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Royal Caribbean answers cruise ship special needs and accessibility questions

In:
24 Aug 2022
By: 
Chantal McPhee

Have you every wanted to know about going on a cruise if you or someone you know has a special need?

Side of Navigator of the Seas

Today, Royal Caribbean management participated in a discussion with travel agents, answering questions relating to special needs and accessibility while cruising.  

Ronald Pettit, Royal Caribbean’s Executive Disability Inclusion & Accessibility Officer, addressed several topics along with Renee Didier, Manager of the Sales Training Team.

Pettit has been with Royal Caribbean Group for over 16 years in varying positions and has led the cruise line as an industry leader in accessible cruise vacations. In the webinar today, Pettit elaborated on a number of Royal Caribbean’s practices in making the cruise experience more accessible.  

Wheelchair accessibility on Royal Caribbean - Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Here are some of the questions and answers from today’s session.

How much advance notice should we provide about a disability?

Independence of the Seas aerial view birds eye

Ideally at the time of booking, but “no later than 30 days prior to sailing, except for sign language interpreting requests which must be submitted 60 days prior to sailing".

What are the steps Royal Caribbean takes to prepare for guests before coming on board?

Royal Caribbean collects and reviews all accommodation requests, working with relevant parties to prepare. C

loser to the sailing date, about 10 days beforehand, important details are disseminated to staff, such as housekeeping and dining. 

Where can you find the special needs form?

Royal Caribbean's website

The special needs form is a very important tool for anyone to use. As listed on the website, the form requires basic information, including:

  • Personal details such as name and address
  • What accommodations are requested
  • If an accessible stateroom is required
  • Accessible hotel room pre or post-cruise
  • Any equipment that needs to be brought on board
  • Dietary request
  • Accessible shore excursion
  • Any other request

The website notes that information provided on the form will be shared with only those who need it, such as crew members, housekeeping staff, and third parties, including ground transportation staff or shore excursions where required.

How can I get assistance with embarkation and disembarkation?

Photos: Royal Caribbean provides hurricane relief to people of Caribbean | Royal Caribbean Blog

The cruise line does provide a wheelchair and assistance in navigating the terminal and getting on the ship. Asking the day of can be an issue, as the information is collected and organized days in advance.

Pettit did note that staff does their best to make sure wheelchairs are available when needed, and organizing various boarding times is part of this process. Sometimes patience is required, though.

While onboard the cruise, scooters and wheelchairs are not provided unless it is a medical emergency. Royal Caribbean does work with companies that can provide mobility options that can be rented for the duration of the cruise and even delivered right to the guest’s cabin.

What can be done for guests with food allergies or dietary restrictions?

Windjammer food on a plate

Pettit noted that dietary restrictions and allergies are the second biggest request after pier assistance. Royal Caribbean is very experienced in dealing with common needs such as gluten, dairy and lactose-free foods, which he noted are well highlighted on menus. However, there are less common allergies that can be problematic for guests.

He advised cruisers can request the following evening's menu with modifications.

What type of options do we have on board for those individuals with autism?

Royal Caribbean is known to be first autism friendly cruise line in the world, partnering with Autism on the Seas, which helps them with specific products and services, including sensory friendly movies, an autism channel, a social storybook to name a few.

 In addressing this, Pettit explained that there is lots of programming that can be offered on board the ship, and literally, they can make any of them accessible.

Read moreHow one group helps families with Autism cruise on Royal Caribbean

Can guests bring a service dog on a cruise ship?

When asked if service dogs are permitted onboard, the answer was an emphatic yes, with Pettit going on to discuss the critical, evolving role of service dogs play,  adding they do many things:  “Service dogs help retrieve object, alert people that somebody is at the door there now, medical alert dogs that help people to detect if they're going to have a seizure or to take their medication.

He did clarify that service dogs have been specifically trained to perform a very specific function or take to help a person with a disability, different than a therapy dog who may not qualify under the ADA as a service dog. 

Are there sharp containers and fridges for diabetics?

Sharps container

Yes, Royal Caribbean does provide these in the stateroom, and Pettit advised the need to clearly identify specific requirements.

For example, not all diabetes medicine needs to be refrigerated.  

If a guest needs oxygen, can Royal Caribbean provide it onboard?

Oxygen

Royal Caribbean does not provide oxygen for their cruise; it is only available for emergencies, so guests need to make their own arrangements in this regard.

He noted the advancements that have led to the portable oxygen concentrator that helps convert ambient air into on0demand oxygen, which may be of benefit to some passengers.

If a guest needs dialysis, can they sail with Royal Caribbean?

Suite living room

Guests who can bring their machines and do self-administered dialysis are welcome to sail, and this has been happening for decades.

Royal Caribbean is unable to provide medically supervised hemodialysis; however, some guests have been using self-administered NxStage equipment, which which are permissible.

Guests can book through Dialysis at Sea (https://www.dialysisatsea.com).

Are there accessible shore excursions available?

Family on the beach

Discussing accessible short excursions, Pettit describes his team's effort, "I have a small six seven member team that deals exclusively with accessible shore excursions, which are akin to a concierge service."

"They work in various ports of call with tour operators to provide guests with what they are looking for. This is also why it is key to communicate well heard of time."

Are Royal Caribbean's private islands accessible?

Perfect Day at CocoCay seen from ship

Yes, they are, and Pettit elaborated that both Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas and Labadee in Haiti have a good amount of access with hard pathways throughout the island, accessible trams,  beach wheelchairs to navigate the sand, pull lifts to get in and out of the pool and accessible cabanas. 

Royal Caribbean will give leftover cruise credits as onboard credits instead

In:
24 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is going to stop issuing leftover future cruise credits as cruise credits to be used to book another cruise.

Travel agents were informed on Wednesday that Royal Caribbean decided it would make more sense to let clients redeeming a future cruise credit that has a leftover amount to become an onboard credit instead.

Many cruisers still have future cruise credits from the global cruise industry shutdown of 2020 and 2021 that remain unused.

In a situation where a future cruise credit is applied to a booking, but the full value is not utilized, instead of a new future cruise credit being created for the remainder balance, it will be issued as onboard credit on the cruise that they're using the cruise credits in the first place.

Ship docked in Caribbean

The announcement only applies to future cruise credits that get applied first towards the deposit of a new cruise.

Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service at Royal Caribbean International  explained the new policy to travel agents during a webinar, "if somebody has a left over amount, we're giving them that amount now as an OBC, an onboard credit, on the cruise that they're using the FCC."

"We're not going to reissue FCC's. It's strictly going to go back as an onboard credit for the existing cruise that they're using their FCC."

Simplifying cruise credits

Royal Caribbean has been steadily simplifying the future cruise credit process for guests to ensure they can easily use the money they are owed.

As of June 1, 2022, Royal Caribbean announced all unredeemed future cruise credits (FCC) offered under the Cruise with Confidence program will no longer expire.

Royal Caribbean wants changes like this and today's change to provide more flexibility for anyone with a FCC, instead of them acting as a kind of boondoggle.

How do I redeem my credit?

Royal Caribbean has made it quite easy to redeem a future cruise credit, whether you are booking directly or with a travel agent.

The easiest way is to let your travel agent redeem it by providing them with the Certificate Number and booking ID.

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

If you book on your own, here's how to redeem a FCC for a new booking on Royal Caribbean's website:

  1. Find the sailing that you are interested in.
  2. Select your cabin type and location.
  3. Proceed to the payment page.
  4. Enter your payment and personal information.
  5. Enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s).
    • If you are booking multiple cabins, you can enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s) for each room.
  6. Click “submit.”
  7. You will receive an email letting you know if your credit was valid.

Here’s how to redeem online for existing bookings:

  1. Visit the Redemption page.
  2. Enter your booking information.
  3. Enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s).
  4. Click “submit.”
  5. You will receive an email letting you know if your credit was valid.

Royal Caribbean increases gratuities for crew members on its cruise ships

In:
23 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

After four years, Royal Caribbean is increasing the gratuity rate cruise ship passengers will pay for the service they receive from crew members onboard its ships.

Each passenger pays a daily gratuity that covers the services of the crew members they interact with the most, and this daily rate is charged automatically unless the guest pre-pays it prior to the cruise.

As of September 7, 2022, the automatic daily gratuity charge will increase:

  • Standard cabin (Junior Suites and below) going from $14.50 to $16.00 per day, per person
  • Suite gratuity rate will change from $17.50 to $18.50 per day per person

Royal Caribbean last raised gratuities January 2, 2018.

The daily gratuities are shared among dining, bar & culinary services staff, stateroom attendants and other hotel services teams who work behind the scenes.

Royal Caribbean stipulates in the unlikely event that a guest onboard being charged the daily automatic gratuity does not receive satisfactory service, the guest may request to modify the daily amount at their discretion by visiting Guest Services onboard up until the morning of their departure.

Mariner of the Seas docked in CocoCay

For new reservations, the adjusted gratuity amounts are effective as of September 7, 2022.

Guests who booked prior to September 7, 2022 can opt to prepay gratuities prior to sailing to take advantage of the current rates. On or after September 7, 2022, regardless of when the booking was created, gratuities paid while onboard are subject to the new, increased rates.

Pre-existing bookings confirmed prior to September 7th , 2022 will not be subject to the increased guidelines as long as gratuities are paid in advance of sailing. Should guests opt not to pay gratuities until onboard, they will be subject to the newly suggested gratuity amounts.

This automatic gratuity does not cover other onboard purchases. A 18% gratuity is automatically added to all beverages, mini bar items, and spa & salon purchases.

Other cruise lines already made similar changes

NCL logo on side of ship

Other major cruise lines already increased their gratuities this year.

In April 2022, Carnival Cruise Line raised their gratuities to $14.50 per person, per day for standard staterooms and $16.50 per person, per day for suites.

Norwegian Cruise Line also raised their gratuities in April, when they changed their rates:

  • Balcony and lower cabins: $16.00 per person, per day
  • Haven and Suite guests: $20.00 per person, per day
  • Club Balcony Suite guests remains at $18.00 per person, per day

In July, Disney Cruise Line increased their gratuities to $14.50 per night, per person for standard rooms and $15.50 per night, per person for suite guests.

How gratuities work on a cruise

Wonder of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you do absolutely nothing, then you can expect an automatic charge on your SeaPass account each day of the cruise.

The exception is in certain markets where tipping is not as ingrained as part of their culture, so Royal Caribbean includes daily gratuities as part of the price of the cruise.  This occurs in the Australian cruise market.

Each guest, regardless of age, will be assessed the daily gratuity as recognition for the hard work crew members do each day.

An alternative is to pre-pay the gratuity before the cruise begins.  When this opted into by the guest, then you'll pay the full gratuity amount before the cruise begins at final payment date.  It will show up as a line item on your final payment.

Pre-paid gratuities can be added to an individual reservation at any time outside of 48 hours of the sail date.

Wonder of the Seas aerial rear night

Guests that booked directly with Royal Caribbean can pre-pay gratuities by calling 866-562-7625 or logging into www.royalcaribbean.com before their sailing.

Guests that booked through a travel agent can request their agent add pre-paid gratuities to the guests' booking prior to sailing.

More info:

The Oasis Class features that are only left on Allure of the Seas

In:
23 Aug 2022
By: 
Marcy Miyar

Royal Caribbean has steadily updated each of its Oasis Class cruise ships, but Allure of the Seas is the last ship that has features from the original design.

Allure of the Seas aerial with sunset

When Oasis of the Seas started sailing in December, 2009 it was the largest, most innovative cruise ship in the world. Thirteen years later it is still a marvel in the industry.

Four other Oasis class ships have come along with different features including new restaurants, dry slides, water slides and escape rooms.

Read moreWhat was added to each Royal Caribbean ship during its Royal Amplified refurbishment

Due to the global pandemic, Allure of the Seas has had her scheduled upgrades suspended for at least the next three years (according to the current Hotel Manager).

While I’m here on my favorite Oasis class ship for the next eight days, I thought I’d share some classic features of the ship you either can’t find on the others or are slowly being phased out.

Royal Promenade

One of my favorite venues is the Champagne Bar. I’m always looking for a good martini and the Champagne Bar consistently delivers with my classic favorites. The bar staff also is great at coming up with new flavors I’ve never thought to try.

That space has been replaced with the Bionic Bar on the other Oasis Class ships. This is where you can get your drinks made for you by the robotic bartenders. I, myself am not a fan of the Bionic Bar which obviously puts me in the minority or Royal wouldn’t keep adding them to their ships. I miss the personal connection to the bar staff and the inviting ambiance of the Champagne bar. The Bionic Bar always seems to be very bright and stark in contrast.

Deck 5 is also where you’ll find the On-Air Club. It’s here that karaoke and some visual trivia takes place. While it still exists on other ships, Oasis and Wonder have re-named it “Spotlight Karaoke” and it is now a designated karaoke bar.

Pool Deck

The biggest difference between Allure and the other Oasis class ships is the absence of the water slides.

The other four ships have “The Perfect Storm.” They consist of two twisting slides, The Typhoon and The Cyclone along with a separate bowl-style slide named Supercell. In this area on Allure you’ll find three hot tubs.

Another missing feature is the Lime and Coconut bars that are found on Oasis and Wonder. The Sand Bar and Pool Bar are in these locations but they don’t deliver the Caribbean theming that the Lime and Coconut brings to those ships.

The Solarium Bistro is available on all ships for breakfast and lunch however, Allure is the only one that turns the restaurant into the Samba Grill in the evenings. Samba Grill is Royal’s take on the Brazilian Steakhouse, with gauchos serving meats tableside.

Deck 15 on Allure is also where you’ll find the last of the Wipe Out Café’s. This outdoor restaurant serves breakfast daily. You can find hamburgers and sandwiches during lunch hours. It has been replaced by El Loco Fresh on Oasis and Symphony.

The Living Room is the onboard club for teens. I wouldn’t say it’s being phased out, as there will always be an area for the younger cruises, however, that space on Oasis has been replaced by Port Side BBQ and on Wonder by their expanded Windjammer Café.

Deck 14: No Escape!

The card room on Deck 14 (named Seven Hearts) has board games and computers; along with plenty of tables.

This area on Oasis and Wonder has been replaced by Escape rooms Apollo 18 and The Observatorium, respectively.

Diamond Lounge

Allure is the only ship that still has their Diamond Lounge on Deck 11, overlooking the Boardwalk. It is, by far, my favorite location in the fleet. The lounge is for Crown and Anchor members, Diamond and above.

Here, you have access to a specialty coffee machine. Food includes continental breakfast in the morning, some snacks during the day (cookies, fruit etc.) and hors d’oeuvres in the evening, with cocktail service.

There is also a dedicated concierge to help you with things like dining and show reservations.

There are stairs leading up to Deck 12 that used to be part of the lounge but is now reserved for Chef’s Table dinner.

On the other Oasis class ships, the Diamond Lounge (and the Library next door) has been replaced with the Wonderland specialty restaurant or in Oasis’ case, additional staterooms.

Boardwalk

The other major difference between Allure and the others is the absence of The Abyss, the dry slide. You will not find the two purple tubes at the end of the Boardwalk blocking your view to the ocean. I happen to love that, especially if you have Boardwalk balcony room.

Sabor, the Mexican specialty dining venue has been replaced on Oasis, Symphony and Wonder with Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade.

Allure’s Boardwalk Donuts, Cups & Scoops ice cream parlor and the Arcade also occupy the space that has been taken over by Playmakers on the other ships.

In addition, Sabor has a separate bar in the center of the Boardwalk that on the other ships is the landing area of The Abyss slide.

Comedy Club

Deck 4 is where you’ll find the dedicated comedy club on Allure.

On her sister ships, that has been turned into the Diamond Club lounge.

No need to fear, comedy lovers. You can still find the comedians in Blaze, The Attic or even in the main theater.

Specialty Suites

Allure and Oasis are the only ships in the class that feature the Owner’s and Grand Panoramic Suites.

These suites are pretty much the same layout with the Owner’s being approximately 160 square feet larger. They are on opposite sides of deck 17 (1701 and 1758).

What makes them particularly unique is the private hot tub on their balconies.

Final thoughts

There hasn’t been an official date for Allure’s amplification beyond a vague three year timeline. No word on what she will receive but you can pretty much bet it will include the Abyss and Perfect Storm slides. In fact, I noticed that in the gift shop, the ship ornament for Allure already has the addition of the Abyss.

This winter Allure will be leaving Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale and moving on to Galveston, Texas. In the fall of 2023, she’ll be back in Florida doing three and four night sailings from Port Canaveral. I look forward to sailing on her many more times in these next three years to enjoy the venues I love before they’re gone forever.

Why fall is a great time to cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia

In:
23 Aug 2022
By: 
Chantal McPhee

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the natural beauty of the Canadian maritime provinces, and Halifax is a star attraction, popular on many east coast cruising itineraries. Established in 1749, the historic city is full of east coast charm, with plenty of activities that take advantage of the natural surroundings and seaside location.

Peggy's Cove

With mild temperatures and warm afternoon sun, it is an ideal season to explore the outdoors and the magnificent Atlantic views. The quaint, historic city center with classic red brick buildings takes guests back to the area’s 17th-century colonial roots.

Whether it be for scenic tours, outdoor activities, food, or relaxation, there is something for everyone to enjoy. And, with the busy summer tourist season ending, the atmosphere is perfect.  

Here are some of the top reasons to cruise to this east coast destination in autumn.

Weather and Climate

Halifax is located in Eastern Canada, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is situated in the aptly named Halifax Harbour, one of the largest, deepest harbour’s in the world, perfect for a cruise ship's port of call.  

Fall makes for great temperatures in this region. September can see cooler mornings but generally warms up to temperatures in the 70s as the sun warms the land, perfect weather for sightseeing. The Atlantic Ocean is still relatively mild in the 60s, which makes it great for boating activities.

In October, as the leaves start to turn into their most vibrant colors, visitors can expect temperatures in the low 50 and 60s and slightly more rain than in September. Make sure to pack a jacket, as the mornings can be cool.

Nova Scotia lighthouse

The surrounding ocean and rolling hills of Halifax can create dynamic weather patterns, so it is always a good idea to have layers and an umbrella for a quick shower. Fog is common in the coastal city but most often burns off, so not to worry.

Crowds and Prices

Halifax sunset

Halifax has become a prime tourist destination, with millions of regional, national and international travelers visiting each year. The summer months, with the warmest weather and lots of festivals, see the most visitors.

In the fall, students start back to school after labour day, seeing a significant decrease in crowds. This makes for less traffic, leisurely strolls and easier to get into sought after restaurants along Halifax’s seaside boardwalk.

Also, the latter part of the fall seas better pricing. On select Royal Caribbean cruises, prices drop as much as 40% between September and October. Money that can be spent on fun excursions and lobster feasts.

Fall foliage

Fall foliage

One of the foremost reasons to visit the east coast is the fall foliage. Trees change from their summer greens to the most spectacular colors, brilliant reds, oranges, to soft yellows. So beloved are these leaves that a red maple leaf is the centerpiece of the Canadian flag.

There are lots of ways to take part in this scenic transformation, which is at its height from mid-September to October. For a more relaxed pace, stroll the downtown areas of Halifax and its many parks and tree lined streets. Don’t miss the Halifax Public Gardens. Established in the Victorian age, this free park is a stunning showcase of flora and fauna. The crimson colored bandstand is a great spot to take in the views or catch a concert.

The area also has a number of parks, including Point Pleasant Park which features almost 200 acres of serene, forested landscape in the southern end of the Halifax Peninsula.

Outdoor activities

halifax Harbour Hopper

The east coast provides a wide array of activities and sights to see. Many great beaches, boating, kayaking, and trails; the possibilities are endless. For the more adventurous, there is whale watching, or perhaps a “Harbour Hopper” a bus that turns into a boat for a tour of both the land and sea.

Another must see is Peggy’s Cove, a fishing village not far from Halifax. Home to its famous lighthouse and rocky shores, it is truly a picture perfect postcard. A recent upgrade to the area provides a fully accessible viewing deck on the Atlantic Ocean, which is great news for tourists.

For those wanting an authentic mariner experience, Royal Caribbean offers a local excursion where guests get to be crew for the day on a lobster boat. As they sail out of the harbour, cruisers get to learn about the importance of lighthouses, followed by a hands-on experience retrieving a lobster from its trap.   

Seafood and much more

Halifax harbor

The Haligonian food scene has been shaped by its proximity to the sea and its French, English, and Scottish settlers. In particular, this Atlantic region of Canada is renowned for its bountiful fresh seafood. Throughout the fall, guests can enjoy lobster served with butter in the traditional Nova Scotia style. Don't worry; most places provide plastic bibs for the somewhat messy process of consuming this delicacy.

September is also a great time to take part in Canada’s largest oyster festival. Try a variety of oysters in differing preparations, and see how to shuck oysters from the pros. Fresh mussels, Digby scallops, and even dried seaweed are all on the menu

Oysterfest

The region is known for its wild blueberries and freshly harvested apples, which are used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Casual eats include a donair, which consists of spicy meat in a pita with a genuinely unique creamy garlic sauce. A product of the Scottish influence (Nova Scotia means New Scotland in Latin, after all) are oatcakes; a perfect afternoon treat with coffee. And, before you leave, make sure to pick up some authentic, locally made maple syrup for those who weren't lucky enough to cruise with you.

Waterfront  

Halifax Port

Some of the best places to try out activities and try some local delights is the waterfront. The impressive 2.5 mile waterfront boardwalk weaves amongst some of its glories from the past, as well as great food and activity options. With fewer crowds in the fall, it is particularly a nice place to explore.

Rent a bike and peddle the whole of the path to get the full experience. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops of all types. Don’t miss Amos Pewter along the waterfront, which makes unique handicrafts and jewelry out of the metal alloy. To cap it all off, try your hand at cards or the slots at the local casino, also located on the boardwalk.

After a walk, visit the Alexander Keith Brewery, which has been making beer since 1820. Listen to some Celtic music at the 200 year old Historic Properties while chatting with locals. The relaxed atmosphere of fall makes it so enjoyable.

Historic Sites

Museum in Halifax

If the weather turns to rain, or simply you are interested in the history of Halifax, there are plenty of attractions that are easily accessible in the downtown area.

Located on the Halifax waterfront, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic takes you back in time as you can learn about the region’s maritime history, including its role in the Titanic recovery. Not far away is Fairview Lawn Cemetery, the final resting place of over 100 victims of the Titanic.

There are also several great museums and galleries located in the downtown area, such as the Museum of Natural History, The Canadian Museum of Immigration, and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, which features local renowned artist Maud Lewis. Topping it all off is Citadel Hill, is mid-18th century fort with an impressive star-shaped footprint.

Cruises going to Halifax

Serenade of the Seas in Halifax

For cruisers wanting to explore the picturesque East coast with a stop in Halifax,  Royal Caribbean offers a variety of fall itineraries and ships to choose from:  

  • Liberty of the Seas – 4 nights leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Oasis of the Seas – 5 nights leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Voyager of the Seas – 7 nights leaving from Boston, Massachusetts
  • Serenade of the Seas - 7 nights leaving from Boston, Massachusetts
  • Adventure of the Seas – 9 nights leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Liberty of the Seas – 9 nights leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Vision of the Seas – 9 nights leaving from Baltimore Maryland
  • Jewel of the Seas – 11 nights leaving from Quebec City, Quebec

Royal Caribbean updates Covid protocols to open more sailings to unvaccinated cruisers

In:
22 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has updated its Covid-19 protocols to allow more unvaccinated people to sail on their ships.

Royal Caribbean had opened the door for unvaccinated adults to sail with them from select homeports, but the line updated the policy on Monday to open up more sailings.

"The time has come for us to welcome all adventurers back onboard," Royal Caribbean said in an email to travel agents.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean says this change in protocols are "to more closely align with the broader travel industry."

This change is likely a reflection of many countries opening their borders up to unvaccinated cruisers as well.  

Beginning September 5, all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, can cruise on the following itineraries, as long as they meet testing requirements to board.

  • Any cruise from a Florida home port.
  • Any cruise on Oasis of the Seas from Cape Liberty
  • Any cruise from Los Angeles, California
  • Any cruise from Galveston, Texas
  • Any cruise from New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Any cruise from a European home port
    • (Note: Guests that are not "up to date" on their vaccination per EMA standards will need to take a test onboard in order to get off the ship in Greece and Spain)

There are two notable changes with this policy update: allowing unvaccinated from Florida ports, as well as Oasis of the Seas from Cape Liberty.

Due to local regulations, sailings to or from Australia, Bermuda, Canada or Singapore still require guests to be vaccinated.

Oasis of the Seas in New York with Statue of Liberty

When Royal Caribbean announced a change to allow unvaccinated back onboard, all sailings from Florida and Bayonne were not included.

Since then, other cruise lines have opened up their ships from Florida ports, which lead many to question why Royal Caribbean had not done the same.

While vaccination is not required, Royal Caribbean kindly asks all guests to disclose their status during check-in to ensure they maintain a highly vaccinated onboard population.

The cruise line continues to practice health and safety measures that exceed other types of vacations. These measures include the routine monitoring and vaccination of all crew members and keeping them up to date with boosters when they are eligible, enhanced testing and care capabilities in every onboard medical center, and more.

Testing changes

Covid-19 antigen test

Royal Caribbean also updated its testing requirements, calling them easier.

Starting with September 5th, for U.S. cruises that don’t visit Canada or Bermuda:

  • 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.
  • Royal Caribbean will begin accepting results from self-administered home tests. 

This change greatly makes it easier for vaccinated cruisers to go on a cruise without a test at all, unless they take a longer sailing.

All guests welcome

Starting with September 5th, for Europe cruises that don't visit Greece:
 

  • Guests who are up to date with their vaccinations won’t have to take a pre-cruise test on cruises that are shorter than 10 nights.
  • Unvaccinated guests or guests not up to date with their vaccinations age 12 and up will need to test within 3 days before boarding, regardless of cruise length.
  • Children age 11 and under will not need to test.
  • Royal Caribbean will begin accepting results from self-administered home tests on most sailings. 

Requirements in other regions

Halifax Port

Starting September 5th, guests who are not vaccinated can also sail on European cruises. 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.

Refunds if the policy doesn't match your needs

Symphony of the Seas sailing away

Royal Caribbean promises protocols for each sailing will be sent to the guest via email and on the website, no less than 30 days before you sail.

Should protocols for your sailing change upon that confirmation, and you are unable to travel due to your vaccination status, Royal Caribbean will move you to a new sailing where your vaccination status is accepted or provide you a refund.

What is a cruise ship dry dock?

In:
22 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Royal Caribbean cruise ships undergo a dry dock every few years for routine maintenance and refurbishment, but why are dry docks necessary and how does the process work?

Harmony of the Seas in dry dock

Whether you've read about it online or heard from another passenger or crew member about a ship's upcoming dry dock, you might be wondering what this entails.

Just like when your car needs to get service and they hoist it up on a lift, cruise ships need to get "under the hood" work done to keep them working properly.

What is a cruise ship dry dock?

A dry dock is a narrow basin that can be filled and drained of water to allow for maintenance and repairs on a ship’s hull.

Because the hull remains underwater at all times, it’s necessary to remove the ship from water occasionally to clean the hull and work on routine maintenance of the ship. Royal Caribbean ships usually have dry dock once every five years.

For a ship to enter a dry dock, the basin must first be filled with water, allowing the ship to sail in safely. Once the ship sails into the dry dock and is situated in the correct position, the gate is closed and water is drained.

Dry docks are also used during the construction of new ships. Because ships cannot, of course, be constructed in the water, they are constructed on a dry dock which can later be filled with water to allow the ship to safely sail out once constructed.

What type of maintenance and repairs happen during a dry dock?

During dry dock, ships undergo routine mechanical work as well as checks of the ship’s propeller blades, thrusters, stabilizers, navigation software, etc. If anything needs to be replaced, it will be replaced during this time. The ship’s hull is cleaned during dry dock with a power washing system and typically repainted.

Parts of the ship’s exterior and interior spaces are also repainted during dry dock. When Harmony of the Seas underwent dry dock in 2021, for example, the shipyard estimated they would use around 8,000 liters of paint on the ship!

Dry dock is also a time for interior refurbishments such as adding new coats of paint and replacing flooring, bedding, curtains, etc. Anything that cannot easily be done while a ship is in service will be done during dry dock (deep cleaning of onboard spaces, adding new venues, etc.).

Why does the ship’s hull need to be cleaned?

If routine cleaning of a ship’s hull is neglected, it can lead to the accumulation of marine line on the hull, known as biofouling. Barnacles, shellfish, algae, and other marine life can live on the hull.

The most notorious are barnacles, a crustacean related to lobsters and crabs, who must attach onto a hard surface to develop into adults. In fact, the natural “glue” barnacles use to attach to a ship’s hull is so strong that researchers have been trying to mimic the sticky substance for use commercially and medically.

This, of course, causes a few key problems for ships. First, a buildup of marine life can cause more drag, making the ship’s speed lower, which increases both fuel costs and carbon emissions.

It also means that marine life can be transported from one area of the world to another, causing potential environmental impact as existing ecosystems may be affected by new types of marine life.

Therefore, having routine dry dock maintenance to clean the ship’s hull can help negate this problem and assure that large buildups of marine life do not occur on Royal Caribbean’s ships.

Refurbishments and amplifications

Mariner of the Seas in dry dock for her 2018 amplification

During some dry docks, Royal Caribbean ships will undergo significant refurbishments or amplifications through Royal Caribbean’s Royal Amplified program.

Royal Caribbean uses two terms for upgrading its cruise ships: refurbishment and amplification.

Refurbishments are smaller enhancements to a ship, such as upgrading staterooms, re-designing an existing venue, switching a specialty restaurant, etc. Amplifications are more in-depth refurbishments where Royal Caribbean “amplifies” an older ship with many of the popular features found on the fleet’s newest cruise ships. 

Related: What was added to each Royal Caribbean ship during its Royal Amplified refurbishment

Amplifications may include adding water slides, new staterooms, renovated pool decks, several new bars and restaurants, and activities like an escape room, laser tag, and bungee jumping.

Dry docks take cruise ships out of service for around two weeks for routine maintenance, but amplifications can take over a month.

When Oasis of the Seas received her amplification in 2019, which included adding waterslides, the Ultimate Abyss, a Caribbean resort-style pool deck, and new dining venues, it took a total of 63 days.

In fact, when Oasis of the Seas was amplified, nearly every single venue was touched by workers to either repair, enhance, or alter the space. About 800 tons were added to the ship when all the work was done.

Every day counts in a dry dock

When a cruise ship needs to go into dry dock, it means the ship will be out of service and that means no revenue for that time.

Similar to how a professional athlete that is injured cannot help the team win, a cruise ship that goes in for work will not improve the cruise line's bottom line.

Oasis of the Seas dry dock overhead

Over 2,700 contractors were onboard Oasis while the ship was in dry dock in Cadiz, Spain to get the work done in time.

Oasis was out of service for 63 days in order to get all of her work done, which is a significant investment by the cruise line. The amount of time would have been far less had they not decided to upgrade the ship, but the short-term financial impact is offset by the higher revenue and increased bookings down the line when the ship returns to service.

Planning a cruise? Start here:

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: August 21, 2022

In:
21 Aug 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Thanks for joining us for another weekly look at all of the Royal Caribbean news from this week.  The late-summer heat is still on, and we have plenty of Royal Caribbean news to share from this week.

Icon of the Seas bridge under construction

We're all eager to get more details about Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship, we got a tease of what Icon of the Seas will be all about.

Royal Caribbean has released a new video talking about Icon of the Seas and how the company came up with ideas for the ship.

The end result are five pillars of what Icon of the Seas will encapsulate.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 465th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available that compares a Disney Cruise to a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Sylvia recently tried out the Disney Wish and Mariner of the Seas right after each other to compare and contrast Disney Cruise Line versus Royal Caribbean.

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: The classes of Royal Caribbean cruise ships, explained

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: The classes of Royal Caribbean cruise ships, explained

30 Do's and Don'ts for the first day of your cruise

What should (and shouldn't) you do on the first day of the cruise to ensure you have a great start?

There's lots of good advice out there, so we whittled it down for you.

From arriving at the cruise terminal to making dining reservations, exploring the ship, and finding the best spot for sailaway, here are some of the best do’s and don’ts for the first day of your Royal Caribbean cruise.

3 hints what Icon of the Seas could look like

Icon of the Seas blueprints

Above all else, we're eager to know what Icon of the Seas will actually look like, and a few eagle-eyed readers might have spotted indications in Royal Caribbean's recent teases.

There have been a few hints in Royal Caribbean's recent video updates. Whether they end up being accurate or are red herrings, remains to be seen.

Check out these 3 hints at what Icon of the Seas could look like based on these details.

Top 10 cruise ship shore excursion mistakes to avoid

It's not uncommon for first-time cruisers to make rookie mistakes in the shore excursion planning process for a variety of reasons.

Anyone can make a mistake, so here's a list of the 10 common pitfalls when booking a shore excursion!

11 of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean

In:
20 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

There’s nothing quite like relaxing on a Caribbean beach with no worries in the world except deciding which tropical cocktail to order next, and on a cruise vacation, you’ll have the chance to do this at a different beach every day!

Tulum beach in Mexico

With crystal clear, turquoise waters and soft white sand, you’ll find some of the world’s best beaches in the Caribbean Sea, and while you’ll find beautiful beaches on every island, there are a few that outshine the others.

This list could have been hundreds of beaches long, as there are plenty of gorgeous beaches to discover throughout the Caribbean–from the Bahamas to Puerto Rico and beyond.

When visiting on a cruise ship, however, you have limited time to explore each island, so it’s important to make sure the beaches you visit are somewhat close to the cruise port.

Luckily, many of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches are located just a short ride away from cruise ports in the region. Here are the top 11 most beautiful beaches you can easily access from port while on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Trunk Bay, St. John

One of the most idyllic beaches in the Caribbean is Trunk Bay, located in the Virgin Islands National Park in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Trunk Bay is nothing short of a tropical paradise, and it even has an underwater snorkeling trail providing information about marine life and coral formations. Amenities on the island include food and drink stands, bathroom facilities, beach chairs, and snorkel rentals.

Trunk Bay in St John

You can reach Trunk Bay through an excursion or from the Cruz Bay Ferry Terminal in St. Thomas. A taxi is required to reach the ferry terminal from the cruise port.

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

Magens Bay, St. Thomas

The most famous beach on St. Thomas is Magens Bay, a one mile stretch of beach with calm waters and fine, soft sand. Due to its beauty and proximity to the cruise port, it’s an extremely popular destination for visitors to St. Thomas.

There are enough amenities on the beach to get you through the day, with bathrooms, showers, a restaurant, concession stand, a bar, and beach chair/umbrella rentals.

Taxis or shuttles are available to reach Magens Bay, which requires a 15 minute drive up and down mountainous terrain, offering stunning views of the island. Taxis are more economical than booking an excursion, especially when traveling with larger groups!

The only downside to Magens Bay is that it can get very crowded, especially when many ships are in port!

Related: Things to do in St. Thomas on your Royal Caribbean cruise

Orient Bay Beach, St. Martin

Located on the French side of St. Martin is Orient Bay Beach, a 1.5 mile long stretch of pristine white sand with turquoise waters.

The southern end of the beach has many beach bars, restaurants, and hotels whereas the northern end has few services but more peace and quiet.

Be sure to taste French cuisine while at the beach, with several French restaurants and bakeries located nearby.

Related: Top things to do in St. Maarten on your Royal Caribbean cruise

While many cruisers flock to Maho Beach in St. Maarten for the chance to view airplanes soaring overhead before landing at the airport adjacent to the beach, Orient Beach provides better swimming and lounging conditions.

Note: The southern end of the beach is clothing optional.

Playa El Cielo, Cozumel, Mexico

El Cielo means heaven in Spanish, and that should be enough of an indication that Playa El Cielo is heaven on Earth!

Located on the southwest coast of the island of Cozumel, Playa El Cielo cannot be reached by road. The best way to reach this slice of paradise is by boat, and you’ll find several excursions visiting the beach.

Most tourists visiting Playa El Cielo tend to snorkel, as this area of Cozumel has incredibly clear water and an abundance of marine life, including starfish and stingrays.

Related: Things to do in Cozumel on your Royal Caribbean cruise

Valley Church Beach, Antigua

The small nation of Antigua and Barbuda has a whopping total of 365 beaches, one for every day of the year!

Valley Church Beach is one of the best on the island of Antigua and is located around 20 minutes by car from the cruise port. Located in Valley Church Bay, the beach has calm seas and unbelievably blue water.

While there are a few hotels and places to eat near the beach, it remains relatively undeveloped, making for a more serene beach experience than many of the others on this list.

Beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent at the beach.

Related: Excursion Focus: Valley Church Beach in Antigua

Eagle Beach, Aruba

While visiting Aruba requires a little more travel time compared to visiting islands closer to the United States, it’s certainly an island worth seeing.

Aruba is covered with breathtaking beaches, but the “best” is usually considered to be Eagle Beach, a wide stretch of soft white sand leading to the most turquoise and clear water you’ll experience on the island!

Eagle Beach is also home to two Fofoti trees, a twisted tree that grows on the beach and is shaped by Aruba’s strong wings, leading to the trees always pointing in a south-easterly direction. These trees are an iconic symbol of Aruba and make for a great photo opportunity!

Eagle Beach is located around 3 miles from the cruise port in Aruba, so reaching the beach via taxi is recommended. Some shore excursions may also include a stop at the beach.

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Seven Mile Beach, located on the island of Grand Cayman, is consistently listed as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. This ~6 mile (not 7 mile!) stretch of white-sand beach is the perfect setting for visitors looking to unwind in paradise.

Due to the beach’s size and popularity, there are plenty of amenities along Seven Mile Beach, with no shortage of restaurants and bars to enjoy during your time on Grand Cayman.

Seven Mile Beach is conveniently located just a 10 minute drive away from the cruise port in Grand Cayman, making the beach accessible via taxi or bus.

West Bay Beach, Roatan

One of the most common port stops on a Western Caribbean cruise itinerary is the island of Roatan, located north of mainland Honduras.

West Bay Beach is a beautiful tropical landscape, with a palm tree-lined sandy beach and incredible snorkeling right off shore. Many beach resorts, hotels, restaurants, and bars are found at West Bay Beach, as well as a plethora of activities like snorkeling, diving, and parasailing.

Photo by Billy Hirsch of cruisehabit.com

Roatan is famous for its diving and snorkeling opportunities, and a coral reef is located swimming distance from the beach.

The beach is located around a 30 minute taxi ride from the cruise port. You’ll also find several excursion options providing transportation to and from West Bay Beach.

Barefoot Beach, Labadee

When you arrive at Royal Caribbean’s private destination of Labadee, Haiti, you’ll likely be amazed by the gorgeous scenery of the peninsula. Green mountains and small coves dot the landscape that is surrounded by beautiful and clear water.

While all of Labadee’s beaches make for a wonderful port day, one of the best is Barefoot Beach, reserved for suite guests on Royal Caribbean.

An upgraded lunch buffet and bar are available at the beach, along with cabanas available to reserve. There are more than enough complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas available as well.

Related: First timer’s guide to Labadee

Jalousie Beach, St. Lucia (Sugar Beach)

St. Lucia is most easily recognizable by the Pitons, which are two mountainous volcanic plugs rising over 2500 feet above sea level on the coast.

Situated at the foot of the Pitons is Jalousie Beach (Sugar Beach), a small, white-sand beach located in a cove that offers gorgeous views of St. Lucia’s unique landscape. When you picture St. Lucia, you’re likely picturing the view you’ll see from Jalousie Beach.

At the beach are a few restaurants and the Sugar Beach resort. Snorkelers and scuba divers can enjoy the underwater marine reserve at the shoreline of Petit Piton, the smaller of the two Piton mountains.

Reaching Sugar Beach takes around an hour and a half by car from the cruise port, so it’s recommended to book a tour to the beach, especially if you have limited hours in St. Lucia. Some tours may reach the beach via speedboat instead of by car.

Great Anse Beach, Grenada

Photo credit: Varun Kapoor (no changes made)

The small island of Grenada boasts over 45 beaches, but the most popular beach on the island is Great Anse Beach. Spanning two miles long, Great Anse Beach offers ideal Caribbean beach conditions with plenty of amenities.

A variety of beach activities are available at Great Anse Beach including water-skiing, parasailing, and snorkeling. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent.

If you’re looking for a more secluded beach, check out Morne Rouge Beach, located just a 5 minute drive from Great Anse Beach. This beach will have even calmer and clearer waters than Great Anse Beach with fewer crowds.

Great Anse Beach is located five miles from the cruise port in Grenada. You can reach the beach via taxi, public bus, or water taxi. A water taxi is the quickest option, taking only 10 minutes or so to reach the beach from the ship.

Looking for more travel inspiration? Start here:

Top 10 cruise ship shore excursion mistakes to avoid

In:
19 Aug 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

After booking a cruise, the next step in the vacation planning process often involves researching and booking amazing shore excursions around the world.

Martinique Suspension Bridge

All too often, however, first-time cruisers or those who are new to a particular port can make rookie mistakes in the shore excursion planning process, which can lead to disappointment and extra money spent later on.

While everyone makes mistakes, it’s easy to be better prepared and have a stress-free day in port by avoiding these 10 common pitfalls when booking a shore excursion!

Booking only through the cruise line

Royal Caribbean offers wonderful shore excursion opportunities, from whale watching in Alaska to guided tours of Rome and catamaran excursions in Mexico.

However, don’t assume you have to book a shore excursion directly through Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean shore excursions are typically priced higher than tours you can find through independent tour operators due to the cruise line being the “middleman” between you and the tour company.

Take a look at local tour companies in your port of call to see which excursions are offered and if they’re available at a lower cost.

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

Recently I was browsing Royal Caribbean shore excursions for my upcoming Alaska cruise. I was interested in taking the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway in Juneau, and found that the cost for the exact same experience was $59.99 when offered by Royal Caribbean and $45 to book directly on the Goldbelt Tram’s website!

Of course, booking an excursion directly through Royal Caribbean comes with more protection if the tour runs late, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons of booking independently in your planning process.

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

Assuming you have to book an excursion in the first place

Many first-time cruisers may think they have to book an excursion in every port they visit, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy time on shore without spending extra on shore excursions!

Excursions can surely offer unique opportunities you can’t do on your own, such as helicopter tours, guided ATV tours, etc., but you can have comparably fun experiences in port without breaking the bank.

Related: 7 ways to have a great time in port without a cruise ship shore excursion

Not doing research

Don’t book a shore excursion based solely on the title or pictures without researching what the excursion entails.

If an excursion is titled "Mexico Beach Break," for example, it will likely mean you'll be provided transport to and from the beach with no guided tour in between. If you're interested in a more in-depth sightseeing experience with a guide, this is probably not the best choice for you.

Dominca beach

Similarly, don't book the first tour you see. Research different tour operators and prices to see which works best for your preferences and budget.

You also want to check reviews before booking a tour. While reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt, if you notice any major red flags, it’s probably best to search for another excursion.

Waiting too long to book an excursion

Once you’re sure you want to book a particular excursion, it’s best to book the tour as soon as possible to lock in the best price and ensure the tour does not sell out.

One benefit of booking tours through Royal Caribbean is that you can reprice the tour until 48 hours before the cruise. If you book a whale watching tour in Alaska for $160 and later see the price dropped to $130, you’re able to cancel and rebook the excursion at the lower price without penalty.

The main benefit of booking right away, though, is to ensure a tour doesn’t sell out.

Tours are more prone to sell out on cruises to “bucket-list” destinations like Alaska or popular cities in the Mediterranean. Because passengers on these cruises are typically traveling longer to reach a destination–and likely picked the cruise solely for the ports themselves–they’re more likely to book shore excursions.

Related: What to do if Royal Caribbean’s shore excursions are sold out

Booking too many excursions

Some excursions are only 3-4 hours long, meaning that sometimes you can technically fit two excursions in one day if the times line up correctly.

While on paper this may seem like a good idea as it gives you the chance to explore more of port, it’s not always the best idea for a few reasons.

If your first tour runs late, you’ll risk missing the second tour. If both tours are booked through Royal Caribbean you’ll receive a refund for the second tour, but this may not be the case with independent tour providers.

Another reason not to book multiple excursions in one port is that shore excursions can be tiring. Even if you’re just laying in a beach chair in the hot sun, it’s easy to be exhausted and ready to get back onboard after the tour is over.

Instead of booking multiple tours, consider booking a tour in the morning and exploring the port freely in the afternoon. After the tour, feel free to grab lunch, have a few drinks, or shop before getting back onboard.

Not checking transportation logistics

One of the most important things to do before booking a shore excursion is to research how much transportation is required to reach the destination from the ship. Depending on the excursion, transportation time can vary from ~5 minutes to over two hours!

While on a cruise to Greece earlier this year, for example, I booked a 5 hour tour to Shipwreck Beach, named one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. I booked the tour from a local operator when I arrived in port, and the tour looked awesome from the brochure and photos available.

Related: Visiting Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos, Greece

I did not ask any questions about transportation logistics before purchasing the tour, though, so you can imagine my surprise when we boarded a bus instead of a boat! The tour required a 1-hour bus journey across the island to reach the boat.

While I did not mind the bus ride as it allowed me to see more of the island of Zakynthos and the tour was fantastic overall, I realized the importance of doing more research on transportation before booking a tour!

Not checking cancellation policies

Be sure to check cancellation policies for your tour before booking, especially if you’re not entirely sure you plan to do the excursion.

Most Royal Caribbean shore excursions can be cancelled up to 48 hours before arrival in port without penalty, and full refunds will be provided to guests. Royal Caribbean shore excursions involving flights, trains, overnight stays, special events, and Private Journeys must be cancelled at least 30 days prior to sail date.

Independent tours, however, can have varying cancellation policies depending on the tour operator. Read through the fine print when booking a tour independently to ensure you don’t end up disappointed if you want to cancel the tour later on.

Overestimating fitness level

When browsing shore excursions in the Cruise Planner, you can filter tours by fitness level (mild, moderate, strenuous). Some excursions may require hiking on steep trails, kayaking for longer periods of time, etc.

Be sure to consider your fitness level (and the fitness levels of others in your group) before booking an excursion to ensure you will be able to complete the tour successfully and without too much struggle. 

Not considering others in your group

A dream excursion for one passenger can be a nightmare to another. If you’re traveling with friends or family on a cruise, be sure to communicate your shore excursion interests with each other before booking.

If your idea of an amazing day in port is lounging by the beach with a drink in hand but others in your group want to go zip lining, it can lead to tension during the cruise planning process.

Be sure to communicate which types of excursions you’re interested in with your group. If you cannot find something everyone wants to do, consider splitting up and meeting after separate excursions for lunch or a drink before getting back onboard!

Related: Guide to picking the perfect Royal Caribbean shore excursion

Considering others in your group is extra important if you’re traveling with young kids. While you may want to book a walking tour of historic sites in port, this might not be the best option with energetic kids who want to simply run around and have fun.

Look through shore excursions to determine which work best for your family before booking to avoid problems–and tantrums–along the way.

Related: 12 must have Royal Caribbean tips & tricks for families

Not reading the fine print

Our last mistake many cruisers make when booking a shore excursion is not reading the fine print. If you read the fine print, you’ll find that many of these “mistakes” (transportation logistics, cancellation policies, etc.) are listed in the fine print.

Outside of these tips, make sure you read the fine print to check what is and is not included on a tour. Some excursions may include lunch while others may not, so you might want to pack snacks or plan to enjoy lunch in port after the tour.

St KItts volcano

The fine print may also mention what to wear and what to bring on an excursion. You won’t want to show up to a hike with flip flops or a tour of a church in Rome with shorts and a tank top!

Reading the fine print is a surefire way to ensure you won’t encounter any surprises on the excursion.

More shore excursion tips & tricks: