumel will find no shortage of tours taking guests to nearby resorts, coral reefs, and beaches.

Costa Maya

Costa Maya is another commonly visited port on Mexico’s Caribbean cruise itineraries and offers a classic Mexican vacation experience: beaches, Mayan ruins, tasty cuisine, and all-inclusive day passes are at your fingertips.

The immediate port area of Costa Maya is well-developed and has a complimentary swimming pool, restaurants, bars, cafe, ice cream, and shopping opportunities.

Outside the port of Costa Maya is the small town of Mahahual. Visitors hoping to get a more local feel for Mexico’s culture should make the short trip to Mahahual and walk the town’s boardwalk, where they’ll find locally owned and operated beach resorts, restaurants, cafes, and more.

Yucatán (Progreso)

The port of Progreso is located on the northern side of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Like other ports on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, Progreso offers beaches and Mayan culture mixed with the chance to discover the country's modern culture and cuisine. 

Progreso offers the easiest access to the world-famous Chichén Itzá ruins, so many visitors book a tour to visit this Wonder of the World while in port. Other activities in Progreso include visiting cenotes, taking a cooking class, and tasting local spirits and beers.



Located just 2 hours driving distance from San Diego, Ensenada is located on the coast of Baja California and is a common stop on short, 3 and 4-night cruises from Los Angeles.

Ensenada is arid and mountainous and is located a short distance away from Valle de Guadalupe, known as the “Napa Valley of Mexico”. Other than wine tastings, visitors to Ensenada can walk around the city streets, take a tour to La Bufadora blowhole, go horseback riding on the beach, and taste local cuisine.

Related: Top 10 things to do in Ensenada, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas is located at the southernmost point of Baja California and is an extremely popular tourist destination known for its party atmosphere.

The most famous landmark in Cabo San Lucas is Land’s End, a rock formation marking the point at which the Pacific Ocean meets the Gulf of California. The port is also known for fantastic whale watching opportunities.

Related: Top 10 things to do in Cabo San Lucas

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is one of the busiest resort towns in Mexico and offers a mix of calm beaches and historic city streets. The town is known for its Zona Romántica neighborhood, a charming area of the city with bars, restaurants, and shopping.

Most visitors will opt for a beach day in Puerto Vallarta, whether by spending the day at an all-inclusive resort or booking a catamaran tour in the Bay of Banderas.

Related: Top 10 things to do in Puerto Vallarta


Mazatlan El Faro

Mazatlán is home to 500,000 people, making it the largest port visited on a Mexican Riviera cruise. Mazatlán’s Old Town is a main attraction for visitors, and the walkable, cobblestoned neighborhood boasts museums, restaurants, cathedrals, and plazas to discover.

Beach days are common in Mazatlán, too, and many visitors choose to take a trip to nearby Stone Island to soak in the sun. If you’re feeling active, consider a stroll down Mazatlán’s boardwalk, which spans around 13 miles on the waterfront.

Related: Top 10 things to do in Mazatlán

Other Mexico cruise ports

Royal Caribbean ships occasionally make port visits to other towns along the Mexican Riviera, such as Huatulco and Manzanillo, but these are infrequent.

Best time of year for a Mexico cruise

Caribbean ports

Mexico’s Caribbean cruise ports stay warm year-round, so you can have a perfect beach day whether it’s January or August. However, there are a few considerations to make before picking the date of your cruise.

More comfortable, drier weather can be found from October to April as opposed to the higher, more humid conditions found in the summer months. You may still encounter rain, but it will be less frequent. These are generally considered the best months for a cruise to Mexico.

Related: The best time to go on a Caribbean cruise

Additionally, cruising during the fall and winter months can be better for those passengers planning to explore Mayan ruins or have other active adventures while in port, as the temperatures won’t be as uncomfortably hot as in the summer.

Cruising to Mexico’s Caribbean ports during the summer season (May to September) will still offer a fantastic cruise experience, but be prepared for higher temperatures and more rain.

Mexican Riviera ports

Mexico’s Pacific coast can encounter more varying temperatures compared to the Caribbean coast.

Expect temperatures with highs in the mid 70s to low 80s in ports like Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta during the winter months. This is also the dry season, running from November through June.

Springtime and summer bring temperatures in the mid 80s, although temperatures can occasionally rise to the low 90s in Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán. Expect more rain from late July through October, with most rainfall in August and September.

Mornings and evenings can feel crisp onboard when sailing through the Pacific ocean on a Mexican Riviera cruise at any time of year.

Related: When is the best time to cruise the Mexican Riviera?

What to do on a cruise to Mexico

All-inclusive day passes to resorts

One of the most raved about activities on a cruise to Mexico is spending the day at an all-inclusive beach club or resort.

These all-inclusive packages are found throughout Mexico’s cruise ports and typically include unlimited food, beverages (including alcoholic beverages), beach chairs and umbrellas, and beach access. Some resorts may also have a swimming pool available whereas others may rent water sport equipment to visitors.

Check out our top recommendations and reviews for day passes in Mexico:

Visit Mayan ruins

Cruising to Mexico offers the perfect opportunity to visit Mayan Ruins. Both Royal Caribbean and independent tour operators offer excursions to various archaeological sites accessible from the ports of Cozumel, Progreso, and Costa Maya.

Costa Maya is located only an hour away from the Chachobben Mayan ruins and 2 hours from the Kohunlich and Dzibanche Mayan ruins, making visiting these impressive archaeological sites a popular activity for visitors.

Related: Excursion Focus: Chacchoben Ruins in Costa Maya

Immerse in local cuisine

While tasting local cuisine will surely be delightful, there are a few tours offered in Mexico where you can immerse yourself in the country’s culinary traditions.

Many cruisers rave about the “Salsa, Salsa, and Margaritas” shore excursion, during which you learn how to make various types of salsas, guacamole, and margaritas.

If you have a sweet tooth, consider a visit to the Mayan Cacao Company, where you’ll be able to learn more about the history and process of making chocolate and indulge in some artisanal chocolate yourself!

If booking a tour doesn’t interest you, you’ll find plenty of other ways to explore Mexico’s culinary scene, from chic restaurants to street food.

Scuba diving (or snorkeling)

Mexico’s Caribbean coast is known for having some of the best scuba diving in the world. Anyone interested in exploring the underwater world up close will have plenty of opportunities to do so on a cruise to Mexico.

If you don’t have a scuba diving certification, consider a Snuba or Discover Scuba excursion. These diving excursions are beginner-friendly yet you’ll still be able to explore coral reefs and other marine life.

Related: Excursion Focus: Discover Scuba Diving experience

Visit Pueblos Mágicos

Located throughout Mexico are 132 pueblos mágicos (magic towns), which are small towns admired for their intricate architecture, natural beauty, history, and traditions.

Several pueblos mágicos are located near cruise ports like Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta. If you’re looking for a unique experience far from the hustle and bustle of a busy port, consider a day tour that visits small towns like San Jose del Cabo and Sayulita for a relaxing and culturally enriching experience.

Shop at local markets

One of the most fun activities to do on a cruise to Mexico is also one of the most budget-friendly: shopping at local markets.

Many Mexican cruise ports will have a local market nearby where residents can purchase produce, meats, cheeses, home goods, and more. Walking through a market in Mexico will ignite all your senses, from the savory smell of tacos at a food stand to sweet breads from a pastry shop.

Which Royal Caribbean ships sail to Mexico?

Harmony of the Seas in Barcelona

Because Mexico is such a common country to visit on a cruise, the majority of Royal Caribbean’s fleet visits Mexico at one point or another during the year.

You’ll find everything from Royal Caribbean’s smallest Vision Class cruise ships to the largest cruise ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas, sailing to the Caribbean side of Mexico.

Navigator of the Seas is the only ship offering cruises to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles.

If you’re planning a cruise to Mexico and struggling to decide which cruise ship to book, check out our helpful guides on picking the best ship for your vacation:

How much does a cruise to Mexico cost?

Junior Suite on Symphony of the Seas

You'll find a wide range of Mexico cruise itineraries, from short 4-night sailings to week-long cruises and repositioning itineraries. Prices vary greatly, but there is a Mexico cruise to fit any budget.

If you’re schedule is flexible and you can travel during the off-season (anytime kids are in school), you can find some great cruise deals to Mexico.

Here are a few sample prices for what you may pay during the off-season. These prices are for 2 adults in an interior stateroom, including taxes and fees:

  • Navigator of the Seas - 3 night Ensenada cruise: $481 total
  • Adventure of the Seas - 5 night Western Caribbean cruise: $673 total
  • Oasis of the Seas - 7 night Western Caribbean cruise: $1367 total
Oasis of the Seas next to Liberty of the Seas in Cozumel

Expect prices to be several hundred dollars more expensive during peak times of year, especially if you’re planning a cruise during the holiday season.

7-night Western Caribbean cruises on an Oasis Class ship during the summer months, for example, can be over $2300 for two adults in an interior stateroom.

Related: Which family cruise can you book for $2000?

Tulum beach in Mexico

Outside of cruise fare, you’ll want to budget for the following additional costs:

  • Gratuities ($16 per person, per day in interior, ocean view, or balcony staterooms)
  • Transportation (airfare or gas, parking, etc.)
  • Hotel the night before your cruise
  • Shore excursions
  • Cruise add-ons (drink packages, dining packages, etc.)

Do I need to bring pesos on a Mexico cruise?

The official currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXP). While visiting the country on a cruise, you'll find that USD is universally accepted, although you will typically receive change back in pesos.

There's no need to take Mexican Pesos out of an ATM or currency exchange prior to a Mexico cruise. While you might not always receive the standard exchange rate when paying in USD, saving a few dollars here and there is usually not worth the hassle of bringing pesos.

What to bring on a Mexico cruise

Packing for a Mexico cruise to the Caribbean means bringing your favorite summer clothes: shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, sandals, a swimsuit, and a sun hat. 

You’ll also want to pack clothes to wear onboard your cruise ship, including nicer outfits for formal night and other evening activities, along with pajamas and loungewear.

Related: What to wear on a cruise formal night

While rare on the Caribbean side of Mexico, it can get chilly on a Mexican Riviera cruise. Be sure to pack a few clothing items to keep you warm, like a pair of jeans and light jacket.

For more in-depth packing information for your Mexico cruise, read our article on the Ultimate Cruise Packing List.

Planning a cruise? Check out our other Ultimate Guides to some of the world’s best cruising destinations:

What is the best way to spend an extra $1,000 on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

20 Sep 2022
Matt Hochberg

You've got a great Royal Caribbean cruise booked, so what's the best way to splurge to plus the vacation?

Cruise vacations are a fun tradition for many families, and part of the fun of a holiday is treating yourself to things and experiences you wouldn't do at home.

Certainly there are a lot of ways to budget for an affordable trip, but what if you want to splurge? What are the best ways to spend some extra money, such as $1,000 on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

There are a lot of different things you can spend your money on during a cruise: dining, shore excursions, staterooms, drinks and plenty more.

Couple at Mason Jar

While I've shared many ways to save money and make your vacation budget stretch over the years, there are plenty of times people want to spend extra on their vacation to make it more special.  Perhaps it's an anniversary, honeymoon, graduation gift, or something else celebratory. If you fall into this category, there are definitely quite a few ways to put your money to use on Royal Caribbean.

Even if you're not looking to "make it rain" with cash, these tips could still help those out on a budget because it can illustrate the best ways to spend your money and make it go further. After all, you might be surprised the difference one thousand dollars can make.

Moving up to a suite

Grand Suite on Freedom

I think a lot of people think about their cruise cabin first when thinking about ways to spend more on a cruise.

Moving up to a larger balcony, especially a suite, means more living space and more amenities during your cruise. Suites include some of the best perks you'll get onboard, short of hitting the top tier of Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society loyalty program.

 Suite Concierge

The suite concierge is a dedicated resource exclusively for suite guests that provides a lot of services to you, some of which are unavailable to other guests.

Read more10 Surprising things you didn't know the Royal Caribbean concierge can do for you

Then there's the special areas of the ship being in a suite gets you, such as the suite sun deck (or reserved seating at the pool deck) and suite lounge.

Speaking of the suite lounge, you'll enjoy complimentary alcoholic beverages each evening in the suite lounge, which will return some value for the money spent to move up to a suite.

The caveat to spending your $1,000 on a suite is sometimes it may not be enough to move up. Depending on your group size, sail date, and ship, the cost to move up to suite may exceed the budget you have to spend, but if it's in the cards, a suite is tough to beat as a binge.

Making your cruise nearly all-inclusive

Couple at Bar on Wonder of the Seas

They say "money can't buy you happiness" but it sure can buy you a lot of unlimited add-ons which should help keep you happy.

Royal Caribbean sells various extra packages to its guests as an optional way to cap and include certain popular add-ons.

This includes a Royal Caribbean drink package, specialty dining package, or a photo package.

Mason Jar restaurant

Each of these will include as many drinks, specialty restaurants and photos as you can handle on your cruise. As the name implies, each of these truly is unlimited, so you can go through your cruise not worrying what your final bill will be at the end of the cruise. The peace of mind that comes with these unlimited packages is a major relief.

Depending on the length of your cruise and how many people are in your group, $1,000 might not cover all three of these add-ons. The drink package alone often costs hundreds of dollars for a 7-night cruise with just two adults.

A way to still enjoy these popular add-ons at less of a cost is to purchase one of their lesser packages. The Royal Refreshment or Soda packages are significantly cheaper than the Deluxe Beverage package because it does not include alcohol. The 3-night dining package is going to cost less than the unlimited option. Ditto for a fixed photo package.

Whichever add-ons you buy, there is a tremendous amount of value you can unlock from them.

Read moreWhat's worth paying extra for on a cruise?

The Key

While I don't recommend Royal Caribbean's VIP add-on program as a must-buy for everyone, if you're spending a grand anyway, it's not the worst investment.

Read moreCounterpoint: why we love The Key

The Key is an option Royal Caribbean provides guests with special perks and access while onboard.

Water slides

Internet access, early check-in, special times at signature attractions and more are included with The Key.

Having The Key removes anxiety and stress primarily at the beginning and end of the cruise, which is worth something to a lot of cruisers (especially first-timers).

You'll have to buy The Key for everyone in your cabin that is at least 6 years old, but it's likely your $1,000 should cover the entirety of your group.

If you do purchase The Key, be sure to take advantage of everything it offers so you can maximize its value.

Cabana rental

Family in a Cabana

Ever since I tried a cabana for the first time at one of Royal Caribbean's private islands, I've been hooked on this optional purchase.

There are cabanas to rent at Perfect Day at CocoCay or Labadee and they come at various prices.

The reason a cabana rental could be the right choice for your money is it provides lavish benefits during your visit to either of these destinations. For families with kids, having shade, food and drink service, and a base of operations for the day really makes a difference.

Labadee barefoot beach cabana

There's plenty of seating around both CocoCay and Labadee, but the couch and loungers that come with a cabana are lovely.

The waiter service also makes it extra enjoyable so you don't have to flag down anyone and there's prompt service too. I especially love the CocoCay cabanas will deliver lunch to your cabana.

Behind-the-scenes tour

All Access tour badge

How about spending your extra money on something most guests will never see?

Royal Caribbean has brought back the behind-the-scenes tours, and they are really interesting and fun to take.

The All Access Tour is a 2-hour walking tour of many areas of the ship that will take you to the bridge, engine control room, laundry room, galley and more. The goal is to show you areas you'd never see and get a better understanding of how much work goes on to keep the ship functional and optimal.

Navigator bridge

A lot of us wonder what goes into making a cruise ship work so well. It's insightful to see how a ship works, and if you've ever been curious about a cruise ship functions, then this is the tour for you.

More than likely this tour won't blow through your entire $1,000 budget, which will leave you with extra cash for something else.

If you're looking to save $1,000

These extras all sound nice, but what if you'd rather save $1,000 instead of spending it?

If you're looking to cut back on spending on a Royal Caribbean cruise, there are a few different things you can do to keep more money in your pocket for perhaps one of the splurges mentioned in this post.

First and foremost, work with a good travel agent that specializes in cruise vacations so you can take advantage of every discount offered. Did you know there are discounts for residents of certain states or countries? Discounts for active and retired military? Discounts if you're a senior citizen? Money off balcony rooms if you are Platinum or above in Crown and Anchor Society? Interline discounts?

Not only can a travel agent find all the discounts, but their agency or consortia may offer special rates that you would otherwise never know about if you booked on your own. 

Read moreTop things you didn't know travel agents can do for your cruise vacation

If you live in the United States, Canada, or Australia, you can also take advantage of re-pricing if there's a price drop. This strategy has saved me the most money over the years, and it's all thanks to my wonderful travel agent.

Ovation of the Seas in Hubbard glacier

It's equally important if you want to shave lots of money off your cruise by booking a cruise during certain times of the year.

Known as "the shoulder season", these are times of the year when cruise prices are a fraction of what they usually cost. Sail the Caribbean in September, Alaska in May, or Europe in October to find incredibly low rates.

Freedom of the Seas aerial at CocoCay

In addition to time of the year, you'll spend far less if you skip the new ships. Instead of sailing on Wonder of the Seas or Odyssey of the Seas, take a cruise on Mariner of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, or Freedom of the Seas. These ships are older, but were recently amplified with new features and are a great choice for families.

There's also plenty of waves to cut costs, such as bring your own wine or non-alcoholic drinks onboard.

Read more45 ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise

New aerial photos show off Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas construction progress

19 Sep 2022
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship is under construction in a shipyard in Finland, and we have a new look at what it looks like now.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

Because Royal Caribbean has not shared what Icon of the Seas will look like when complete, cruise fans can only guess what the final product will entail, including features onboard.

The cruise line is likely to reveal more details about Icon of the Seas soon, but there remains significant intrigue surrounding the ship.

In an effort to keep our readers up to date, RoyalCaribbeanBlog commissioned its own aerial drone photos to share what we can see so far from the shipyard.

Since these are exclusive photos, please do not redistribute these photos. Feel free to share a link to this article instead.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

These photos were taken on September 19, 2022 with an eye at the progress being made.

Icon of the Seas is being built at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, and has been under construction since June 2021.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022
Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

Compared to construction photos from last month, there has been noticeable progress made in the ship's height, with new decks added.

The aft section on the starboard side is reminiscent of the aft AquaTheater decks found on the Oasis Class ships with the rounded ends.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022
Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022
Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022
Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

More progress has been made just behind the ship on what could be a part of the ship's front, which theoretically would be hoisted and installed later to the front.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

Looking at the top of the deck, we see what look like support columns towards the rear.  Perhaps supports for a water slide?

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

Elevated photos reveal a cavernous middle to the ship, which is an area likely to be similar to the Central Park neighborhood found on Oasis Class ships.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022
Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022
Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

Moving to the front of the ship, there appears to be stadium-style seating in the middle.  Traditionally, Royal Caribbean places its theaters in the front of the ship, but this appears to be on a much higher deck than where the Royal Theater is located.

Since Royal Caribbean has not announced new features for Icon of the Seas, we can only speculate as to what things might be.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

This aerial photo shows the bow nose piece has been installed.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022
Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022
Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from September 2022

Icon will be the first Royal Caribbean ship to feature a parabolic bow design.

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

Icon of the Seas is scheduled to start sailing in late 2023.

Royal Caribbean's series of video updates has promised a new video update sometime this month, but the September update has not been shared yet.

Starlink added to first cruise ship since Royal Caribbean signed deal with SpaceX

19 Sep 2022
Matt Hochberg

It appears Starlink is up and running on at least one Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Independence of the Seas as seen from tender

Royal Caribbean has not announced a roll out plan since posting the news that it has signed a deal with SpaceX to provide Starlink internet on all of its ships, but cruise fans have started noticing changes.

Over the last couple of weeks, teams across different Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been deployed to install Starlink.

It looks as though Independence of the Seas may be the first ship to get the proverbial switch turned on.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Jeff Robinson noticed on the weekend sailing of Independence of the Seas that concluded on Monday the speed tests showed Starlink active.

Independence of the Seas is currently sailing 3- and 4-night short cruises to the Bahamas.

The plan is for every single cruise ship in the Royal Caribbean Group to get Starlink added by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Other cruise guests have confirmed Starlink is being added on Enchantment, Liberty, and Allure of the Seas. Other ships could also be in the process of getting Starlink as well.

Speed tests from Independence of the Seas

With Starlink apparently active on Independence of the Seas, I was curious to see how well it performed.

I asked Mr. Robinson to conduct a couple of speed tests just to get some raw numbers. Keep in mind these tests were conducted on a cloudy day, which could impact speed results.


The most important number here is not actually the upload or download speed, but rather the latency.

The ping is the reaction time of your connection–how fast you get a response after you've sent out a request. Pre-Starlink, ping was usually quite bad, with times measured in the hundreds of milliseconds. A fast ping means a more responsive connection

The sub-100 ping is fantastic.  My cell phone test at home had a ping of 65 milliseconds, which is very close to the Starlink speed.

Allure of the Seas next?

As stated, Royal Caribbean has not released any kind of roll out schedule, so we're left to figure it out on our own when each ship might get Starlink.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Michael Fenstermaker shared a report from onboard Allure of the Seas on Sunday, claiming the team there is nearly complete with their work.

"The Starlink team nearing completion of the antenna installation on the Allure of the Seas," Mr. Fenstermaker said in a tweet.

What you can do with Starlink

Starlink logo

The promise of better internet means better performance for everything you do online while on the ship.

Royal Caribbean says the new service will improve and enable more high-bandwidth activities like video streaming as well as activities like video calls.

Starlink is an interconnected internet network of thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit that SpaceX envisions will deliver high-speed internet anywhere on the planet. The company has launched about 2,700 satellites to date.

How much will wifi with Starlink cost?

ebook reader

Royal Caribbean has not announced any price changes yet to its wifi packages.

For the Independence of the Seas cruise, the internet package costs for guests were the same as before.

The cruise line has not confirmed or denied any updates are coming to wifi pricing.

When asked, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said, "We plan to share details with guests, crew and travelers soon."

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: September 18, 2022

18 Sep 2022
Matt Hochberg

Welcome to this week's edition of the Royal Caribbean post round-up, where we summarize all of the Royal Caribbean news and information from this week into one handy-dandy post! There is plenty of great content to enjoy, so sit back, relax, and enjoy this week's round-up!

Did you know about all the really common and simple mistakes you can avoid on a cruise ship?

Side of Quantum of the Seas

While there are plenty of mistakes to avoid that new cruisers probably have no clue about without learning first-hand about them, there's also a handful of mistakes that don't require years of cruise experience to identify as a fault.

Consider this a refresher for what not to do in order to cover all your bases and not succumb to an easy first-time cruiser mistake.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 468th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Matt answers emails listeners have sent in.

This week's podcast episode is dedicated to just answering questions and comments our podcast listeners have submitted.

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

Video: Royal Caribbean drink package vs. Diamond Drinks!

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: Royal Caribbean drink package vs. Diamond Drinks!

25 examples of crew members wowing passengers

Royal Caribbean's crew members are known for their excellent service and it's very common for them to go above and beyond what's expected.

The more you cruise, the more likely you will run into an exceptional crew member who really cares about an issue or request you have while onboard. 

I asked the RoyalCaribbeanBlog community to share examples of times that Royal Caribbean staff have gone above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service for their family while sailing.

13 ways to get the best cruise deals

Perfect Storm waterslides on Wonder of the Seas

Want to save money on a cruise, or do you want to get the lowest possible price on a cruise?

The key to finding a great cruise deal is to know where and when to look.

No matter the time of year, these tricks should get you a great price so you can maximize every dollar of your vacation budget.

Cruise ship shore excursions I instantly regretted

Every now and then I'll take a shore excursion and realize I've made a mistake.

I've usually had good luck with choosing a tour, but occasionally I'll run into one that makes me wish I had chosen something different.

Here are five times I took a cruise ship shore excursion and reconsidered my decision almost immediately.

5 cruise ship shore excursions I tried and instantly regretted

17 Sep 2022
Matt Hochberg

There have been a few shore excursions I've taken over the years that I would love to get my time and money back.

Mr Sanchos in Cozumel

Shore excursions are a major part of any cruise vacation because the ports of call a cruise ship visits is an extension of the overall trip. Each day you visit a new port and there's just enough time to get a taste of what that city, island, or country has to offer.

I've usually had good luck with choosing a tour, as I've learned the sort of things I like and don't like to do. But once in a while, I run into a dud and realize I've made a mistake.

Sometimes the issue is subjective because I personally don't care for the type of tour offered or something else just isn't my cup of tea.

Other times, I felt the tour just didn't measure up to expectations. In any case, it left me wishing I had done something else.

Here are five times I took a cruise ship shore excursion and reconsidered my decision making almost immediately.

Blue Waters Beach Escape in Falmouth

Ever since Royal Caribbean started visiting Falmouth, Jamaica, I've struggled to find a great go-to shore excursion.

Part of the issue is Falmouth is a relatively new cruise port and there aren't a lot of attractions nearby, which means you need a long bus trip to get to the great stuff.

On one visit in 2016, I thought to heck with spending an hour or more on a bus, we'll go to the beach and enjoy the Caribbean waters because how bad could it be?

We tried Blue Waters Beach Escape that I booked through Royal Caribbean and it reinforced one of the most common issues a person can have on a tour booked through the cruise line: an oversold and underwhelming experience.

While bus ride was short to the beach (about 10 minutes), we found a ton of other tours had beaten us here, which left very little seating.  

Some guests who arrived after us had no chairs available and had to settle for beach chair mats until chairs were freed up by departing guests.  The shore excursion title says, "An exclusive Blue Waters Beach Escape", but clearly this was not as exclusive as one may have thought.

On top of that, the food offered by the beach's "5-star chefs" was also quite underwhelming and limited.

The lesson for me here was to reconsider beach break shore excursions sold through the cruise line for the overselling aspect it brings with it. In the Caribbean, there are plenty of beaches in any port, so I'm best served by finding another way to visit one of the other less-crowded options.

A day at Margaritaville

Another "Jamaica mistaica" was to skip the tours all together and just hang out at the Margaritaville in Falmouth.

On my next visit to Falmouth, we thought we'd take it easy and just hang out in the Margaritaville bar that contained within the Falmouth cruise port because it has a rather large pool, plenty of chairs, and food that we'll enjoy (even if it's nothing special or authentic).

The day started off good, as we got to Margaritaville and found our spot. There was no cost to enter the pool or use the facilities and the kids really enjoyed the pool.

Unfortunately, a lot of other people had the same idea we did and by mid-morning, the pool and seating was super crowded.

Being a Margaritaville, the food and drink were nothing spectacular but also quite expensive. The longer we stayed, the more I thought "I could be enjoying a very similar experience back on the cruise ship for a lot less money".

We eventually packed things up and went back to the ship, but the lesson I learned here was Margaritaville is fine for a quick visit, not a whole day stop.

Trying to get to St. John on my own

Ever since I visited St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I loved how absolutely beautiful it was and wanted to return every time.

In order to visit St. John, you have to take the ferry from an area of St. Thomas known as Red Hook. Red Hook is not really near any popular beaches, so it is not exactly the most popular destinations out there.

My plan was to go take the ferry to nearby St. John and enjoy a day at one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever visited. 

We went to the taxi stand and asked to go to Red Hook.  In St. Thomas, taxis in the form of a sedan are nearly nonexistent.  

Each taxi driver passed us on to someone else, as they were unwilling to drive us there.  For some strange reason, the taxis in St. Thomas are primarily these converted pickup truck buses, and the taxi operators all want to maximize every seat in the vehicle.

So after 30-40 minutes of literally standing around to go, we were told to board one of these buses to go to Red Hook.  Except the bus was not going to Red Hook. We asked the people onboard where they were headed, and were told some other beach on the island.  So clearly the plan was to take these folks somewhere, and drop us off later. 

I was so irritated at the situation, that I decided I would rather spend my day back on the ship than deal with the taxi consortium.

My lesson learned here was to either book a Royal Caribbean excursion that would take us to St. John, or pre-arrange private transportation to the ferry area.

Read more: Guide to visiting St. John on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Kennedy Space Center

Don't worry, I loved Kennedy Space Center when I visited it on my Anthem of the Seas cruise. The issue was how I chose to get there.

We sailed on Anthem of the Seas from New York and had a port stop in Port Canaveral.

I don't remember why, but when we decided to visit Kennedy Space Center I was fixated on finding a Royal Caribbean shore excursion to take us there. Kennedy Space Center is a very short distance by car from Port Canaveral, and I'm not certain why I didn't take a taxi cab.

We got to the space center without any problems and had a fabulous time, but we wasted a lot of time with the bus.

We booked the Kennedy Space Center Express tour, which was not a guided tour, and it would simply drive us to the entrance and give us a time to return back.

Part of my mistake was assuming 5 hours at Kennedy Space Center was going to be too much time and I'd run out of things to do. The reality was I wish we had another five hours because it was incredible.

Had I just taken a taxi to Kennedy Space Center, we could have squeezed out another hour or two from our day.

Mr. Sanchos in Cozumel

My most recent shore excursion goof was spending the day at Mr Sanchos Beach Club in Cozumel.

Within a half hour of arriving, that little voice in my head started saying "this was a mistake" and I tried my best to enjoy the day but it was a disappointment.

It's my opinion that Mr. Sanchos' popularity seems to have lead to the one faux pas of any beach spot: overcrowding. They clearly had sold every chair and table at the resort and I found it to be overcrowded and unenjoyable.

The wait staff were great, but I found it disappointing how busy things were because it felt like we were all pushed together a little too much.

Making matters worse was the food, which came overcooked and didn't taste great.

I know Mr. Sanchos is a beach resort a lot of people have enjoyed over the years, but I thought it paled in comparison to many other beach days spots in Cozumel.

Bonus: Walt Disney World

Consider this a word of caution rather than a personal experience.

A lot of cruisers that visit Port Canaveral for the day are tempted to book a shore excursion that takes them to Walt Disney World in nearby Orlando. 

It's an hour-long drive and seems like a great idea for a day visit.

The problem with this idea is how incredibly expensive a one-day pass is to the parks, along with the timing.

Because your ship arrives much later than when the theme parks open for the day (compounded by the fact it will take you time to disembark and then drive to the parks), you'll have a very limited window of time to enjoy what Disney offers. 

Moreover, because you have to be back onboard the ship much sooner than the theme parks close, there's just no way you're getting your money's worth from a day visit.

If you want to experience Disney World with a cruise, your best best is to do a land vacation there before your cruise for a few days, and then book a short weekend cruise on Royal Caribbean to recuperate.

Harmony of the Seas changes itinerary to avoid Tropical Storm Fiona

16 Sep 2022
Matt Hochberg

The Atlantic hurricane season has been quiet thus far, but it's claimed an itinerary change for at least one cruise ship.

Harmony of the Seas front part

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas cruise ship has changed itineraries to avoid the path of Tropical Storm Fiona.

Guests booked on Harmony of the Seas have been advised they will change from an Eastern Caribbean itinerary to a Western Caribbean itinerary.

In an email to guests, Royal Caribbean said the change was made, "to maintain a safe and comfortable journey."

Instead of sailing to St. Thomas and St. Maarten, Harmony of the Seas will go to Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico.

This change affects the September 18, 2022 sailing of Harmony of the Seas only.

The ship will still visit Perfect Day at CocoCay as scheduled.

Hurricane aerial view

Tropical Storm Fiona is now very near the Leeward Islands and is forecasted to move westward across the U.S. and British Virgin Islands on Saturday and Puerto Rico late Saturday and Saturday night.

The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Fiona's center is approaching Guadeloupe and tropical storm conditions (winds 39 mph or higher), heavy rain and strong waves are expected in the Leeward Islands.

Fiona is then forecasted to strengthen after moving across Hispaniola early next week and could impact the Turks and Caicos islands as well as southeastern Bahamas.

Cruiser reaction

Whenever cruise lines need to change an itinerary due to weather, there's plenty of thoughts on the impact from the guest perspective. 

Thomas Beaulieu wrote on Facebook, "That's still a great itinerary. You will get more than your money's worth if you bought the beverage package. 5 out 7 days you get full use of the package all day and night! Cheers."

Chris Blahut, wrote "Can’t do anything about the weather. Better to be safe than sorry."

Ragene Warner Pinson was disappointed, but understood the need for the change, "What a bummer. I understand why but that’s still a bummer. St Thomas and Saint Martin are so much better than the Mexico ports and my personal opinion."

Quiet hurricane season so far

Balcony smooth seas

At the risk of jinxing our collective luck, so far hurricanes have not been a major factor so far in 2022 in the Atlantic.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs between June and November, and there's been only three named storms before September. 

There were no named storms in the Atlantic during August, the first time that had happened since 1997.

James Van Fleet predicting weather

For what it's worth, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an updated forecast in early August for the rest of the season, which still called for an above-normal level of activity.

NOAA thinks there will be 14 to 20 named storms, with six to 10 turning into hurricanes. Three to five of those could strengthen into major hurricanes — Category 3 or stronger — with winds of at least 111 m.p.h.