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First Time Cruisers

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!

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!

How to make the most of your time on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
09Jul2020

The saying "you don't know what you don't know" refers to the notion you cannot take advantage of something without being aware it exists, and on cruises, there is so much more to do see, do, and explore than going to the pool deck.

Royal Caribbean cruises offer quite a lot of activities, and since your time onboard the ship is limited, here are some simple ways to make the most of your cruise.

Read the Cruise Compass every day

Every day of your cruise there is a new copy of the Cruise Compass to read, which lists all the activities, events, and times of operations going on around the ship.

Each evening your stateroom attendant will leave the Cruise Compass on your bed for you to read, and you should at least take a glance before going to bed what is happening the next day.

Glancing down the Cruise Compass is more than just staying informed of what the Activities staff has planned, it is an opportunity to discover something new or different to do onboard. It also provides a good indication if you should plan to sleep in or get up earlier.

In addition, the Cruise Director will record a daily show that talks about what is happening onboard, and you can watch it from your stateroom television.

Read more: First timer's guide to the Cruise Compass

Plan breaks

While this post is all about getting the most out of your time onboard, do not over do it either.

First and foremost, you cannot do it all in one cruise. Royal Caribbean packs its ships with lots of activities, restaurants and fun, but trying to work everything in is a recipe for burn out.

Instead, prioritize the most important things to you, and make sure you give your family regular breaks along the way.  

Sleeping in one day, coming back to the ship early from a shore excursion for pool time, or even naps (especially for the adults) work wonders for the morale of everyone (and their feet).

Read moreWhat I wish I'd known before I went on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Get to the cruise as early as you can

On the day your cruise sets sail, plan to arrive to the terminal early to beat the crowds and start your vacation sooner.

By arriving to the cruise terminal early, you will beat the majority of guests who arrive later in the day and that means shorter waits to check-in and get onboard. Plus, you will have extra time onboard the ship on your first day!

If you are wondering what time constitutes early, sometime between 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. is a good target. The price you paid for the cruise is the same whether you get on board the ship at 11:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m., so you may as well get the most time possible onboard your ship!

Read moreHow early can I board my Royal Caribbean cruise?

Plan shore excursions in advance

Want to save money and enjoy an awesome tour while in port? Do your research and book shore excursions before your cruise.

A very common mistake among first time cruisers is "winging it", where they simply walk off the ship in a port of call and try to figure out something to do.

Not researching in advance likely means paying more for a tour, and greatly limiting your choices to whatever you happen to stumble upon.

Instead, look up tours offered by Royal Caribbean or third-party services and learn about all the tour options available to you. In the process, you will likely save money as well, since you can price shop around to see who offers the tour at the lowest price.

Read moreHow to book a Royal Caribbean shore excursion

Try something new

I am the first to admit it is very easy to fall into a routine on a cruise, even if it is your first time sailing.

You find something that works and you like, so you stick with it.  While there is nothing wrong with doing what you like, try to sneak in something new or different to mix things up.

All too often I resist trying something, only to realize later it was a great idea. 

Here are some good ways to mix it up:

  • Try somewhere else for breakfast. Park Cafe, Solarium Bistro or Johnny Rockets (on Oasis Class ships) are great choices.
  • Order a different appetizer. Escargot is not nearly as gross as it may sound.
  • Book a cooking class. Sushi making, cupcake decorating, or guacamole making classes are a lot of fun and taste great too!
  • Try out the escape room. This a popular option on many ships that gives your group a limited time to solve a series of puzzles and clues.

Say hello to your fellow guests and crew

Something you will never see in a Royal Caribbean commercial, but a real highlight of any cruise, is making friends onboard.

The other people on your cruise already have something in common with you: you are all on vacation on the same ship, visiting the same places.  This makes for easy conversation starters, and you would be amazed how friendly other guests and crew members are to strike up a conversation.

You do not have to become everyone's best friend onboard, but do not shy away from a "good morning" when you walk in the elevator, or a "hello" as you sit down around the pool.

Crew members are especially friendly, and usually very willing to engage you in a quick conversation.

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

The bottom line

A cruise is an inherently fun trip, but you can turn a good trip intro a great trip with these quick and easy tips.

With just a little bit of planning, you can avoid common cruise mistakes and enjoy a memorable vacation. 

5 Costly lessons learned on a cruise (and how to avoid them!)

In:
22Jun2020

The proverb, "Experience is The Best Teacher" holds true even on cruises, because there are a few mistakes that could cost you a lot of money.

Going on vacation means spending money to splurge and enjoy yourself, but it does not have to mean wasting money. There are plenty of first-time cruise mistakes to avoid, and a few of them could really cost you in the long run.

Here are the top five mistakes not to make on your Royal Caribbean cruise, which will cost you if you were to make them!

Leaving your cell phone on

One of the most common mistakes is guests who leave their cellphone antenna on while on a cruise.

If you leave your cellphone active while on a cruise ship, it can connect to the ship's cell phone antenna while at sea, or to a local network at one of the ports you are visiting. Nearly every cell phone plan calls this "roaming", and that means you pay a hefty price for placing calls, sending texts and using data.

Every so often there is a horror story that makes its way around the internet of someone who left their phone up and racked up thousands of dollars in roaming charges.

To avoid this mistake, simply put your phone into airplane mode once you get onboard on the first day. Airplane mode will disable your phone's antenna and prevent it from connecting to any network.

You can still use apps and other functions of your phone while in airplane mode, including connecting to WiFi

Once the cruise is over, you can disable airplane mode to instantly return to normal service, and no giant bill waiting for you at home.

Booking non-refundable cruise fare

There will be some readers who may disagree with me, but I think booking non-refundable cruise fare is a mistake waiting to happen, especially for first-time cruisers.

Other than certain stateroom categories that can only be booked as non-refundable (such as suites), guests have the choice at the time of booking to make a refundable or non-refundable deposit.

Non-refundable cruise fare will usually save $100-200 or so compared to booking refundable cruise fare, but non-refundable cruise fare comes with penalty charges if you want to cancel, or move your reservation to a different ship or sail date.

While it can be tempting to book non-refundable cruise fare to save a little off the top of your vacation cost, I think the flexibility refundable cruise fare offers is worth the extra cost.

By booking refundable cruise fare, you can cancel without penalty prior to final payment date, and/or change ships or sail dates without incurring a $100 per person penalty per change.

Cruises are typically booked many months in advance, and situations change a lot these days that can greatly alter the parameters of the vacation you envisioned.

A great example of this issue recently occured when Royal Caribbean announced Allure of the Seas would not sail from Galveston in 2021 and initially, guests could not get a refund if they did not want to sail on Liberty of the Seas instead. Many readers were upset because changing ships or cancelling would have incurred a fee due to their non-refundable cruise fare. 

While Royal Caribbean did eventually offer more choices in this situation, it stands as a cautionary tale, and prime example of why I prefer to book refundable cruise fare. You just never know.

Waiting to buy add-ons on the ship

If you wait to purchase drink packages, shore excursions, restaurant reservations or spa appointments onboard your Royal Caribbean ship, you are wasting money.

Royal Caribbean offers pre-cruise discounts in the months leading up to its cruises and these discounts are significant enough to make it well worth your time to pre-book instead of waiting to buy it on the ship.

Royal Caribbean will run sales periodically that lower the cost on many of these add-ons, making it even more lucrative to pre-book.

In order to pre-book any add-on, you simply need to log onto Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site and follow the easy-to-follow steps for reserving it for you.

Not only will pre-purchasing save you money compared to onboard prices, it will also save you time from waiting to purchase them. That means more time relaxing and having fun onboard.

Not bringing your own wine onboard

Love wine? Me too, so if you are not bringing two bottles of wine onboard your cruise, you're either missing out by not drinking or overpaying for wine that you could have gotten at retail prices at home.

While Royal Caribbean does not allow guests to bring alcoholic beverages on its ships, it does allow up to two 750ml bottles of wine to be brought onboard its ships.

Not only will bringing your own wine cost you less than buying similar bottles on the ship, it also helps keep your alcohol budget lower!

You have to bring it with you on embarkation day and keep it in your carry-on luggage, but you are free to drink it anywhere on the ship.

If you choose to drink the wine at a bar, restaurant or lounge, you may be subject to a corkage fee, but in my experience, the corkage fee is rarely enforced.

Art auctions

Art auctions remain a fixture on Royal Caribbean ships, but they can go from "fun diversion" to "expensive reminder" very quickly.

Unfortunately, art auctions have a pretty bad reputation on all cruise lines because the valuations, delays in shipping and add-on costs for framing and shipping muddle any perceived value from the artwork itself. Not to mention the fact the piece you bid on, is not something you just take home with you.

My recommendation is avoid art auctions all together, but if you do go inside, be aware of what you are bidding on, and keep prices and valuations as an opinion, and not fact. I think you are better off buying your art elsewhere, and spending that art auction money on something else onboard.

Your advice

Do you agree with our list? Is there an expensive cruise mistake to avoid that you would add? Let us know in the comments your experiences!

How do I pick the perfect first cruise?

In:
15Jun2020

After you decide to go on a cruise, you might be wondering which itinerary to pick for your first cruise vacation.

Royal Caribbean offers a lot of cruises to ports around the world, so what is the perfect duration and destination for someone who wants to go on their first cruise?

There are a few factors to consider on which sailing is the best choice for you, but take all of these into consideration before picking the right one for you.

How many nights should your cruise be?

A good starting point is picking how many nights for your first cruise. Royal Caribbean offers cruises as short as 3-nights, and as long as two weeks. There is a great variety in what you can choose, depending on the region of the world.

Short cruises tend to go over weekends, or can have just a port stop or two.  They come and go quite quickly, but they are relatively inexpensive.

A slightly longer cruise (5-7 nights) offers a more complete cruise experience, with a good mix of sea days and port visits. The longer duration means you get to visit more exotic ports, as well as experience more of what your ship has to offer.

The even longer cruises (9 nights or longer) offer some truly fascinating voyages to places not usually visited by cruise ships.

While it may be tempting to pick a short sailing for a first cruise, I think the best choice for a first-time cruiser is a 7 night cruise because these offer a good mix of port days and sea days.  In addition, a week on a cruise means you will have more time to experience what the ship has to offer onboard. 

Those weekend cruises are over before you know it, and they are the type of sailings to augment your cruises as you continue to take more cruise vacations.

Where should my first cruise go to?

With so many places around the world to visit while on a cruise, which itinerary makes the most sense to book first?

First and foremost, where you live may dictate which itineraries are most practical to go on.  If you live in Australia, a cruise to the Caribbean is not exactly practical.

At the very least, I would recommend picking a sailing that has a good mix of sea days and port days.  A cruise with too many sea days or too many port days is not a great choice for a first time cruiser because you want to ensure you have a chance to experience both equally, without getting burnt out on shore excursions or days at sea.

Many first time cruisers love Royal Caribbean's private islands of Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee. These private destinations are extensions of the cruise ship experience, and offer a contained and easy to plan port day visit that is very inviting to families and guests of all ages.

During the summer months, cruises to Europe and Alaska offer 7-night and longer sailings to some incredible places.  These are some of the most sought after cruise destinations outside of the Caribbean.

For first time cruisers, picking a Western or Eastern Caribbean sailing has that right blend of port days and sea days that is a good fit for most people to try out a cruise vacation.

Which ship should I pick?

Once you narrow down the region of the world and length of cruise, picking the right ship for you will be a lot easier since you will have narrowed down the field of choices.

Royal Caribbean spreads its ships around the world, and in the popular regions, you will often find a few ships to pick from after narrowing down your choices.

While there is not one Royal Caribbean ship I would not recommend to sail on, I do think there are some ships better suited for first time cruisers.

The Oasis and Quantum Class ships are Royal Caribbean's newest and largest cruise ships and have the latest and greatest features that you typically see in any television commercial. The size of a cruise ship is not the end-all, be-all of what makes a ship great, but it does mean there is more space to offer a greater variety of onboard experiences.

The Freedom and Voyager Class ships are big ships in their own right, and most have been recently upgraded with water slides, new restaurants and other fun activities onboard.

Any of these ships are great choice for a first time cruiser who wants to get in on the kind of cruise fun you would see in any commercial or social media post online.

Top 10 Royal Caribbean questions people are asking Google

In:
11Jun2020

The internet is such a powerful tool for researching pretty much any topic, including learning about Royal Caribbean cruises.

Many cruisers, regardless of if they are first-timers or veterans, will take advantage of the wealth of information online to help answer questions and learn about new topics.  Heck, it is why this site was created!

One of my favorite video series are WIRED's Autocomplete interviews, where celebrities are asked questions based on what people are searching Google for about them.  In the spirit of those types of questions, here are the top 10 questions people are searching Google for about a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Which Royal Caribbean cruise ship is the best?

The "best" is a relative term, because what makes something great for one person may not matter to another. Just like favorite sports teams, restaurants, or airlines, every person ranks certain attributes higher than others.

I truly believe there is no one ship that is better than the rest, and I recommend a cruise on any of their ships.

However, I also recommend a first time cruiser research what a ship offers to ensure it is a good fit for them.  Not all Royal Caribbean ships are the same, and what the ship offers (and does not offer) may make it a better fit for someone.

What you want to do is identify which amenities, activities, venues and itineraries are included on a particular vessel and then determine which combination works best for you.

The key to finding the best Royal Caribbean cruise ship is not some arbitrary list compiled by a writer in Boca Raton. Rather, the best ship for you is the one that offers the types of features you are looking for in a ship.

Do you want a ship with a nursery? Water slides? A lot or a few specialty restaurants? Broadway shows? Top-level suites?

Picking the best cruise ship is about determining which ship has just the right combination of what you want onboard.

How much is the drink package on Royal Caribbean?

The exact cost of a Royal Caribbean drink package will vary from ship to ship, and sailing to sailing. There is no set amount across the fleet, so it greatly depends on which sailing you end up booking.

There are three types of drink packages offered on Royal Caribbean ships:

Deluxe Beverage Package

Better known as the unlimited alcohol package, this package offers a combination of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including beer, wine by the glass, cocktails, most liquors, premium coffees & teas, bottled water, juice and more.

If purchased prior to your cruise on the Cruise Planner site, the Deluxe Beverage package often costs between $48 - $65 per guest, per night (excluding gratuity). The price will be higher if purchased onboard, usually between $63 - $70.00 per guest, per night.

Refreshment Package

The non-alcoholic drink package includes pretty much any drink that does not include alcohol on your cruise, such as mocktails, juices, coffee and teas.

The price per night of the Refreshment Package is $29.00 per guest (excluding gratuity).

Soda Package

A drink package that includes just soft drinks will cost you $12.99 per guest (excluding gratuity).

What is the newest ship from Royal Caribbean?

As of the posting of this article, the newest Royal Caribbean cruise ship is Spectrum of the Seas. She is the first Quantum-Ultra-class cruise ship, and sails exclusively in Asia.

Spectrum of the Seas had her maiden voyage on April 18, 2019.

There are a number of new ships on order, set to debut at some point in the next few years. Prior to the global cruise shutdown, the schedule for new ships was for Odyssey of the Seas to debut in November 2020, and Wonder of the Seas in 2021.

What is included in a Royal Caribbean cruise?

There is quite a lot of value packed into what's included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare, but understanding the breakdown of what is complimentary and what costs extra is a common concern.

The basics of what is included are:

  • Your stateroom cabin
  • Meals and snacks (at complimentary venues)
  • Select non-alcoholic beverages
  • Children's programming
  • Activities & shows
  • Signature activities & games
  • Fitness center access
  • Pools

The exact specifics of what is included will vary from ship to ship, but there is a general baseline across the fleet of what is included across the board. 

If you happen to book a suite, or are a top tier member of Crown and Anchor Society, you may get additional benefits and amenities included.

The bottom line is you can go on a cruise and never spend another dime and have a great vacation that leaves you rested, well-fed, and entertained. I do not think it is very likely many people actually go on a cruise and never spend anything extra, but there still is a tremendous value when you consider what is included with your cruise fare.

Why is Royal Caribbean the best cruise line?

Just like the question about the best cruise ship, what makes Royal Caribbean the best cruise line has no universal answer for everyone.

Royal Caribbean is known in the industry for offering fun vacations on cruise ships that pack a ton of entertainment and activities for a great price.

Their ships visit incredible destinations around the world, have two lovely private islands, and are very popular choices for families.

When it comes to picking the best cruise for kids, Royal Caribbean's newest and recently refurbished ships tend to be the best choices.  Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ships offer the most dedicated space to kids programming, as well as the most onboard activities that kids (and their parents) will enjoy.  This includes rock climbing walls, ice skating, water slides and more.

How do I get the best deal on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Everyone wants to save money and get the lowest possible price on a cruise, so it is natural to seek out the best strategies for getting a great deal.  Here are the top ways anyone can do this:

Book early

The best prices for cruises are found early on when cabin inventory is highest. 

Royal Caribbean sells its cruises largely based on the concept of supply and demand. When a sailing is first offered, supply is at its highest because no one has purchase a stateroom yet. As time progress, more and more staterooms are reserved and stateroom inventory drops, so the price increases conversely.

The earlier you can book, the best chance you will have at getting a good price on your cruise.

Use a travel agent

Perhaps the most common mistake I see among first time cruisers is not using a good travel agent.

Travel agents should cost you nothing extra to use, and offer a substantial amount of experience and advice in helping you find the perfect sailing at the lowest price.

Having a travel agent will save you time, and perhaps money too.  They can also steer you away from common pitfalls, and are invaluable when problems occur. 

Take advantage of price drops

Throughout the year, Royal Caribbean offers various cruise sales: BOGO deals, 72 hour sales, WOW sales, leap day sales and more are offered and each promotion comes with it different pricing and booking incentives.

From when you book your cruise until the final payment date of your cruise, North American guests can cancel and rebook under the new promotions without any penalty (residents of other parts of the world need to check local laws and policies).

Go during slower times of the year

An easy way to knock hundreds of dollars off the cost of your cruise is to book a sailing when most others cannot go on a vacation.

In general, you will find lower fares if you are willing to cruise during the "shoulder seasons" and/or when school is usually in session.

This includes:

  • January (minus New Years holiday)
  • Most of February
  • May
  • September
  • October
  • First two weeks of November
  • First two weeks of December

Is Carnival or Royal Caribbean better?

This is a tough question to answer because it is is a very subjective question.

Both are mass-market cruise lines with big fleets of ships and visit a lot of common destinations. So what makes one better than the other?

First, I need to disclose I have never sailed on a Carnival cruise ship, and I run a blog about Royal Caribbean. So I am far from the most objective person in the world on this topic.

What makes Royal Caribbean stand out is their dedication to being a market leader. Their cruise ships are built to be destinations in and of themselves, and the cruise line has repeatedly been an innovator in the industry with many accomplishments.

The value offered is also something that stands out to me. How much you pay versus what you get for that money is something that seems to provide a great balance on Royal Caribbean's side of things.

Royal Caribbean's ships are the largest in the world, offer some incredible things to do onboard, and include the best private island experience in Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Which Royal Caribbean ship is best for adults?

The good news is there a lot of great choices for adults on any Royal Caribbean ship, so I think the best ship for anyone will be based on which options the ship has onboard.

If you want the greatest variety of dining and entertainment, an Oasis or Quantum Class ship is a solid choice because it offers the latest and greatest offerings by the cruise line.

That being said, the rest of the fleet offers a lot to like for adults. The Radiance Class ships have arguably the best adults-only solarium across the fleet, the amplified Voyager Class ships have a lot of the features from the Oasis Class at a fraction of the price, and many veteran cruisers appreciate the simplicity (and low price) on Majesty or Empress of the Seas.

The key is to look at what each ship offers (all Royal Caribbean ships have an adults-only Solarium pool), and weigh price, activities and where the ship sails.

Which is the oldest Royal Caribbean ship?

The oldest Royal Caribbean ship sailing in the fleet is Empress of the Seas.

Formerly known as Nordic Empress, Empress of the Seas was launched on August 25, 1989. The ship was actually retired, and then returned to Royal Caribbean's fleet after an 8 year absence.

Is Royal Caribbean all inclusive?

In short, no, Royal Caribbean cruises are not all inclusive, however, there are some add-ons you can purchase that will get you pretty darn close to an all inclusive cruise experience.

While a Royal Caribbean cruise includes a lot of things to do, dining, beverages and activities, there are still some elements that will cost you extra beyond the cruise fare:

  • Soft drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Shore excursions
  • Gratuities
  • WiFi
  • Specialty dining
  • Spa
  • Casino
  • Souvenirs
  • Photos

For all of these extra costs, you can opt to pay along the way (pay for it if/when you choose to use it), or purchase a package that includes some of these items for a fixed cost.

Regardless of which direction you take, in almost every case it is less expensive if you pre-purchase via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.

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