First Time Cruisers

Video: What to know before booking a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
07Jun2019

We have a brand new RoyalCaribbeanBlog video to share with you, all about the important things to know BEFORE you book a Royal Caribbean cruise!

We love going on Royal Caribbean and freely advocate others try it out as well, but it is important to know a few things before you put down a credit card to book that first cruise. Between logistics, saving money and learning about what each ship offers, we have some essential advice for anyone looking to book a cruise vacation.

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

So check out the video and then let us know: What is your top tip for anyone booking their first cruise?

How to complete Royal Caribbean online check-in

In:
04Jun2019

As the days get closer to your Royal Caribbean cruise, you will want to complete online check-in to expedite the process of getting onboard your ship once you arrive at the cruise terminal.

While online check-in is optional, it is a good idea to take care of it before you leave home to minimize the time needed to do the same paperwork at the terminal. When you check-in online, it saves time. You will not have to fill out any forms at the pier.

Keep in mind that you must complete and print your SetSail Pass up to 3 days prior to your sail date

When can I check-in online for my Royal Caribbean cruise?

Online Check-In opens 90 days before your cruise and must be completed no later than 3 days prior to sailing. 

Documents needed for online check-in

  • Personal Information for each guest are checking in online
  • Identification Document information for each guest you are checking in online
  • Crown & Anchor Society Membership Number (if you are a member)
  • Onward Travel Plans
  • Onboard Expense Account Information (i.e credit card and the reservation information that is authorized to charge against the account)

You will also need to establish an Onboard Expense Account via either credit card or cash.

How to check-in online via the website

  1. If you have a Royal Caribbean account already set up, simply login, find your sailing and click Start check-in.
  2. If you do not have an account set up yet, you can check-in via this page. We recommend creating an account with Royal Caribbean, linking your reservation and then completing online check-in. 
  3. Select the guests you wish to check-in
  4. Enter personal information for each guest. You will need their name, address, emergency contact information and travel documentation.  
  5. Next, you will need to decide on if you will assign a credit card or go with a cash account.  Our recommendation is to put a credit card against your account to expedite embarkation and disembarkation.
  6. You will have to read and accept the cruise contract.  This is where all those little details about what Royal Caribbean can and cannot do is listed, and while it is quite a lengthy read, it is important to be aware of the policies you are agreeing to.
  7. The next step is to pick an arrival time.  The good news is these times are not enforced, so regardless of which time you pick, you can show up to the cruise terminal at whichever times you like (especially earlier).
  8. Online check-in is now complete, and you can proceed to view your SetSail pass and/or luggage tags. It is a good idea to print a copy of each before you forget.

    These documents are available up to 3 days prior to sailing. Any closer to sailing, and they are unavailable.

    A good idea is to save each as a PDF document that you can print anytime you want later on.

How to check-in online via the Royal Caribbean app

On select Royal Caribbean ships, you can download and use the Royal Caribbean app to check-in via your phone.  The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Here are the easy to follow steps for completing online check-in via the app. 

  1. After you download, install and log into the app, find your upcoming sailing and tap Start check-in.
  2. Select the guests you wish to check-in.
  3. You will enter the personal information, travel documentation and payment details. 
  4. One nice feature of the app is it can scan your passport with the phone camera and quickly input the data for you.
  5. You will enter your onboard expense account and agree to the cruise contract. This is where all those little details about what Royal Caribbean can and cannot do is listed, and while it is quite a lengthy read, it is important to be aware of the policies you are agreeing to.
  6. The next step is to pick an arrival time.  The good news is these times are not enforced, so regardless of which time you pick, you can show up to the cruise terminal at whichever times you like (especially earlier).
  7. With online check-in complete, you will be able to view your SetSail Pass.

Video: Top 10 reasons to go on a cruise

In:
15May2019

Have you considered going on a cruise vacation? Are you wondering why so many others love cruising? Our newest video is all about telling you why a cruise is the best kind of vacation!

More than likely you are possibly considering, thinking or pondering taking a cruise vacation.  If so, this new video will help convince you to go for it and try a cruise. If you are among those who are considering a first cruise but have not yet taken the leap, here are the best reasons to try a cruise.

If you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: what is the best reason to go on a cruise?

Video: Alaska cruise mistakes to avoid!

In:
07Feb2019

Are you planning a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska and looking to avoid some easy pitfalls? After taking our first cruise to Alaska, we have a few of the things we wish we did differently.

A cruise to Alaska should be at the top of any cruisers' must-do list, and we loved our time visiting the Last Frontier, but we definitely learned a few lessons from our first Alaskan cruise. For our next cruise, we will definitely change things up and we are sharing our lessons learned in this brand new Royal Caribbean Blog video!

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

If you have cruised to Alaska, what mistakes would you avoid the next time? Share your ideas in our comments!

Video: 7 things that surprise people about Royal Caribbean

In:
29Jan2019

We have a brand new RoyalCaribbeanBlog video to share today, which features seven things that surprise people about a Royal Caribbean cruise.

A little planning can go a long way… and now more than ever that is true when it comes to planning a trip on Royal Caribbean! That is why we are sharing seven things that some guests find surprising about going on Royal Caribbean so you can know those things ahead of time to make the absolute most of your vacation!

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

So check out the video and then let us know: What did you find most surprising the first time you cruised on Royal Caribbean?

First time cruisers: What clothing to pack

In:
08Jan2019

Packing for your first Royal Caribbean cruise can feel like a daunting task, as there is a lot to consider. You have to take into account where your cruise is going, the shore excursions you want to book and dress codes onboard.

In a way, it is difficult to blame anyone for over packing because the longer the cruise, the harder it is to figure out just what clothing you will need. Your luggage will have vastly different clothing in it if you cruise heads to the Mediterranean versus Caribbean or Australia.

We have some tips to share for what to pack for your first cruise.

Cruise destinations

Even though Royal Caribbean has the word "Caribbean" in its name, Royal Caribbean ships serve a variety of ports around the world, so where you go can make things easier or harder on your packing.  

Caribbean and other warm water port destinations usually require a lot of t-shirts, shorts, and other light clothing.  But if your cruise is visiting cold water ports such as Alaska, New England or Northern Europe, you're going to need clothing that will feel comfortable outdoors as well as clothing that is comfortable inside the ship.

Based on where your cruise is going, you'll have a better idea of how much you will need and it's important to figure out a rough idea of what your schedule will be in terms of ports.  If you're only planning on leaving the ship at one or two ports, you may not need as much clothing than if you're planning on leaving the ship all the time.

First day packing

Embarkation day requires its own special packing strategy, because you will need a carry-on bag with certain items that you need to have on you until the rest of your luggage is delivered to your stateroom later in the day.

Pack your bathing suit in a carry on bag and then change in one of the public restrooms.  Towels will be provided in the pool area for your use.  By bringing bathing suits with you to change into on embarkation day, you will be able to enjoy the pools and hot tubs without the crowds that will soon arrive for the rest of the cruise.

You should also plan to pack anything you will need to have access to between when you arrive at the cruise terminal through the evening of the first day. This can include things such as medications, electronics, passport, credit card/cash, change of clothes and toiletries.

Royal Caribbean dress codes

The phrase "dress code" often strikes fear into the hearts of first time cruisers out of concern that they will feel out of place or break a rule. The reality is dress codes are merely dress suggestions for the main dining room, and dress on Royal Caribbean is far more casual than you might think.

Royal Caribbean has three main dress codes onboard its ships:

  • Casual
    • Most times of the cruise, Casual is the defacto dress code.  You will find it for breakfast, lunch and some dinners. 
    • Some good ideas for casual nights are jeans, polos, sundresses, blouses, and generally comfortable clothing. 
  • Smart Casual
    • Think of Smart Casual as a step up from Casual dress code, so plan on something a bit nicer than you might wear on Casual.  In practice, you could easily dress for Smart Casual the same as Casual.
    • Smart Casual dress suggestions include collared shirts, slacks, nicer dresses or skirts.
  • Formal
    • Formal Night is when guests can enjoy their evening best.  Nothing is too fancy for formal night, but keep in mind that you do not have to recreate your Senior Prom either.
    • You will find men wearing suits and even tuxedos.  Ladies may opt for cocktail dresses or evening gown.
    • If all this sounds too fussy, a simple collared shirt and pair of slacks for men or jeans, skirt or dress for women will suffice.
    • Formal nights are optional (though recommended) and will only take place one to three times per cruise. As always, there are plenty of casual restaurant options available on those nights too.

Packing for fun

Beyond what you will wear for meals, the bulk of your packing will entail what you need to wear around the ship or in town on excursions. 

For all the activities onboard, you may need a workout outfit or two for the fitness center.  You will also need athletic wear to tackle the rock-climbing wall, sports court or zip line. If you are cruising on Voyager, Freedom or Oasis Class ships and want to visit the ice-skating rink, be sure to pack socks and long pants. Likewise, the zip line requires closed toe shoes.

If there is one aspect of cruise packing that may be the most obvious, it would be for the pool deck. You will need swimsuits for the pool, hot tubs and waterslides.

Cruise packing tips

Here are some more packing tips to consider for your first cruise!

  • Do a Google search for "cruise packing list".  There's a lot of packing lists out there and most contain a lot of stuff you don't need, but they are good resources for remembering those "oh yea!" things. Our friends at CruiseHabit came up with a great list.
  • When possible, re-use clothing.  Odds are no one is tracking if you wore the same pair of jeans or shorts on day 2 and day 6 of your cruise.  Pants are the easiest to reuse, as they really don't get "dirty" after just one use.  
  • For men, if you want to pack less dress shirts, try packing one shirt and tie with your suit to wear, and then on a different formal night, just wear shirt without jacket or tie.
  • Another tip for men, try finding reversible belts that go with a "black" or "brown" outfit.  One less thing to pack!
  • Have one bag, preferably something easily portable like a backpack, full of essentials you need but wont check in, such as passports, money, cruise documents, phones, etc.
  • I find two bathing suits are usually enough for almost any cruise.  Short of you or someone literally spending all their time in the pools, you can usually operate with one swimsuit drying somewhere in your cabin with the other ready for use.
  • While this article is all about trying to avoiding over packing, it's definitely better to over pack than under pack!
  • Self-service laundry isn’t available on the ship, but dry cleaning and laundry services are offered for each stateroom at an additional fee. Nominal fees are worth it if it means packing less clothing.

More packing information

Now that we have covered packing basics, here are some additional articles to help more!

First time cruisers: Do you need a passport for a cruise?

In:
20Aug2018

Many first timer cruisers want to know if you need a passport to take a cruise and the answer depends on a few factors.  

There is also a fine line in answering this question that goes beyond the word "need" and essentially talks about if you "should" get a passport.  More on that coming up!

The exact travel documentation required depends on what citizenship you hold, as well as where your cruise is sailing from and to.  It is critical to understand the proper documentation needed for a cruise, as no refunds are provided for guests who fail to bring proper documentation.  Be sure to refer to Royal Caribbean's Travel Documentation page for specifics.

When you do not need a passport

If you are a U.S. citizen and cruising out of the United States (meaning your cruise begins and ends in the United States), then you do not need a passport.  U.S. citizens on closed-loop cruises (cruises that begin and end at the same port in the U.S.) will be able to enter or depart the country with proof of citizenship, such as a government-issued birth certificate and laminated government issued picture ID, denoting photo, name and date of birth.

A U.S. citizen under the age of 16 will be able to present either an original, notarized or certified copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad issues by DOS, or Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

Royal Caribbean emphasizes that Baptismal papers and hospital certificates of birth are not acceptable. Voter registration cards or Social Security cards are not considered proof of citizenship.

You should check the passport requirements for any port you are visiting, as sometimes there can be a port that requires a passport to visit even if you do not need a passport to return to the United States.

When you do need a passport

Many countries outside of North America do require a passport and visas are even required where they apply.  This includes countries in Europe, Asia, Central and South America.

All cruises to Cuba require a Passport book (no passport cards or other forms of I.D. will be accepted) valid for at least 6 months after the sailing date, for all guests including minors.

International sailings (cruises that begin outside the United States), U.S. citizens require a valid Passport and the corresponding visa required for entry and exit from the country.

For additional passport information, visit www.travel.state.gov.

Canada & Non-U.S. Citizens

Non-U.S. Citizens will need a valid passport and, in some cases, a visa. If you live in the U.S., you will also need the original copy of your Alien Registration Card (ARC or "Green Card") and any other documentation the countries on your itinerary require due to your alien status. 

All Canadian Landed Immigrants (inclusive of those who are citizens of the British Commonwealth countries) who reside in Canada must have valid passports and US visas. Also required is the original copy of your Permanent Resident Card (PR Card) formally the IMM 1000 or with respect to any country on the itinerary any other travel documentation required because of alien status. 

Why everyone should get a passport

Regardless of what the minimum requirements are for travel, we highly recommend everyone get a passport. Passports do have an additional cost to them (especially for children), but we feel the advantages of having a passport far outweigh the cost and work required to get one.

Simply put, having a passport makes traveling significantly easier and simpler. Having a passport on a cruise means not just an easier embarkation and disembarkation process, but it protects you against an unexpected situation that may occur during the course of a cruise, such as:

  • Fly out of the United States to meet a ship at the next available port should they miss the scheduled embarkation in a U.S. port
  • Entering the U.S. at the end of a cruise
  • Needing to fly to the U.S. before their cruise ends, because of medical, family, personal or business emergencies, missing a ship's departure from a port of call, involuntary disembarkation from a ship due to misconduct, or other reasons.

Certainly many guests will cruise without a passport and likely not run into any issues.  The concern without having a passport is if an emergency occurs, only an official passport will allow you to easily and quickly fly from a foreign port to another port and/or back home.  Not having a passport means you will need to travel to a U.S. embassy or consulate in a foreign country to apply for a temporary visa to re-enter the country.  Not all embassies/consulates are located near the cruise ports and moreover, the time it takes for the entire process to occur is not quick.

What about the passport card?

The passport card is an option the United States government provides that is a lower cost alternative to the passport book.  It is for travelers who are not going to leave the country by airplane, and plan to only leave the United States via land or sea.

In a nutshell, a passport card is a plastic card that can fit into a wallet and are accepted for land and sea border crossings between  the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. Passport cards cannot be used on cruises from international homeports.

While the passport card may protect you against certain scenarios and is superior to not having a passport at all, getting a passport book not only provides more coverage (such as flying internationally), but it allows you to travel beyond simply cruises.  A passport book can get you to so many more places internationally, and in the case of an emergency on a cruise, having a passport book allows you to make unexpected travel arrangements significantly easier.

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