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First Time Cruisers

9 Questions you should always ask on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
07Jan2021

No matter how many cruises you have been on, maximizing your cruise experience is important to everyone.

In order to have the best time possible, there are some important times you should speak to a travel agent, crew member, or even your own family to talk about an issue that can either improve your cruise, or prevent a problem from occurring.

One of the biggest mistakes someone on a cruise ship will make is not saying something if they encounter a problem.  No one wants to be a bother, but the crew members are there to make your vacation as seamless as possible.

1. Can I have my food without that?

Whether you have a food allergy or simply do not like a particular ingredient, always ask the crew member if you can have your meal made without it.

Crew members in the main dining room, Windjammer buffet, or any other dining venue are happy to adjust ingredients to make sure it is to your liking. Food allergies are a major reason many people need a dish adjusted, but you can also ask for changes out of personal preference.

If you want extra cheese, no onions, or sauce on the side, you should absolutely let the crew member taking your order know how you like your food.

It is a good idea if you have a food allergy to speak to the head waiter on the first day of the cruise to ensure the chef can prepare your meal exactly the way you need it, without a delay. 

Once you speak with him or her, you can convey any special requests you may have and get it in place for the rest of your cruise.

You can also send an e-mail request to [email protected]; please include in the e-mail the guests' names, booking number, ship name and sail date.  It's best to make requests like this at least 90 days in advance of your sailing.

Read more25 must-read Royal Caribbean dining secrets

2. Is there a better price?

Just because you booked your cruise, shore excursion or drink package does not mean you are done getting the best price out there.

Prices change, and Royal Caribbean allows a great deal of flexibility in rebooking under the lower price.

Whenever a new sale is announced, it is a good idea to ask your travel agent if the cruise you have booked is any cheaper.  In most countries, you can rebook your cruise at the lower price with no penalty up until final payment date.

Under the Cruise with Confidence program, Royal Caribbean has extended the ability to re-price cruises even after final payment with an expanded Best Price Guarantee program. For the time being, you can reprice your cruise all the way up to 48 hours before it sails if there is a price drop.

The prices of cruise add-ons, like ship wifi, beverage packages, excursions, and specialty dining packages can vary quite a lot.  You can easily cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item if you find a better price later.

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

3. What else is open right now?

When it is time to eat any meal, do not assume your choices are only the main dining room or Windjammer.

Royal Caribbean's cruise ships offer a lot of dining choices, and you should always look at the full breadth of choices for where you can dine at for any meal.

Embarkation day is the perfect time to put this plan into action.  Nearly everyone goes to the Windjammer after they get on the cruise ship, but you can also get food at places like Park Cafe, Cafe Promenade or even a specialty restaurant.

If your ship has Solarium Bistro, this is a vastly underrated complimentary restaurant available for all meals on Oasis and Quantum Class ships.

Johnny Rockets is complimentary for breakfast on Oasis Class ships, and has a fee for lunch and dinner on all ships.

Consult the Cruise Compass for a list of which restaurants are open before you head to the "usual spot".  You can save time and maybe even find something else equally good to enjoy.

Read moreThe 25 BEST Royal Caribbean tips, tricks & hidden secrets!

4. Can I come back later?

No one likes waiting in line, so if you run into a line of people, you should determine if you really need to wait right now.

Sometimes you have no choice to wait in line, such as for a show, but if you run into a line of people waiting for the main dining room, guest services, water slides, or ordering drinks at a bar, you might want to reconsider.

Just like deciding where to eat, you may find it advantageous to come back again later when the line is shorter, or to a different venue entirely.

If you are a suite guest, avoid lines at Guest Services by speaking to the suite concierge.

Long line for the dining room? Grab a drink at a nearby bar until the line diminishes.

Water slide line backed up? Come back closer to dinner time or right when they open in the morning.

Waiting in a line is not completely avoidable, but there are many times when lines can be circumvented by thinking about alternate options.

Read moreHow to avoid the most irritating lines on a Royal Caribbean cruise

5. Am I wasting money right now?

No one wants to waste money on vacation, so it is important to think about what you are buying to ensure you are staying within your budget.

Royal Caribbean is a business after all, and they have some well-thought out ways to get you to spend more money.  When you purchase an unlimited dining package, The Key, or a drink package, you want to make sure you are getting your money's worth out of them.

Before you purchase an add-on, consider your habits and realistically how you think you will take advantage of it. Does it make more sense to buy a 3-night dining package instead of the unlimited dining package? Would you be better off checking your email at free/low cost wifi spots in the islands you are visiting rather than a wifi package?

If you do go ahead with the purchase, think about how to best maximize the value.  Don't skip meals with the dining packages, visit the concierge lounge each night if you are staying in a suite, go to all the limited access opportunities if you bought The Key.

Not fully taking advantage of what you are paying for will end up costing you in the long run, so be certain you are getting all the value from what you spent.

Read moreHow to maximize the value of a cruise ship suite

6. Do I have all the documentation for this cruise?

A common rookie mistake is not checking that you have all the right documentation for a cruise.

If you don't have a passport, be sure to get one. If you do have a passport, double check the expiration date that it will not expire before your cruise ends.

Make sure you booked the cruise under your legal name, which matches what your passport has listed.

Not only should you ask this question, but ask it well in advance of your cruise. All too often, people dig out their passports or birth certificates only to realize it is too late to change things.

Read moreDo you need a passport for a cruise?

7. Will we enjoy this shore excursion?

You might already be in the practice of asking this question, especially if you’ve got kids. When you book a shore excursion, think about everyone in your group and if they will actually enjoy the tour you are going to book.

If someone has mobility issues, will this tour be an issue for that person to get around? Does the excursion you booked that includes lunch have something your children will actually eat? Is your fear of heights going to prevent you from enjoying the zip line?

There are a lot of great tours to choose from, so be sure to double check that it is truly a good fit and you and your family are up to the challenges or demands it may have.

This is especially true of younger children, where there are age restrictions. Just because your child is old enough, does not mean they are necessarily ready to tackle the tour and the last thing you want to do is have a meltdown or crying fit. Some tours could be too intimidating, or physically demanding for the kids, so be realistic about what you book.

A good strategy might be to look for a YouTube video of that tour (or something similar) before your trip to get a sense of if it will be a good fit. You do not want to try to push them to try something that could ruin both of your experiences.

Read moreA complete guide to picking the perfect shore excursions

8. Can you help me with this problem?

Perhaps the most important question you can ask onboard is how to get a problem you are encountering fixed.

If something is disappointing you, or not as expected, you should seek out a crew member to remedy the problem.

Whether it is a broken fixture in your stateroom, another guest causing a problem, or a medical concern, don't just suck it up and let it ruin your cruise.

Instead, speak up and ask a crew member politely how they can assist in getting this problem resolved. 

Crew members are there to make your cruise fantastic, and they will do what they can to address your concerns. Even if you think there probably is no chance they can do something, you never know the lengths crew will go to enhance your trip.

Read moreThe top crew members to find if you have a problem onboard your cruise

9. How are you?

This may seem trivial, but you should absolutely feel free to strike up a conversation with a crew member.

Crew members work very hard, and they are also very friendly and great to talk to (provided they are not super busy with their duties at the moment).

If you are at a bar, or walking out of your stateroom, or at dinner, ask the crew member nearby who is your waiter, attendant or officer about themselves and how long they have worked for the cruise line.  Perhaps ask them for advice on what they like to do in the ports you will be visiting on a cruise.  Crew members are knowledgeable, helpful, and can be a great resource.

Asking someone how they are doing is not limited to crew members, so be sure to also be as friendly to your fellow guests. You never know what new friends you can make on a cruise.

Read more10 of our favorite Royal Caribbean crew members

4 great itineraries (and 1 to avoid) for a first cruise vacation

In:
06Jan2021

Where should your first Royal Caribbean cruise go if you are a first time cruiser?

There are so many different itineraries out there, it can be daunting to pick the right sailing for someone who is brand new to cruising. Between the different destinations, ships, and prices to consider, it can be a bit overwhelming.

The good news is there are rarely any bad itinerary choices for a cruise, regardless of if it is your first or fiftieth sailing. All of Royal Caribbean's cruises are welcoming to all experiences, and more often people that are new to cruising make up the majority of guests onboard.

Choosing where your ship goes is not as critical as it may seem, since the ship you sail on is equally as intriguing as the ports you visit. While cruise ships used to be glorified floating hotels in the past, today the ship you sail on is as big a draw as the ports of call you will visit.

In order to make the choice a bit simpler for someone brand new to cruising, here are a few good choices for a first cruise and one mistake to avoid.

Perfect Day at CocoCay cruise

If all else fails, pick a cruise with a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay for your first cruise.

CocoCay is Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas, and it was recently enhanced in 2019 to offer a crowd-pleasing experience to all.  There are beaches to enjoy, a giant pool to lounge in, water park to check out, and lots of excursions, cabanas and more to enjoy.

Similar to how Royal Caribbean designs its cruise ships, CocoCay is filled with plenty so that there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Read more10 things you didn't know about Perfect Day at CocoCay

Many Caribbean and Bahamas sailings will stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay, so you have a good chance of finding a cruise that goes here.  If you pick a short sailing (3 or 4 nights), almost certainly CocoCay will be the stop you make.  Longer sailings will feature it as part of a list of stops.

CocoCay is a fantastic choice for any sailing, and you should lean towards picking any cruise that goes here.

Read more: Do's and Don'ts of Perfect Day at CocoCay

Western Caribbean

A cruise to the Western Caribbean means visiting places in Mexico and Central America, and this means a good mix of culture, history and food.

Cruises to Mexico have always been popular, and because there is so much to do in this region, it makes it a great place for first time cruisers.

Many Western Caribbean ports are well-known for their snorkeling and scuba options (especially Cozumel and Belize), and you will find lots of tours that can take you to see Mayan ruins, swim with dolphins and more.

The Western Caribbean is also the best place in the Caribbean to find all-inclusive resort options, where you can pay one price and enjoy access to unlimited food and drink, as well as the resort's facilities. These are a big hit with families for the value they provide.  

Read moreThings to do in Cozumel on your Royal Caribbean cruise

Eastern Caribbean

If you love the beach, then you will love an Eastern Caribbean cruise.

The beaches in the Eastern Caribbean are beautiful, and you will find the picturesque white sand and light blue waters so many people dream about in the Virgin Islands and destinations beyond.

Your Eastern Caribbean cruise may also include a stop at Royal Caribbean's other private destination, Labadee.  Labadee may not offer all the whiz-bang choices that CocoCay does, but it makes up for it in a classic and relaxing beach day. 

If you enjoy more than just laying around the beach, Labadee has a giant zip line, alpine coaster and excursions to book too.

The Eastern Caribbean is also known for great shopping, as well as where you can visit Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Read moreDo's & Don'ts of Labadee

Round trip Alaska

While a warm Caribbean sailing usually draws the attention of first time cruisers, an Alaska cruise is not to be overlooked either.

Alaska is worthy of visiting for just about anyone, and a cruise is a great way to see The Last Frontier.

If you do decide to go on an Alaska cruise, be sure to book a round trip cruise, as opposed to one that begins in one port and ends in another.  

Round trip cruises are easier to plan, and they sail from Seattle (instead of an international flight to Canada).  These sailings are also on larger and newer cruise ships, which are more welcoming to new cruisers.

Read more6 mistakes & 3 things we did right on our Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska

Avoid long cruises

If there is one itinerary to avoid, it would be a cruise longer than 7-nights in duration, such as a repositioning cruise.

These cruises are intriguing, but they may simply be a bit too overwhelming for a first time cruiser.  

Once your sailing gets beyond 7-nights, you start to rack up a lot of sea days and first time cruisers would be best served with a sailing that has a good mix of sea days and port days, rather than a heavy dose of just one.

Repositioning sailings (cruises that begin in one port and end in another) are fun for established cruisers, but the many sea days and logistics in planning getting to and home from the cruise make it not recommended for a first sailing.

The other issue with any cruise longer than 7-nights is they are prohibited by the U.S. government for the time being.

Save these cruises for once you have a couple of other cruises under your belt.

Read moreRepositioning cruises 2021 & 2022

How do you get a free Royal Caribbean cruise?

In:
05Jan2021

Believe it or not, you can get a free Royal Caribbean cruise. For reals.

Free cruise offers always sound suspicious, and with good reason. There are plenty of scams on the internet that promise free cruises, but there are also some sanctioned ways to get a free cruise.

What constitutes "free"? Essentially, an offer to not pay anything more for the cruise fare (other than perhaps taxes and fees).  That is not to say you may not have to spend money elsewhere in order to qualify for a free cruise.

In addition, a free cruise means you will still have to pay for cruise add-on costs, such as gratuities, shore excursions, drinks, etc. Plus there are other travel expenses that may be required to get you to and from the cruise.

Here is what you need (in addition to a little bit of luck) to snag a free cruise.

Casino offers

If you gamble enough in the casino on a Royal Caribbean cruise, you can qualify for a free cruise (as well as other offers and discounts).

Casino Royale recognizes its top spenders, much like Crown and Anchor Society gives rewards to people who cruise the most.

If you can spend enough in the casino on a few cruises to qualify for entry into the program, free cruises are one of the perks regularly offered to members.

The best way to get into Casino Royale as a member is to speak to the casino host once you get on a cruise and ask to be tracked in order to join the program.

Organize a group

If you cruise with enough friends or family, you could get a free cruise for yourself too.

Typically a group can be created if 16 full-fare guests in eight staterooms are booked with the same travel agent. If so, you can qualify to be the tour leader (sometimes called tour conductor) and create a group.

By creating a group with the Royal Caribbean groups department, the tour leader can earn a percentage of the cost of all the rooms that can be redeemed towards the cost of your cruise fare.

The amount of credit you get depends on what your friends or family book.  The more they spend on the rooms, the more you get in tour conductor credits.

You could also just pocket the money or apply it in other ways to the cruise.  

Being a tour conductor is one of the best ways to spend as little as possible and get a free cruise among all of the methods outlined in this post.

Read moreHow to get cheap cruise deals

Credit card points

Depending on the credit card you have, there may be an option to pay down the cost of a cruise or even earn a free sailing.

The Royal Caribbean credit card is the simplest way to earn free cruises. Spend enough on your credit card to earn points, and with enough points saved, you can redeem the points for a free cruise.

Other credit cards partner with various outlets to provide ways to redeem their points for travel, including cruises.

Using credit card points to redeem a free cruise is rarely a great value in terms of credit card point strategies, but it is an option for anyone with a lot of points.

Read moreHow to book a cruise with your credit card reward points

Contests

On some rare occasions, there are actually free cruises offered in contests.  

Royal Caribbean will infrequently offer a contest for a free cruise, but they are few and far between.

More commonly, you may find local radio stations or car dealerships offering a free cruise from time to time.

The bottom line is contest to offer free cruises are very rare, but they do exist. It is very important to be leery of any free offer, especially offers you see on social media. Double check the entity offering is legitimate and not a copycat information collecting scam.

Mobile games

There is a free game you can play on your computer or mobile device called MyVegas, which from time to time offers free cruises and onboard credit.

Playing MyVegas means choosing between different games, such as blackjack or slots, and winning points that go towards your profile.The games reward you for getting to the next level.

If you play the game regularly and earn enough points, you can actually cash out the points for special offers, including free cruises or onboard credits. MyVegas offers these kind of offers for other cruise lines as well, including MSC or Norwegian Cruise Line.

The availability of a free Royal Caribbean cruise will vary and is not always available as an option.

Read more5 Royal Caribbean things you had no idea existed

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

In:
11Sep2020

One of the most common mistakes a first time cruiser will make is to fly on the day of your cruise.

Booking a flight for the same day your cruise begins seems like it would not be a problem, but it could result in missing your cruise vacation completely.

Tempting fate

While most flights are going to be on time and without incident, travel delays do occur with some frequency and if you end up on the wrong side of a delay, it could create a giant fiasco.

Even though you are able to board your Royal Caribbean cruise in the early afternoon (and later arrival times could be coming soon), planning to fly in the same day your cruise departs is just too risky.

Having a tight schedule of landing, collecting your luggage, and then getting to the port leaves little wiggle room for any kind of delay.

Flight delays or cancellations, bad weather near your house, car breakdowns and a variety of other unforeseen possibilities can wreak havoc on your schedule.

Also consider how airlines have severely cut back on the number of flights they offer due to weaker demand for air travel, and you leave yourself few choices if your flight is delayed.

If your delayed travel plans cause you to miss embarkation of the cruise ship, you either have to pay to meet the ship at its next port of call, or simply give up on the trip completely with no refund for missing it.

Royal Caribbean (nor any cruise line) will not refund your money if you miss the cruise due to a travel delay.  Trip insurance might pick up some of the tab, but it will not allow you to actually go on the cruise vacation you planned and dreamed about.

Fly in a day early

The way around this potential travel nightmare is to fly into the city your cruise departs from at least one day ahead of time.

Flying in on the day of your cruise is just too risky. Even if you manage to arrive with no travel delays, you are just plain lucky because airline delays are too common an occurence.

What you should do instead is plan to fly in at least one day early.  Not only will arriving a day or two before your cruise departs provide more than enough buffer for travel delays not to impact your cruise vacation, it will also start your vacation a little earlier.

In addition, flying in early means significantly less stress for everyone. The last thing you want to do is start your vacation worrying every minute until you arrive in your embarkation port that a travel delay could appear. Just the lingering thought of a delay is enough to make your vacation anything but relaxing.

What to do if you have to fly the same day

Some people may not be able to do fly in early, due to work schedules or crippling high airfare prices. If you have no choice but to fly in the same day, make sure you take a few critical steps (including packing plenty of patience).

Try to book the first flight of the day.  Ideally, you want a flight where the plane is already at the airport from the night before, so there are no potential delays related to your aircraft coming from somewhere else. This may mean a super early flight, but early morning flights have less delays since storms tend to occur later in the day and your plane is ready for passengers.

You should also consider buying your airfare through Royal Caribbean.  The Air2Sea program offers guests assistance related to travel disruptuons.  The Air2Sea team can provide air re-accommodation, or hotel and ground transportation if needed. The Emergency Travel team will work with you to find accommodations on the next available flight. In some instances, same day viable flight options may not be available, and in those instances Air2Sea will accommodate you to the next available port where you may legally join the ship.

What is the worst Royal Caribbean ship?

In:
21Aug2020

Many first time cruisers are eager to learn about the best Royal Caribbean ship to sail on, so a common question asked is which cruise ships should be avoided.

The notion of a "worst Royal Caribbean ship" may make sense in a way, because so many other aspects of life we gauged by best versus worst.  However, when it comes to Royal Caribbean ships, the answer is not so straight forward.

If you are trying to determine the ships to avoid, it has less to do with an inherit flaw or problem with the ship, and more to do with what you want in a cruise ship.

Finding the best cruise ship for you

The simple answer is there is no single worst Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the fleet, because each cruise ship offers a different experience that caters to specific styles of cruising.

Just like a vacation to the Grand Canyon or Chicago may appeal to certain people as an amazing trip while others cringe at the idea, cruise ships come in different sizes and with different amenities to carry a certain appeal.

When you pick the right Royal Caribbean cruise ship to sail on, it is a question of what do you want the ship to have onboard, and is the ship you are considering have that.

A very common mistake first time cruisers make is not understanding the features and amenities each ship offers guests, and booking a ship primarily based on price because they assume the ships are all the same.

So the question really is, "what is the worst Royal Caribbean ship for you?".

What the ship offers and doesn't offer

The key to finding the right ship for you is to do a little research into what makes each ship unique, and if that ship has the features, activities, and signature entertainment you want in a ship.

With about 26 ships in the fleet, Royal Caribbean has customized each vessel to make it stand out just a bit from the rest. Water slides, production shows, public spaces and dining choices are just some of the ways a cruise ship can differentiate itself.

While first time cruisers may not know exactly what they want in a ship before stepping foot onboard, there are certain expectations guests come with based on commercial advertising, as well as stories from friends and family.

Before booking a cruise vacation, you will want to check out the special features available on that vessel, as well as what it lacks.

Here is a guide for the major considerations most cruiser seem to care the most about:

  • Which pool deck activities does it offer? (water slides, pools, outdoor features)
  • Which specialty restaurants are available onboard?
  • Does the ship have the newest thrill attractions?
  • Does the ship have a nursery for children under 36 months old?
  • Which things to do for families and kids are available?

These are starting points, but are a good example of the subjective concerns you may have when choosing the right ship.

How to learn what a ship offers

Through the power of the internet, it is pretty easy to get a good idea of what is available to do on any Royal Caribbean ship.

The top starting points for learning about any Royal Caribbean ship is past Cruise Compasses, YouTube videos, and a good travel agent.

Royal Caribbean distributes on its ships a daily guide to activities and things to do in something called a Cruise Compass. Reading a past Cruise Compass provides a ballpark idea of expectations since sailings on a particular ship do not change that much from week to week in terms of the activities or entertainment offered. There will be some discrepancies, like perhaps the movie selection or comedian, but you will get a general idea of what to expect.

Watching a YouTube video allows anyone to visualize the flow of a cruise ship, and get a good understanding of what is onboard. There are tons of videos that feature walkthroughs, reviews, and good breakdowns of ships. YouTube blends entertainment, information, and day dreaming together seamlessly and it is so easy to browse and learn about Royal Caribbean ships, port stops, and nearly everything onboard.

If you are still a little unsure which ship might be best, leveraging a good travel agent is a tried-and-true strategy. A good travel agent that specializes in cruising can really help make your first Royal Caribbean cruise a big success.  They will help navigate you throughout the whole booking process and be your guide to what makes the most sense for your family. They can answer most questions, and help get you the best price.

Tips for picking a great ship

The right ship for you will depend on what you like and don't like, but I want to provide some basic tips to remember when choosing.

  • The newest and recently refurbished cruise ships are always safe choices for most families. Royal Caribbean has put its latest and greatest innovations and offerings on these ships, and are generally good starting points for new cruisers.
  • Don't book a cruise purely based on price. You can find a deal on just about any Royal Caribbean ship, so avoid the temptation to book whatever is the cheapest ship sailing.
  • Size is not everything when it comes to ships. Bigger ships offer more space for whizz-bang amenities, but smaller ships offer a more intimate and classic cruising experience.  
  • Where your ship sails to is an important factor, so be sure to weigh what each port of call offers and the appeal of different itineraries.

What's the difference between cruise lines?

In:
17Aug2020

While this blog focuses on Royal Caribbean, you might be wondering what makes this cruise line from others and what the major differences are between each one.

There are a number of cruise lines to choose from, and each cruise line offers their own style and approach to what a cruise vacation is all about.

Types of cruise lines

Before you can pick one cruise line, you should know there are a few categories of cruise lines to consider.

Just like there are different types of automobiles (compacts, luxury, SUVs, et al), there are different types of cruise lines that target different demographics and prices.

Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney and Norwegian are just a few of the mass-market cruise lines that appeal to all ages, and offer contemporary pricing that is affordable by most people. These cruise lines will see a good mix of ages, and offer activities and things to do for the young and old, and will sail to destinations around the world, although primarily focus on the major cruise markets, such as the Caribbean or Europe.

Premium cruise lines offer an elevated experience, and tend to offer a "plussed" version of what the mass-market cruise lines have onboard. Princess, Celebrity, Holland America or Oceania are good examples of these types of cruise lines, and they are still generally large ships with upgraded amenities. In addition, they may offer longer and/or more varied itineraries.

Luxury cruise lines offer a more intimate cruise experience on substantially smaller vessels that focus on the individual experience. These cruise lines are all about offering a personalized experience on ships that do not rely on whizzbang features.  This includes SilverSea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and others. Some luxury cruise lines are known as expedition lines, which means they offer luxurious cruises to far off destinations that most cruise lines could never go to due to ship size or distance.

There are still other cruise lines that straddle the line between these major categories. The major differences between each of these cruise lines is primarily price, size of the ships, and where it sails.

How to pick a cruise line

When picking between the cruise lines, you want to determine what they offer (and don't offer) to ensure it matches with what you want in a vacation.

While it is true that most cruise lines have more in common than not, there are some substantial differences when it comes to the onboard experience overall. Cruise lines may market themselves as offering something for everyone, but each line has its own strengths that can sway the decision depending on the person.

The decision of which cruise line to pick usually boils down to three major factors: price, where it sails, and what the ship offers.

Picking a cruise line is less important as picking the right ship for you.  Most cruise lines have quite a few ships in their fleet, and they are not carbon copies of each other.

If you take Royal Caribbean International for example, they have 26 ships in their fleet that are of various sizes and pricing and stateroom options that run the gamut of choices. Whether you are cruising as a family, looking for an empty nester getaway or spring break college vacation, there is something to be found for each group.

Ultimately, each cruise line has its own DNA to its approach to cruising.  Disney Cruise Line will offer a heavy focus on family cruising and incorporation of the brand's library of films. Carnival Cruise Line is about offering a party at sea. Celebrity Cruise Line likes to offer an upscale experience to contemporary cruising. Norwegian Cruise Line bucks the trend of cruise tradition and takes a freestyle approach to their vacations.

If you are looking for cruise ships that pack a lot into the onboard experience, where the ship is the destination, then the mainstream cruise lines and premium cruise lines are great choices.

If you are looking to splurge and want to see the world at the same time, a luxury cruise line will take you there and personalize the trip along the way.

Which cruise line should I choose?

First and foremost, determine your budget, as no choice will matter if you cannot afford it.

If you are new to cruising and do not know what to expect, a mainstream cruise line is usually a good starting point. There is enough variety between the ships in the major cruise lines to cater to most needs. If you have kids, this is where you want to be.

If you like the finer things in life, and are willing to pay for them, a luxury cruise line will offer the kind of pampering and exotic destinations that will be sure to impress friends back at the country club.

Think of the premium cruise lines as a mix of fun things to do on the ship, along with an upgraded experience. 

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer.  Cruises are an exciting adventure, and you will find your preferred approach to it and which cruise line works best. It is rare to make a terrible decision in cruise line, so embrace the opportunity and give a couple a try.

Royal Caribbean FAQ

In:
13Aug2020

If you have a Royal Caribbean cruise booked, or are thinking of booking one, then you probably have a lot of questions.  

Even the most seasoned cruisers will have a query or two, so I have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about Royal Caribbean.

Hopefully these will save you time later and put your mind at ease with what to expect on your cruise.

Booking a cruise

When should I book a cruise?

If you want to get the best possible price on your cruise, then you should try to book as soon as you can.

Ideally, you can take advantage of lower prices by booking a cruise 12, 18 or even 24 months in advance so that you can find the best cabin selection and lowest prices.

Once a sailing is open for booking, you may reserve a cabin at any point all the way until the week of the sailing.  Of course, capacity is limited and options will dwindle while prices rise over time.

How do I get the best deal on a cruise?

There are a few good strategies for getting the best price on a cruise and spend less overall.

Cruising on the cheap means looking beyond the obvious choices for a cruise. Here are a few good ways to save money:

I also recommend working with a good travel agent to not only find the best pricing, but to help answer common questions and concerns. A good travel agent should cost you nothing to use, and they are very helpful in scenarios you never even imagined.

The ships

Which is the best Royal Caribbean cruise ship?

While this is a common question, the best cruise ship depends on what you want and like for your cruise.

Each ship offers different activities, amenities, entertainment and special features. The key is finding the ship that offers the right combination of these that appeal to you, while also sailing to the places you would like to visit.

Some important considerations you should look at in any ship is what it offers in:

  • Kids Programming
  • Signature activities (waterslides, Broadway shows, thrill attractions, open spaces, et al)
  • Where it is sailing

What are the different classes of Royal Caribbean ships?

Royal Caribbean categorizes its cruise ships into classes, similar to auto manufacturers creating different models of cars.

There are eight different Royal Caribbean ship classes, and within each class there can be a differentiating options and add-ons that make ships different from each other.

The Oasis Class ships are the largest ships in the world, while the Quantum Class offer some of the latest innovations with a large size as well.

The Freedom and Voyager Class ships are a generation older, but are still large cruise ships that have recently been upgraded as part of the Royal Amplified program.

The Radiance and Vision Class ships combine a small size with many activities that have been added over the years. These are stylish ships that offer a refined and fun cruise atmosphere.

Majesty & Empress of the Seas are the oldest ships in the fleet, but they offer a more intimate setting than other larger classes.

Packing

What should I pack for my Royal Caribbean cruise?

We all know that feeling... you are getting ready for your vacation, but you cannot shake that feeling that you are forgetting something.

You should begin with personal items that you will need during your cruise, such as medications and prescription medicine.  It is a good idea to pack extra medicine in case of a travel delay getting home.

Onboard the ship, you will need not outfits and clothes for time onboard, on shore, in the pool, and out for dinner. If you are cruising to the Caribbean, Mexico or other warm weather destinations, bring a hat for protection from the sun. If your cruise vacation will take you to Alaska, Canada & New England or Northern Europe, be sure to pack a jacket and several sweaters.

Be sure to pack a bathing suit, but you will not need towels as you can borrow them from the cruise line anytime you want.

What are dress codes?

The dress code rules for Royal Caribbean provide dress suggestions for the three types of dress codes onboard: casual, smart casual and formal.

  • Casual: You’re on vacation – relax! Jeans, polos, sundresses and blouses are all the right amount of laid back. Please keep swimwear to the Pool Deck. Shorts are welcomed for breakfast and lunch.
  • Smart Casual: Think of this as a step up from your typical dinner wear. Dress to impress with collared shirts, dresses, skirts and blouses, or pantsuits. Jackets, sports coats and blazers are snazzy and welcomed. 
  • Formal: Make it a night out in your best black-tie look – suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses or evening gowns. There can be 1-3 formal nights during a sailing and is at the ship’s discretion.

In practice, dress codes are infrequently enforced by the main dining room staff. 

If you are asking does everyone dress up to that extent, the answer is a resounding no. If you walk the Royal Promenade or around the Centrum of a Royal Caribbean ship around dinner time on formal night, you will spot plenty of people dressed to these specifications, but many opt for a more casual (but still dressed up) approach. Collared shirts with no jacket or tie for men, or blouses and skirts or leggings for ladies is common as well.

There can be 1-3 formal nights during a sailing and is at the ship’s discretion.

Dining

What dining options are included on my cruise?

Every Royal Caribbean ship offers a combination of complimentary and extra-cost dining choices. Keep in mind there is a great variety of complimentary dining choices that will cost you nothing extra.

Full meals for breakfast, lunch (on sea days) and dinner are available in the main dining room, as well as the Windjammer buffet.  Depending on the ship, there are also complimentary grab-and-go dining choices you can go to for a snack or even a meal.

You also have the choice of specialty restaurants that cost extra, but offer different cuisines and atmosphere not available elsewhere on the ship.

What if I have special dietary requirements?

Royal Caribbean is very accommodating when it comes to guests who have special dietary needs. The cruise line can handle a number of requests, such as food allergies, Gluten-free, Kosher, Low-fat, and Low-sodium.

Vegetarian Meals (including Indian-style vegetarian) are available on all menus in the Dining Room and Windjammer Cafe every day. Guests do not need to make a special request for these meals.

Lactose-free/soy milk, Ensure, and kosher meals are available no extra charge. All you have to do is notify Royal Caribbean at least 45 days prior to sailing (90 days for European/South American Itineraries).

For any and all dietary requests, contact your travel agent or Certified Vacation Planner and request that the remark be noted in your reservation details. If you made your reservation online at royalcaribbean.com you may add your request to the "update personal information." section. You may also send an e-mail request to [email protected]; please include in the e-mail the guests' names, booking number, ship name and sail date. E-mails will receive an automated response. 

Drinks

What drinks are included with my cruise?

Royal Caribbean provides all its guests on all its cruise ships a few different drinks throughout the day that are included in your cruise fare.   These drinks include

  • tap water
  • milk
  • tea
  • coffee (regular and decaf)
  • lemonade
  • iced tea
  • flavored waters
  • juices (at breakfast and not fresh squeezed)
  • Hot chocolate (via instant packets)

These drinks are available throughout your cruise at a number of locations, so there will always be somewhere to get something to drink for free.

Other beverages, such as beer, wine, soda, espresso and bottled water cost extra.

Is a Royal Caribbean drink package worth it?

A very popular choice for guests who want to enjoy unlimited extra-cost beverages for a fixed cost is to buy a drink package.

There is no denying that a drink package has the potential to save money, but it depends on how you maximize its value.

If you can drink enough every day of the cruise, want to sample a wide variety of beverages, and like the convenience it offers, then a Royal Caribbean drink package is definitely worth it.

You do not need to get a drink package, but for many guests, the ability to lock in the price of a drink package and enjoy unlimited drinks without concern of spending too much is a very popular incentive.

Costs

What is included in my cruise fare?

A cruise remains a really good vacation value, especially when you factor in meals and entertainment.  Over the years, Royal Caribbean has realized some of its guests prefer to add onto the core experience, and began offering more options to tack onto their vacation.

Your cruse fare includes some basics:

  • Entertainment & Nightlife
    • Broadway shows
    • Live music and comedy shows
    • Aqua shows and ice-skating shows
    • Parades and parties on the Royal Promenade
    • Comedy and live jazz club
    • Nightclubs, karaoke and sing-along piano bars
    • Lounge games and contests, such as trivia, Battle of the Sexes and more
  • Signature Activities
    • FlowRider® surf simulator
    • Rock Climbing Wall
    • Quantum Class
      • RipCord® by iFLY® skydiving simulator
      • North Star observation capsule
      • SeaPlex play space with bumper cars, roller skating, trapeze school, video games and more
    • Oasis Class
      • Zip Line
    • Multi-level waterslides and slides on select ships
  • Meals, beverages & room service
    • Main dining room
    • Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in various venues throughout each ship
    • Windjammer casual buffet on every ship, open for every meal
    • Variety of juices, teas, coffees, soft drinks and water throughout the ship and with meals
  • Kids & Teens
    • Adventure Ocean Youth Program
    • DreamWorks Experience
    • Fuel teen club
    • Teen lounge area with movies, games and live DJ
  • Fitness Center & Sports Activities
    • State-of-the-art fitness center
    • Table tennis
    • Full-size basketball and sports court
    • Group fitness classes, such as sunrise stretch, fab abs, dancing, meditation and more
    • Seminars on topics like weight loss, reflexology, stargazing and more
    • Deck Games — Volleyball, pool games, tug of war and other active challenges
    • Running / jogging track
  • Pools & Outdoor amenities
    • Outdoor poolside movies
    • Adults-only Solarium
    • Multiple whirlpools
    • Traditional swimming pools plus beach ambience areas and sports zones
    • H2O Zone and Splashaway Bay for kids

Royal Caribbean cruises are not all inclusive, but you can certainly go your entire cruise without spending anything extra.  

Royal Caribbean has designed its ships to be "modular", where you can choose to add certain extras if you prefer.

Are shows included on Royal Caribbean?

The stage shows, and so much of the live entertainment onboard, is included with your cruise fare.

Royal Caribbean is known for its Broadway shows, as well as original productions found in various theaters around the ship. These are all included in your cruise fare.

Other activities and events, such as trivia, game shows and dance classes are also included.

Sometimes Royal Caribbean may offer an experience or backstage tour that costs extra, but these are not required to experience the performances.

Important rules

What you aren't allowed to bring onboard

You should be aware there are some important rules about what you cannot bring on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

For the safety and well-being of all guests, certain items are prohibited from being brought onboard.

Prohibited items that may not be brought on your cruise include:

  • Firearms & Ammunition, including realistic replicas.
  • Sharp Objects, including all knives and scissors. (Note: Personal grooming items such as safety razors are allowed. Scissors with blade length less than 4 inches are allowed.)
  • Illegal Drugs & Substances
  • CBD Oil / CBD Products
  • Candles, Incense, Coffee Makers, Clothes Irons, Travel Steamers & Hot Plates. (Items that generate heat or produce an open flame. This includes heating pads, clothing irons, hotplates, candles, incense and any other item that may create a fire hazard. NOTE: The only exception to this policy are curling irons and hair straighteners. Matches and normal lighteners are allowed onboard. However ""torch lighters"" and novelty lighters that look like guns are not allowed onboard. Torch lighters emit a powerful concentrated flame, and therefore are prohibited.
  • Hoverboards
  • Martial Arts, Self Defense, and Sports Gear, including handcuffs, pepper spray, night sticks.
  • Flammable Liquids and Explosives, including lighter fluid and fireworks.
  • Hookahs & Water Hookah Pipes.
  • HAM Radios
  • Baby Monitors
  • Electrical Extension Cords
  • Dangerous Chemicals, including bleach and paint.
  • Perishable Food & Meat Products
  • Alcoholic Beverages (except two bottles of wine on embarkation day)

These and other similar items will be confiscated upon being found. Alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, flammable liquids, explosives, and dangerous chemicals will not be returned.

You cannot share drink packages

Let me be perfectly clear: it is absolutely forbidden to share the Royal Caribbean drink package benefits with anyone else. Period.

Royal Caribbean warns that guests who share a drink with someone who does not have a drink package can risk having their drink package benefits revoked with no refund.  

The package is intended for only the guest who buys the package.  If you want to buy a drink for someone else, you can do so and pay for it individually along side your drink package transaction.

Kids

What's available for kids on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

The heart of Royal Caribbean offerings for kids is the Adventure Ocean program, which offers supervised programming for children of nearly any age.

Nurseries are available on most ships for toddlers 6 months to 36 months old, where parents can drop children off throughout the day and evening. Use of the nursery comes at an hourly charge. Young children can enjoy soft play areas and age-appropriate toys, as well as cribs and cots for napping or sleeping.

For children 3 years old through 11 years old, Adventure Ocean is available for no additional cost every day of your cruise. There's a lot for kids to do here and the programs specialize for each age group.  It's a mix of learning, play time and socializing.

Kids are checked in and out by parents and it's fully supervised by Royal Caribbean staff. The requirement for children to participate is to be at least 3 years old and be fully potty trained.  There are after hours programs offered as well in Adventure Ocean for an hourly fee if parents want their kids to have supervision later into the evening.

The teens club is for older kids through 17 years old, which is about empowering teens to do their own thing but still offer activities and fun events to help introduce everyone.

There are teen-only spots onboard the ship where they can come and go as they please. Each day there are teen only events planned in the Cruise Planner, where teens can have dedicated time to enjoy special activities. 

WiFi

Is internet access available on Royal Caribbean?

All Royal Caribbean ships offer internet at sea access for an additional cost.

Royal Caribbean calls its internet service "Voom", and it relies on satellite technology for staying connected.

Depending on the ship, the actual speeds and performance will vary. On Oasis and Quantum class ships, you can easily stream video from services like Hulu or Netflix, or engage in Facetime and Skype video calls.

Some other ships, notably Royal Caribbean ships that spend time outside the United States, the speeds may not be quite as fast, but fleetwide, the Voom service is significantly better than onboard internet available through other cruise lines.

How much does WiFi cost?

The cost of a Wi-Fi internet package varies depending on the number of devices and the service package purchased. 

Royal Caribbean offers unlimited plans that can be purchased onboard the ship or pre-purchased prior to the cruise. 

Without a doubt, you will save money by pre-purchasing your Voom internet package via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.

Prices begin at $15.99 per device, per day for 1 device on the Surf (slower) access plan, and $19.99 per device, per day for 1 device on the Surf & Stream (faster) access plan.

Still have a question?

If you still have a question, or are unsure about something mentioned here, be sure to ask a question on our message boards!

First time cruisers: What drinks are included with your Royal Caribbean cruise?

In:
11Aug2020

There is so much to see and do onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, and for a lot of guests, dining is a big part of that activity.  

Even if you aren't a foodie you still will be eating quite a few meals onboard and that has some folks wondering which drinks are included and which drinks cost extra.  Here is a quick guide to what you need to know about the drinks on a Royal Caribbean ship.

What Royal Caribbean includes

Royal Caribbean provides all its guests on all its cruise ships a few different drinks throughout the day that are included in your cruise fare.   These drinks include

  • tap water
  • milk
  • tea
  • coffee (regular and decaf)
  • lemonade
  • iced tea
  • flavored waters
  • juices (at breakfast and not fresh squeezed)
  • Hot chocolate (via instant packets)

These drinks are available throughout your cruise at a number of locations, so there will always be somewhere to get something to drink for free.

What costs extra

Alternatively, guests may purchase other beverages for an additional cost during the cruise.

This list is essentially anything else available onboard, including

  • soda
  • beer
  • wine
  • liquor
  • cocktails
  • premium coffee and tea, such as Starbucks
  • bottled water (still or sparkling)
  • fresh squeezed juice

For all of these drinks, you may purchase each drink individually or purchase a beverage package that will give you either a set allotment of beverages or unlimited access onboard to them.

Where to get premium beverages for free

During your cruise, there are opportunities to get drinks that would otherwise cost extra for free.  If you keep an eye on your Cruise Compass, you should see many, if not all, of these opportunities on your next cruise.

Crown and Anchor members with level Diamond or above

Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members will get free alcoholic drinks before dinner.  Since this post is aimed at first time cruisers, that is probably not you, but it is something to keep in mind for the future.

Welcome Back Parties

If you are at least a Gold member or above in Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Society, there are welcome back parties held, where wine and cocktails are served for free.

Art Auctions

There will be regularly held art auctions onboard your cruise and as a means of enticing guests to attend, there is complimentary champagne available.

Suite Guests ( excluding Junior Suites)

Guests that are staying in a suite will have access to free drinks in the Concierge Lounge.

How to avoid the most irritating lines on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
08Aug2020

Just like the supermarket, DMV, baseball games and so many other aspects of life, waiting in a line on a Royal Caribbean cruise is going to happen sooner or later.

Perhaps part of Royal Caribbean's plans once cruising resumes is to implement new means to spread guests out in order to enforce social distancing, but you will likely run into an extended wait during your cruise.

While you cannot avoid waiting at all, there are some easy ways to mitigate these lines and reduce your stress at the same time.

Lines getting back on a ship

When you return to your cruise ship after a fun day on a shore excursion, lines can develop at the gangway to get back onboard the ship.

Usually in the afternoon when most tours wrap up, many guests return to the ship and lines can develop, with often times there being lines that lack shade.

The easiest strategy is to find a spot in the port area where you can sit down in the shade and keep an eye on the line while enjoying the port area.  Quite often, there are bars and restaurants set up near the pier that you could enjoy a drink while seeing when the line shortens.

Another strategy is to plan to return to the ship significantly earlier or later than most others. If you come back early, you sacrifice time in port but can pretty much walk back onboard.  Likewise, if you wait until the last couple of hours your ship is in port, you may find shorter lines since most others have returned.

One last option is if you bought The Key (or are a Star or Sky Class guest or Pinnacle member), you can take advantage of Fast Track boarding

Crowded Windjammer buffet

Dreaming of a lovely breakfast with a cup of coffee, bagel, lox, cream cheese and pile of bacon to go with it? So is everyone else on the ship, and that leads to a busy buffet.

The best way to avoid lines in the Windjammer buffet is to either have breakfast early (before 8:30am) or late (after 10am).

If you like your 9am breakfast, then consider an alternative option for breakfast such as:

  • Cafe Promenade
  • Johnny Rockets (Oasis Class ships only)
  • Park Cafe
  • Solarium Bistro
  • Coastal Kitchen (suite guests only)

These locations are vastly less crowded and allow you to get in and out with substantially less waits.

Waiting to get into the main dining room

If you have traditional dinner, you will inevitably find a lot of guests waiting outside the main dining room doors for them to open. 

Rather than join the masses and stand around, seek out an entertainer in one of the nearby bars, or play a few games in the casino. 

There is usually something else going on nearby, and that way if you wait until a few minutes after the doors open, you will find no wait to get in.

Waiting to get off the ship on the last day

Admittedly I do not have a great way around this line, but there are some ways to make it easier on yourself.

The last day of your cruise is when everyone has to get off the ship, and you are almost certainly going to encounter a line somewhere.  Not only is there a line to get off the ship, but everyone is tired from waking up early and disappointed their cruise is over.  It is a recipe for a lot of grumpy people.

The best strategy for an easy disembarkation is to stay in a suite.  Suite guests get escorted off the ship by the Suite Concierge and it is the simplest (albeit expensive) approach.

If staying in a suite is not practical, you should either plan to be among the first off the ship or the last.  Even if you wake up at 6am and get ready to go bright and early before the ship even docks, you will be waiting around with the other early birds.

The problem with waiting to be among the last get off the ship is there is nothing to do onboard.  You are requested to leave your staterooms by a certain time, and all the venues are closed.  So you could sit around on the pool deck one last time and enjoy the ocean breeze while the line winds down.

Muster drill

This used to be a quagmire of people trying to leave their muster stations, but Royal Caribbean has solved this for everyone.

Royal Caribbean recently announced an electronic muster drill process it will implement when cruises resume known as Muster 2.0.

Rather than going to a muster station, standing around and listening to safety instructions, guests can use mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs to learn important safety information.

One on the cruise ship, guests have a set time (indicated by a timer in the app) during which muster drill must be completed by all of the passengers.

So rejoice that we will never have to deal with this problem again.

Top 10 cruise questions first time cruisers are too shy to ask

In:
04Aug2020

New cruisers often have questions about what to do on a cruise, but are to timid to ask if they are doing the right thing or not.

Cruises are a very welcoming type of vacation, but there are definitely some traditions and unwritten rules that you should be aware of before you step foot onboard.

If you are among the many people going on your first cruise, here are the top questions newbies have but are too shy to ask (so I will answer them for you).

How much food can I order at the main dining room?

When you eat in the main dining room, nearly the entire menu is complimentary (there are a few add-ons for dinner that cost extra, like lobster) and you can order as much food as you want.

You can (and should) feel free to order as much as you want. In fact, the staff will encourage you to do so as a means of trying things out.

Unlike a land-based restaurant, the main dining room food is included and there are no limits on what you can order. Whether you cannot choose between two options, or want to nibble on a few different appetizers, you can order as much as you like from the menu.

You can even order more food in the middle of the meal.  If an appetizer or entree does not satisfy, you can always order something else off the menu.

Can I change tables if I don't like the people sitting with us at dinner?

Meeting people on a cruise is a fun maritime tradition, but occasionally you might be seated at dinner with someone that just does not jive with your personality.

The good news is you can be re-seated upon request if the people you are seated with are not a good fit. All you need to do is speak to the head waiter and request a table change.

You might be able to get a table alone, or be moved to a different table with different table mates. Occasionally, you may need to change your dining time or between traditional and My Time Dining.

Should I pack beach towels for the cruise?

After you break out your suitcases to pack all your clothes, be sure to leave your beach towels at home.

Royal Caribbean provides towels for guests to use at the pools on its ships and to take off the ship on shore excursions.

You can get as many towels as you need from the pool deck, and exchange them for clean ones at anytime.

Keep in mind that you just need to bring the towels back before the cruise ends, or Royal Caribbean will charge you a $25 per towel fee.  

How do I get a chair by the pool?

You may have heard that on sea days, the pool deck can get busy with lots of guests wanting to enjoy fun in the sun.

If you are looking to get pool chairs, you can definitely get chairs with a little bit of hustle.

The easiest way to get chairs is to make sure you get up to the pool deck early enough in the morning.  If you arrive before 11am, there are usually some chairs around. Moreover, there are chairs all around the pool deck, with plenty of extra chairs if you do not need to be in view of the pool.

Another tip is to not be shy about asking other guests if chairs are being used. 

Do I have to tip everyone?

Gratuity on a Royal Caribbean cruise has gotten easier over the last few years, but tipping is definitely part of the cruise culture.

All guests have the choice of pre-paying their gratuities before the cruise, or having a daily automatic gratuity that is charged each night of the cruise.  This automatic gratuity is charged per person, and covers the service provided by your stateroom attendant and dining room staff.

In addition, when you order or buy something on your ship, an automatic gratuity will be charged on top of the base price.  So if you order a beer, or go to the spa, expect an 18% on top of the price listed.

Speaking of drinks, if you buy a drink package, you will pay a service fee on top of your drink package that covers gratuity for all drinks you order with the drink package.

Do I have to dress up on my cruise?

It can be confusing and a little bit nerve-wracking to hear about dress codes on a Royal Caribbean ship, but it is not nearly as fixed as it sounds.

There are daily dress codes, but they apply to the main dining room only. Dress codes never apply to walking around the ship or most venues. 

If you do want to adhere to the dress codes in the dining room, it is far more relaxed than you might think.  Even on "formal night", that just means you wear something nicer than the other evenings, and that can be as simple as a button down collared shirt with slacks for men, or a cocktail dress for ladies.

Specialty restaurants have their own dress codes that supersede the main dining room dress code, and these are usually smart casual. Specialty restaurants can be good alternatives to the main dining room on formal night if you do not wish to dress for that.

In addition, there are plenty of complimentary dining venues that have no dress code you can dine at for any mean (including dinner) to avoid having to wear anything resembling a collar or heels.

Do I need to take my passport with me on shore excursions?

The answer to this question depends on what you have to do versus what you should do.

Unless told otherwise, most Royal Caribbean shore excursions do not require you to bring your passport off the ship with you on excursions.  The exception can be some destinations where you may cross an international border.

I believe you should bring your passport with you off the ship to ensure that if on the very unlikely chance you were stranded in a foreign country, you could easily depart without the hassle of going to a consulate or embassy to get an exit visa. Yes, there is risk of having it lost or stolen, but that is true of any personal valuables you take off the ship with you, such as cash, phones, etc.

Am I going to gain weight on my cruise?

There is no shortage of food on your cruise, as you will find something to eat 24 hours per day around the ship. That sounds like a recipe for gaining weight, but it does not have to be like that at all.

Just like you have access to food at home day and night, just because it is there does not mean you have to eat at gluttonous levels. 

Royal Caribbean provides a good mix of healthy foods, in addition to comfort foods. You will find salads, fruit, stir fry bars, and even indications on main dining room menus of healthier alternatives.

There is also a fitness center available to use on every Royal Caribbean ship. The majority of the fitness center is included in your cruise fare, with access to free weights, weight machines, bikes, treadmills, and more.  Fitness classes are also available on a per-class cost basis.

You can also burn some of those calories by taking the stairs instead of using an elevator, or engaging in active shore excursion.

Will I get seasick?

Hopefully not, but getting seasick is a (unlikely) possibility.

Many first-time cruisers are very worried about getting seasick on a cruise, but cruise ships are massive vessels equipped with stabilizers that will chart the smoothest paths possible to ensure a comfortable voyage.

When it comes to cruise in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean, sea conditions are most often calm, and repeat cruisers will tell you that getting seasick is a very rare occurrence.

If it does occur, there are lots of great remedies to quickly and effectively combat the symptoms. You can take over the counter medications, talk to your doctor about a prescription for special patch to put behind your ear, or try out one of the many homeopathic remedies, such as ginger supplements or acupressure wristbands.

Will I be bored?

It is not uncommon to hear from someone that has never cruised before that they fear they will be bored and/or feel trapped onboard, but this could not be further from the truth.

Cruises are so much more than bingo, ballroom dancing and eating. Royal Caribbean in particular has built a reputation for offering an incredible amount of activities and things to do on the ship. It is your choice to do as many (or as little) of them as you choose.

In addition to lounging by the pool, there is a wide variety offered. Since the exact offerings depend on the ship, try looking at a past Cruise Compass from the ship you intend to sail on to get a sense of what is offered. These past daily newsletters will give you a ballpark idea of what to expect on your sailing.

In short, you will absolutely not be bored. If anything, you will find too many good things you want to try.

Do you still have a question?

If you still have a cruise question, don't be shy, and please feel free to ask it in the comments below!

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