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8 Royal Caribbean cruise questions guests are too embarrassed to ask

02 May 2024

It's normal to have a lot of questions about booking a cruise because of how personal the different options are during the booking process.

After all, cruise ships are a complex, all-in-one vacation that happens on the ocean, and it's your choice how you enjoy it.

And what should new cruisers know first about Royal Caribbean?

To find out, you won’t have to wade through Reddit posts or wait on hold to speak to Royal Caribbean representatives any longer. 

Here are answers to 8 questions a lot of people are sometimes too embarrassed to ask when it comes to their cruise.

1. Do I really need to pay gratuities?

Crew members together

When you book your cruise, you’ll find an additional gratuity charge will be added to your cruise fare, either before or after the sailing.

If you elect to prepay the gratuities, you’ll pay this in the final price before your sailing.

If not, you’ll receive a charge on your SeaPass account for each day of your cruise.

The service gratuity is currently $18 per person, per day, for guests in non-suite or Junior Suite staterooms.

For guests in Suites, the charge is $20.50 per person, per day.

Read more: Tipping on a cruise ship: what you should and shouldn't do

This charge is based on industry standards, charged for each guest as a way to reward crew members for their service.

While you can remove the gratuities from your account, it is not a good idea. It is split among all the crew members you will encounter on your cruise: waitstaff, bartenders, culinary services staff, stateroom attendants, and the hotel services team.

Because Royal Caribbean crew members work hard to provide exemplary service, these gratuities are a way to reward them.

These are required as part of your cruise fare, but it means that you don’t need to tip crew members individually unless you so desire.

Read more: 10 reasons why I didn't want to go on a cruise, but glad I gave it a try

2. How easy is it to fall off a cruise ship?

Photo from Joseph Bellman.

Whenever a guest does unfortunately fall off a cruise ship, it becomes a well-reported news story.

So it’s easy for first-time cruisers to fear such a tragedy happening to them.

How likely is it that you could actually fall off a cruise ship deck or balcony?

The reality is that it’s almost impossible to accidentally fall off a cruise ship.

Railing on cruise ship

All railings are built to be at least chest-high, around four feet tall. 

Incidents in which someone does fall off a cruise ship usually happen because they climbed on top of a railing or purposely jumped off.

As long as you are following Royal Caribbean rules, it's very unlikely that you could fall off a cruise ship into the ocean.

3. Is the water safe to drink on a cruise ship?

Given that a cruise ship floats and is unattached to typical plumbing systems on land, you might wonder if the tap water is safe to drink on board.

The answer is yes, all the water is rigorously distilled or purified according to sanitation standards approved by the U.S. Public Health Service.

The water is regularly desalinated, treated, filtered, and tested to confirm the water quality.

All Royal Caribbean ships are also inspected frequently for sanitation.

Read more: 15 free things to try on your next cruise

4. Is a Guarantee Cabin worth it?

Harmony of the Seas beds

When you book your cruise, you will have the option to choose your exact stateroom or go for a guarantee stateroom.

A guarantee cabin is when you select the cabin type you prefer (interior, oceanview, balcony, or suite), and Royal Caribbean assigns one to you at a lower price.

You are promised your chosen category of cabin, but give up the ability to choose the exact location.

Usually, cruise lines offer this option as a way to sell less-desirable cabins, and make sure a ship is filled before the sail date.

Icon of the Seas traditional balcony cabin

If you select this option, you will be assigned a specific cabin a few weeks before your cruise.

It’s a great money-saving strategy, but it means giving up control of the exact stateroom you cruise in.

To decide whenever it’s worth it, consider how flexible you are on the location of your cabin, and compare that with the deal you’ll get from booking a guarantee stateroom.

If the deal saves you a good amount of money, or if you’re open to multiple different cabins, booking guarantee is a great idea.

Read more: I took my first cruise ever and here's what I expected vs what actually happened

5. Do crew members sleep on the cruise ship?

Crew member emuster

Where do the crew members sleep when they’re done working?

Just like guests, the crew members sleep on board during a cruise. 

In fact, their contracts last months at a time, during which they are living onboard.

There are special crew quarters onboard, where crew members share a small cabin with one or more roommates.

Bryan in Crew member cabin

The size of the cabins vary, but they run small—definitely smaller than the guest cabins.

Most crew cabins are around 120 square feet.

Crew members also have a separate set of amenities onboard, like a laundromat, crew gym facilities, hair salons, and a separate cafeteria and bar.

Read more: Royal Caribbean crew member reveals what it's like when joining a cruise ship

6. I'm really scared of being out on the open ocean. Am I crazy?

It’s normal to have a fear of the ocean, but some people worry that this might stop them from cruising.

The reality is that a cruise could actually be a great way to confront and overcome that fear.

Cruise ships are incredibly safe—the odds of dying on one are about 1 in 6.25 million.

Cruising is one of the safest forms of travel, especially compared to cars, which we use every day.

Vessels are very carefully built, regulated, and monitored. Ships receive frequent safety inspections, and most cruise lines go above and beyond government requirements.

Not only that, but cruise ships are very large—you won’t feel like you’re floating on the ocean.

They are more like huge hotels, where you’ll have too much fun to even worry about feeling scared.

You don't have to get close to the ocean at all. Instead, you’ll be able to admire its beauty from afar.

If you are afraid of traveling on a smaller boat, just avoid a cruise that uses tenders, which are smaller boats that transport you to shore.

You’ll have a fun, safe time on the cruise ship.

Read more: 15 things I look forward to every time I go on a cruise ship

7. How do I meet the Captain while I’m onboard?

The Captain is responsible for everything on the cruise ship, so will you have an opportunity to meet this important figure?

How interactive the captain is with passengers depends on the captain and the ship, each person is unique.

On some cruises, the Captain and Cruise Director hold a question-and-answer session for guests to ask about the workings of the ship.


After that event, there’s usually an opportunity to meet the Captain.

Some cruises also have a Captain’s welcome aboard reception, during which the Captain makes a toast and takes photos with guests.

To find the time and location of these events, you can check your Cruise Compass or Royal Caribbean app.

8. Will I be bored on a cruise?

Icon of the Seas Royal Bay Pool

Out of all the fears you may have about cruising, this one would be the most unreasonable.

A Royal Caribbean cruise is filled with an overwhelming amount of activities you can take part in, most of them being completely free.

The exact activities vary depending on the ship and sailing, but each day of your cruise is guaranteed to have a variety of activities.

If you’re looking for physical and sports events, check out a rock climbing wall, mini golf, the sports court, the FlowRider surf simulator, water slides, the zip line, ice skating, laser tag, or fitness classes.

Aquatheater show on Icon

If entertainment and shows are more your style, there are games, live music, theater and musical performances, comedians, acrobats, and karaoke nights.

For those who prefer to live on the edge and gamble, each cruise ship has a casino and bingo events.

More activities include nightclub events, movies, parades, tours, and educational classes.  And of course there are multiple trivia contests every day.

Besides all these activities, there are several pools and hot tubs, and a wealth of different venues to try.

Read more: Cruising with teenagers: Will they have fun on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Should you tell the waiter if you won't be there for dinner? 5 cruise ship etiquette questions

11 Apr 2024

As a first-time cruiser, you never want to become a public nuisance.

Main Dining Room tables

After spending lots of time and money to book a relaxing and fun vacation, you’d hate to turn into someone inconsiderate onboard.

Being polite and following cruise ship etiquette will ensure that crew members and other guests won’t dread running into you. 

So, what details should you know, and what rules are important to follow?

New cruisers have some common, but specific questions that we’ve seen pop up over the years.

Icon of the Seas in shipyard

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to getting on a cruise ship for the first time.

Some common courtesies may not come automatically or seem obvious to you, so we’ve answered all your questions right here. 

From main dining room etiquette to who is allowed into the Crown Lounge, this is your guide to five common cruise ship etiquette questions.

Read more: 20 rules of cruise ship etiquette no one ever tells you (but should)

​​Should I tell the waitstaff if I won't be in the Main Dining Room ahead of time?

odyssey of the seas main dining room

Royal Caribbean’s Main Dining Room is the spot for complimentary gourmet meals served in elegant dining rooms on several decks.

Because the venue is especially popular for its multiple-course dinners, many cruisers eat there every night.

However, itineraries can get busy on a cruise, and with all the onboard activities and onshore excursions available, it’s possible that you won’t be able to attend your traditional dinner time.

There are also plenty of other restaurants to try—such as the Windjammer buffet and specialty dining.

Breakfast in mdr

So, if you know ahead of time that you won’t make it to the Main Dining Room for dinner, should you let your waitstaff know?

I’ve been told by culinary staff that if you have a reservation at a specialty restaurant, the Main Dining Room waiters will see it in their system and already know that you won’t make it to dinner.

The same would apply if you’ve ordered room service instead.


But what if you’re going to the Windjammer, or eating onshore at a port restaurant?

If you know ahead of time, it is considered polite and customary to let your servers know. Also, if you are seated with other guests who are not part of your group, it is polite to let them know so they don’t hold off ordering their meal waiting for you to show up.

This ensures that they can adjust their plans for the following night and avoid any food waste.

Royal Caribbean tries to stay flexible with dining options of all varieties, so it’s polite to inform them of your plans as much as you can.

Do I need to pay gratuities for my infant?

Kids together on Wonder of the Seas

Royal Caribbean adds gratuities to the final cost of the fare as a way to ensure crew members such as bartenders, waiters, cooks, and stateroom attendants are rewarded for their service.

Usually, gratuities are charged per person, for each guest onboard.

This includes children and even infants.

The cost of gratuity is applied to each individual guest, regardless of age or stateroom category.

Kids activities

Your child, no matter how young, is counted toward the number of people that the crew members are taking care of.

Read more: Mailbag: Why do I have to pay gratuities for my toddler?

While it makes sense that you don’t expect to pay the full price for smaller children, think about everything that crew members can do for your family.

Culinary service teams work to provide healthy food and high chairs and clean up any messes.

Crew members together

Your stateroom attendant will empty the trash with dirty diapers, and provide extra towels and sheets as needed.

And in the case of an emergency, crew members will also protect your children.

Even if you have a smaller human onboard, they still count as someone that the crew will be taking care of.

Read more: Should you prepay gratuities for a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Should I bring a Bluetooth speaker?

Oasis Lagoon

A waterfront vacation can be made even sweeter by the presence of your favorite songs, audiobooks, or even a loved one on a video call.

To hear these things better, should you bring a speaker onboard?

We don’t recommend it.

Most cruise lines ask that you keep Bluetooth speakers for use only in your personal stateroom.

white noise machine

By looking at any online forum, you’ll be able to tell that most cruisers do not appreciate the guests who bring their speakers and start blasting music for everyone else to hear.

Some guests may prefer silence at the beach. 

Other areas, like the pool deck on Royal Caribbean ships, could already have talented performers playing live music live.

The cruise line could even confiscate your speaker if you’re found to be disturbing the other cruisers.

Noise cancelling headphones

Remember that, while a cruise ship has space for plenty of fun and excitement, you’re still sharing it with other guests and should be considerate of their needs.

Instead, pack along a quality pair of headphones that allow you some privacy while still listening to your favorite noises.

Is it okay to bring my friends who aren't Diamond-tier into the Crown Lounge?

The Crown Lounge is a special, elegantly decorated lounge reserved for guests who are members of the Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club tiers of the Crown and Anchor Society.

The lounge access comes with snacks, nightly happy hour, and a Concierge to assist with any special needs or requests during the sailing.

It’s an exciting and luxurious benefit, so can you bring along friends and family?


The answer is no, not unless they are also a Diamond, Diamond Plus, or Pinnacle level member.

Royal Caribbean’s website reads that this benefit is “exclusive” and “cannot be extended to include friends and family.”

Now, if you have a spouse or partner who is a member of your household and lives with you, you can request for them to be added to your Crown and Anchor account so they can receive the same status.

Royal Caribbean’s website says: “A Crown & Anchor Society member can be added into a relationship with other family members in the same household and receive equivalent tier status; however Cruise Points will remain according to actual cruises taken and calculated according to the number of nights sailed.”

Otherwise, they will not be able to enter the Crown Lounge.

We missed our traditional dining time, can I still go to the Main Dining Room that night?

The Main Dining Room offers two different dinner-time options.

You can either choose “My Time” Dining or traditional dining. My Time Dining will allow you to eat dinner whenever you choose. 

But with traditional dining, you’ll receive a particular assigned time and table. Guests who select traditional dining are expected to show up at their assigned time.

Can you still show up late?

If you are more than 15 minutes late (and especially if you haven’t warned your waitstaff ahead of time), they may close the doors or they may have reassigned your table.

Especially if you’re traveling with a larger group, they may no longer have the table space reserved for you.

From this point, you still have the option to switch to My Time Dining. If you get into that line, they will attempt to seat you when a table is available, although there may be a wait.

You can always try, as many guests find that Royal Caribbean waitstaff are as flexible as possible, and will attempt to seat you.

However, if you’d like to give up and try something else after showing up late, there are always other venues such as the Windjammer.

Five moves Royal Caribbean is making to overhaul its weekend cruise business for the future

04 Mar 2024

Royal Caribbean has been one of the biggest cruise lines in the world since the company began operations in 1968, and it's flipping the script on the short cruise market in 2024.

Icon of the Seas in CocoCay

Through a combination of new cruise ships, redeployments, and investments in the ports they visit, Royal Caribbean wants to raise customer expectations for what a weekend cruise is like and set a new standard for the cruise industry.

The company has methodically positioned some of its most important new ships along side land-side investments, and its recent announcement of new deployments indicate a clear direction: Royal Caribbean wants to target the new cruise market like no other line has done before.

Royal Caribbean is addressing a market need, where new cruisers are hesitant to go on longer sailings, but don't want to sail on older hardware. In following the old saying, "you never get a second chance to make a first impression", Royal Caribbean will put new ships serving up 3- and 4-night cruises instead of traditionally placing older hardware for those sailings.

Thrill Island

The new cruise market is single-handedly the largest source of growth within the cruise industry, and capitalizing on sourcing new customers from this pool of growth is how any cruise line can generate the most revenue quickly.

In looking through Royal Caribbean's recent announcements and deployments, it's clear the cruise line is poised to begin a new approach to not only short cruises, but how it attracts new customers.

Utopia of the Seas

Utopia of the Seas concept art

The first major focus for Royal Caribbean in appealing to the new cruiser market is to launch Utopia of the Seas later this summer and offer short cruises only.

Utopia of the Seas will be the sixth Oasis Class ship, which are the biggest cruise ships in the world.  The previous five Oasis Class ships all began service by sailing 7-night cruises.

Instead, Utopia will offer 3- and 4-night cruises from Port Canaveral in July 2024.


By starting off with short sailings, Royal Caribbean hopes a brand new cruise ship will get the attention of the public, especially when people hear they can sail on Utopia for just the weekend. It's a short commitment, and it gives new cruisers peace of mind that if they don't like cruising, it's only a couple of days.

Royal Caribbean's decision to homeport Utopia in Port Canaveral is another component to their strategy.  Port Canaveral is just under an hour away from the family vacation capital of the world, Orlando.

The company has made no secret that it is targeting the family vacation market, and wants to compete with the Orlando resorts that currently dominate that demographic.

Star of the Seas and Icon of the Seas render

If a weekend cruise is too short, Royal Caribbean has Icon of the Seas and Star of the Seas ready as equally compelling alternatives that offer traditional 7-night cruises.

As impressive as Utopia will be, the two Icon Class ships are even more appealing to families.

Icon of the Seas was designed to be the ultimate vacation for a young family, and it has more amenities, activities, and staterooms than any other ship has offered for children.

Read more: Icon of the Seas guide and features

Food truck on Utopia of the Seas

The plan is entice new cruisers with a short cruise, and if they love it, then they'll want to come back for more and there are two Icon Class ships waiting for them.  If a weekend cruise is too short, then they can jump right to Icon or Star. In either case, Royal Caribbean thinks these ships have the right product that no other line can match.

CocoCay expansion


When you take a short cruise from Florida, you're going to The Bahamas and that's where a new cruiser will get to meet part two of Royal Caribbean's master plan.

Perfect Day at CocoCay is the name of Royal Caribbean's private island, and it's been a guest satisfaction grand slam for the company ever since the island's refurbishment in 2019.

A combination of thrills, relaxation, food, and activities galore have made CocoCay the place families can enjoy without much fuss. Since it's Royal Caribbean's private enclave, there's no pushy vendors, one place to find all your tours and add-ons, and lots of included amenities.

Looking at Hideaway Beach

Since the island's revamp, Royal Caribbean has slowly expanded what guests can do there during the day. It opened a secluded beach club and earlier this year added an adults-only beach.

While the rest of the island is family focused, Hideaway Beach offers an escape for adults who want a break from it all. It's a giant pool party with beach access, and the goal is to give customers somewhere else to consider spending their day.

Just like their cruise ships, CocoCay is meant to offer something for everyone.  There are places to go with young children, teens, and kid-free spots too.

Short cruises on Wonder of the Seas

Wonder of the Seas lessons learned

In March 2024, Royal Caribbean made another strategic move to redeploy Wonder of the Seas to the same short cruises as Utopia.

Wonder is the newest Oasis Class ship after Utopia, and is just two years old.  She will offer three- and four-night sailings out of Miami starting in August 2025.

With Wonder in Miami and Utopia in Port Canaveral, Royal Caribbean now has two of its best ships in the two biggest cruise markets in the world offering short cruises. 

Symphony of the Seas at night

It's the same gameplan that Royal Caribbean has for Port Canaveral, but in Miami. Just like Utopia, Wonder will visit ports in the Bahamas and look to attract more new cruisers than ever before.

Nassau Beach Club


The short cruise market has always been good to Royal Caribbean, but they knew they had a problem with the primary port of call: Nassau.

Royal Caribbean regularly surveys its customers to get feedback on their vacations, and Nassau, Bahamas ranked in the bottom ten percent, according to Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley.

Customers told Royal Caribbean there wasn't anything enticing enough in Nassau, so the line took matters into their own hands.

Royal Beach Club render

In 2025, Royal Caribbean will open its first Royal Beach Club, which is an extra-cost all-inclusive beach on Paradise Island, just across the waterway from where Royal Caribbean's ships dock their ships in Nassau.

Unlike Perfect Day at CocoCay, this will not be open to every single passenger. Rather, it will be a limited capacity area reserved just for Royal Caribbean passengers and you'll need to pay to get in.  

The idea is to offer something no other cruise line can in Nassau: a tropical beach day escape with the familiarity of Royal Caribbean. All the benefits of a shore excursion without concern of dealing with a third party.


The Royal Beach Club will have restaurants, pools, cabanas, and plenty of beach space too.

When it opens, the beach club will ensure taking a weekend Bahamas cruise means no compromise, from ship to shore.

Quantum of the Seas in Los Angeles

On the other side of the country is another big play by Royal Caribbean to improve its position.

Quantum of the Seas will sail from Los Angeles starting in October 2025, becoming among the largest cruise ship to ever sail from there.

Quantum will join Navigator of the Seas in offering cruises from LA, and will sail to ports of call in Mexico.

water and rocks near La Bufadora Ensenada

You'll be able sail on 3-, 4-, and 5-night cruises to Mexico and Catalina Island, California on a ship that offers so much more to do than ships traditionally based in this market.

The Quantum Class ships offer plenty of restaurants, bars, theaters and attractions too. There's bumper cars, full production shows, a sky diving simulator, surfing simulator, and observational pod that takes you over 200 feet above sea level.

Quantum of the Seas

California cruises to the Mexican Riviera have traditionally been dominated by other lines, but Royal Caribbean is doubling its presence in order to expand its foothold there. By placing a ship as big as Quantum, it demonstrates how much of a difference choosing Royal Caribbean is compared to other lines.

First time cruise tips for Royal Caribbean

28 Nov 2023

If you're brand new to a Royal Caribbean cruise, we have some special tips that will make your first cruise much better.

Symphony of the Seas turning

There's no shortage of Royal Caribbean tips, but when you're new to the cruise line, there's a different approach you need to take because some aspects of the experience may be completely different than you expect.

Whether it's your first cruise or your fiftieth, you want it all to go well and have a great time.  Using tried-and-true advice, you can arm yourself with the proper strategy to have a wonderful vacation.

Here's our best advice for someone who is taking their first cruise on Royal Caribbean.

1. Double check you have the right travel documents

An easy rookie mistake to avoid is ensure you have the right travel documents for your cruise.

In order to go on any cruise, you need certain documentation and depending on your nationality, where you're sailing from and to, as well as your itinerary, there could be different requirements.

If everyone sailing has a passport, that's the ideal situation.  Royal Caribbean recommends cruising with a passport that will not expire in less than six months for any cruise, and we agree. Passports are the simplest and best document you can have to cruise.

If you're planning a European, Australian, or Asian cruise, you're going to need a passport for everyone, no matter what.

However, there are some cruises where you could cruise without a passport.

If you're an American citizen sailing on a cruise ship that departs and returns to the same U.S. city, then you can cruise with a birth certificate and state issued identification.

Read moreDo you need a passport for a cruise?

2. Download the Royal Caribbean app and check-in with it

RC app

You really should download and install the Royal Caribbean app before your cruise begins.

The app is a powerful tool that makes the entire experience so much easier, and you're effectively doing yourself a disservice by not getting it.

Get the app and install it while you're at home, and then 30 days before your cruise is scheduled to begin, do the online check-in.

You'll want to check-in exactly 30 days early because that's when the earliest check-in times are available, and most people want to get onboard as early as possible.  If you wait, you'll end up with a check-in time in the afternoon.

Read more30 cruise ship embarkation day do's and don'ts

3. Bring a carry-on bag for embarkation day


Plan to have a small carry-on bag to bring with you around the ship on the first day.

When you arrive at the cruise terminal, porters will greet you and take your luggage to be checked and delivered to your cabin onboard the ship. It's a great service, and you should totally take advantage of it.  There's no cost, but a small tip is expected.

In the time between when you drop off your luggage with the porters and the time it gets delivered, you're going to probably need a few items, such as:

  • Travel documents
  • Cash
  • Hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Medication
  • Phone charger

Read more15 things to pack in your cruise carry-on

There could be more items, but it's a good idea to invest in a small carry-on bag, such as a backpack, small rolling suitcase, or other bag.

4. Pre-book shows, add-ons, and shore excursions

Aquadome on Icon of the Seas

If there's a mantra about planning a great Royal Caribbean cruise, it's to plan as much as possible before the cruise begins.

Royal Caribbean makes a great deal of options available to reserve in the months leading up to your cruise, and doing so could save you money and time.

About 30 days before your cruise, shows will be bookable for Royal Caribbean's biggest ships.  If you're sailing on an Oasis, Quantum, or Icon Class cruise ship, you'll be able to pre-book entertainment.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean ship classes ultimate guide

AquaTheater show on Wonder of the Seas

If you're sailing on any other class of ship, you won't be able to pre-book shows and that's because there's no need.

You can book shows in the Royal Caribbean app or through the Cruise Planner website on Royal Caribbean's homepage.

Show reservations are complimentary, so you should make a reservation. Keep in mind reservations will go very quickly, so it's likely shows will sell out. If you don't get into a show, not to worry. Standby lines will be available and if you arrive early, you'll probably be able to make it into the show.

Soda cup

Speaking of pre-booking, you ought to pre-book extra cost add-ons to save money. Royal Caribbean has an array of possible things to buy for your cruise, including drink packages, specialty dining packages, WiFi packages, spa treatments, and shore excursions.

To be clear, you will pay more if you wait to book these items onboard the ship.  So if you know you want them, book them before the cruise.

A common question is if it's worth it to buy them, and the answer it depends on the person.  Beverage packages and dining packages can absolutely save you money, provided you take advantage of them to make it worthwhile.

In terms of picking a shore excursion, you will want to research the ports of call you are visiting to make plans now.

You will want to have a plan for what to do in these ports in advance, rather than trying to wing and it and risking missing out.

In nearly all cases, you'll be in port for around six or eight hours, so picking a tour or a plan to hit up one or three spots is a good idea.

Kids on an Alaska cruise

Organized tours are the most popular way to visit any port of call. Royal Caribbean offers its own set of shore excursions you can purchase from the website or the app, but you could also plan to do something on your own.

There are pros and cons to booking a tour with the cruise line or through a third-party. Do your research and have a plan so you can have a really fun day in port.

Read moreTop 10 cruise ship shore excursion mistakes to avoid

5. Book your cruise as early as possible for the best price

Wonder of the Seas

Want to save the most money possible on a Royal Caribbean cruise? Book your cruise as early as you can.

Generally speaking, the best price for a Royal Caribbean cruise is when you book as many months in advance as possible.  This is because as cruise ship cabins get booked up, the amount of available cabins drops and prices go up.

Ideally, you'll book your cruise as soon as Royal Caribbean puts the sailing on sale.  Yes, that's two years or more in advance.

By booking that far in advance, not only will you get a low fare, but you can get the exact cabin category you want.  The cheapest cabins and the most expensive suites are the first types of rooms to be sold out and they are both highly desirable.

Read moreThe 5 best cabin locations on a cruise ship

6. Avoid bringing any prohibited items

Clothing steamer iron

There are things you can bring on an airplane that you can't bring on a cruise ship, many that would surprise you.

Packing for a cruise involves a lot of things that you'll need, but there are a few items you shouldn't bother packing because if you do, Royal Caribbean will confiscated them.

This includes:

  • Firearms, ammunition, handcuffs, pepper spray, night sticks
  • Coffee makers, clothing irons, travel steamers, electric kettles and hot plates
  • Candles, incense, flammable liquids and explosives (including lighter fluid and fireworks), hookahs and water hookah pipes
  • Power strip and surge protectors
  • Dangerous Chemicals, including bleach and paint
  • Drugs (including medically prescribed marijuana)
  • Beer or liquors
Voyager of the Seas oceanview cabin

Some of these may seem self-explanatory, but the appliances and candles are the most commonly confiscated items because people don't realize they aren't allowed due to being a fire hazard.

Don't even bother trying, all bags go through a screening machine and they will see them and take it.

Read moreWhat can you not bring on a cruise

7. Fly to your cruise port a day or two early

Airplane in the clouds

The single costliest mistake you could make is flying to your cruise port the same day the cruise is scheduled to set sail.

Since Royal Caribbean cruises depart in the afternoon, a lot of newbies will think to book a flight that arrives in the morning on the same day of the cruise.  This is such a dangerous decision, because even a minor delay could prevent you from being able to board the ship.

Read moreThe costly cruising mistake newbies make planning their first cruise

New York as seen from Bayonne

What you want to do instead is book a flight at least one day before embarkation day so that you can protect yourself against any travel delays. Plus, you'll have more time to explore the city you're in and start your vacation a little bit earlier.

If you are traveling overseas for a cruise, we advise flying in at least two days early not only because of travel delays but to acclimate yourself to the local time and jet lag. Starting your international cruise without feeling exhausted is so important given how port intensive it tends to be.

8. Plan to bring your own soda and wine

Wine brought onboard

Royal Caribbean won't let you bring beer or liquor on your cruise, but you can bring a limited amount of wine and soft drinks.

Royal Caribbean allows one bottle of wine (or champagne) per adult in the cabin to be brought onboard on embarkation day. In addition, you can bring up to 12 standard cans, bottles or cartons of nonalcoholic drinks.

Bringing your own drinks can save a lot of money on a bar tab.

Read more: Royal Caribbean drink prices

9. Do the signature activities on the first day

Icon of the Seas water park

There's a good chance you picked a cruise ship because of the fun attractions available onboard, but so did everyone else too.

Activities like the Flowrider surf simulator, water slides, bumper cars, and sky diving simulators are just some of the top must-dos, so the best time to try any of them is on the first day of the cruise.

Embarkation day is busy, and most people are still finding their way around the ship.  Heck, some might be oblivious these are options to do until later in the cruise.  The water-based activities are perfect for embarkation day because most people packed their swimsuit in their checked luggage.

Grab lunch and then hit up these signature attractions on day one.

10. Keep your phone in airplane mode

Woman using iphone

If you want to avoid a giant cell phone bill due to thousands of dollars in cell phone charges when you get home, make one simple change to your phone after boarding.

Cruise ships have a cell phone antenna on them, but they're out of network. When a phone is outside of its normal cellular network, and you try to use a cell phone for calls, data, or texting on someone else's network, you incur crazy high rates.

Many cellular plans (even international plans) do not include calls, texts, or data on cruise ships and they will charge you extremely high roaming rates for such services that will show up weeks later on your phone bill.

The easy way to prevent this from ever happening to you is to put your phone into airplane mode.

If you want to stay connected on your cruise, you can buy a WiFi package, which will let you make FaceTime calls and stream videos over Wi-Fi without using phone data.

11. You can re-price your cruise and add-ons

We talked about how important it is to book your cruise fare and add-ons early to lock in a good price, but what happens if there's a price drop later?

Anyone can cancel and rebook a Cruise Planner purchase at any time before the cruise begins.  That way, if the drink package or shore excursion price goes down, you can easily cancel and reprice it.

What if your cruise fare goes down? Many people hesitate to book early because they worry about missing out on a better deal later on.

If you're a resident of certain countries (such as the United States or Canada), you can get your fare reduced to match the lower price up until the final payment date.

12. Use a travel agent to book your cruise

There are many ways to book a Royal Caribbean cruise, but using a travel agent is the best choice.

There are so many decisions to make when booking a cruise as a first timer that you're much better off using an experienced travel agent to help.

A good travel agent will charge nothing extra for their services, and get a sense of your interests, needs, and travel style to help guide you through the booking process, as well as answer questions and deal with problems later on.

In addition, travel agents could spot special discounts or deals you might not find on your own, such as group rates or nabbing extra onboard credit.

Read moreWhy first-time cruisers should use a Royal Caribbean travel agent

I took my first short cruise. Here's 7 things I liked and didn't like about my 3-night sailing

17 Oct 2023

How much of a difference is there between a week-long cruise versus a short cruise?


As a new cruiser, I wanted to try cruises of different lengths to see how different they are and which I like best.

For my first cruise, I chose a 7-night sailing on Wonder of the Seas that stopped at a total of 3 ports: Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and Sint Maarten.

After that week, I was ready to move forward with my newfound wisdom from my maiden voyage, so I went ahead and planned a second cruise on Freedom of the Seas

This time, I selected a much shorter 3-night sailing. The ship traveled from Miami, Florida, to Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas over a weekend, embarking on Friday and disembarking on Monday.  

There were pros and cons to choosing a shorter sailing. Here are the 7 things I liked and didn’t like about my first short cruise.

Read more: What’s a good amount of days for a first cruise?

👍 What I liked about a short cruise


I'll start with the things that I enjoyed about trying a shorter cruise.

It had no long sea days

On my first cruise, day five and six were sea days and it left me feeling a little claustrophobic when surrounded by the ocean. I started to miss my own house and bed.

Despite the fact that Wonder of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world, I felt stuck onboard during these sea days.

I was able to mitigate the cabin fever by investigating new areas onboard.

I was very thankful that I chose the shorter cruise for my experience on a smaller ship: Freedom of the Seas was the perfect size to explore over 3 days. 

On this short cruise, we had no distinct sea days and instead spent each day at a port. I enjoyed the speed of travel and the fact that we spent less time on the open water.

Based on these experiences, I definitely recommend limiting cruises on smaller ships to no more than 5 days—but I look forward to testing this theory for myself.

I preferred visiting fewer ports


I also liked that we visited two ports instead of the three we stopped at on my first cruise.

Although I love to travel and appreciate seeing as many new places as possible, this allowed me more time to focus on the ports we did stop at.

I was able to prioritize those two locations—Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas—in my research and planning beforehand.

Because of that, I had a much better experience at Perfect Day at CocoCay, and I arrived at Nassau with more knowledge and background about the island. 

On my first cruise, I did enjoy getting to see the multiple ports—Perfect Day at CocoCay, Saint Thomas, and Sint Maarten—but I wasn’t able to do as much research beforehand or feel quite as knowledgeable before the trip.

Having fewer parts allowed me to focus in on each one and make the most of that time.

Shorter travel time made things simple


My cruise itself was only three days, and even with our policy of arriving at the port city the night before, my total travel time was only four days, from Thursday night to Monday afternoon.

This made it easier to schedule the shorter cruise and brought me back home quickly.

Although I love to travel, this overall eased my mind and made things much simpler.

A shorter cruise is a great option for younger or working adults who only have time for a weekend trip.

It was the perfect small getaway in the middle of September.

👎 What I disliked about a short cruise


Like everything in life, there are some downsides to a shorter cruise.

It was difficult to fit in all the events


Because of the limited amount of time on my Freedom of the Seas cruise, I had to carefully pick and choose which events I attended.

If this had been my first cruise, I would have had a lot of trouble distinguishing between which events I wanted to attend and which could fall by the wayside.

Thankfully, I came with a little more experience and was able to select the most important events I wanted to go to.

However, I still didn’t have enough time to see everything. It would have been fun to attend even more of the game shows or performances offered onboard.

We had less time to try different venues 


Similar to the previous point, a shorter cruise gave me much less time to try different dining venues.

I wrote on my must-do list to eat at the Windjammer, the main dining room, El Loco Fresh, Cafe Promenade, Sorrento's Pizza, and the specialty Ben and Jerry’s location.

I ended up having time to try Cafe Promenade, Sorrento's Pizza, and the specialty Chops Grille restaurant.

However, I mainly dined at Windjammer for the length of this cruise because of the ease of dining and the ability to choose all my own meals. 

When you’re in a rush, the Windjammer is one of the best places to grab a meal.

In the end, I completely missed the opportunity to try El Loco Fresh and Ben and Jerry’s! 

Read more: Here's the one must-eat place on every Royal Caribbean ship

People seemed less friendly 


I noticed that people were a little less friendly on my second cruise than on my first cruise. 

My theory is that for shorter cruises, passengers are focused on the groups or friends they came with and on enjoying their time together.

While I had passing conversations with people on Freedom of the Seas, I found nothing close near to the close-knit friendships I’d made on Wonder of the Seas. 

On my longer cruise, I found that people were much more willing to make friends and hang out multiple times over the week of travel.

Neither is a bad perspective to have, but I was looking forward to meeting some new people, and I didn’t quite do that on my second cruise.

The time really flew by


Despite the benefits of a shorter cruise, a major disadvantage is just how quickly it seems to fly by. Three nights and barely three full days pass by swiftly!

While it was a fun experience, and I did get to try many different things on this cruise, the time period was so short that I can hardly remember what happened.

If you’re planning to spend a lot of money on your cruise and get the most out of a longer vacation, a short cruise is definitely a disadvantage in this way.

A short vs long cruise


Overall, I learned that seven nights was too long for me.

However, a seven night cruise did allow for plenty of time to explore the ship and experience countless events and four shows.

In contrast, my short Freedom of the Seas cruise was only three nights. We stopped at just two ports, had fewer events to go on, and only attended two shows. 

Although it was a smaller ship, and there was less of it to explore, I wished I had more time to attend events and shows onboard. 

Where my first cruise had dragged a little long, my second one flew by in a flash. 

There are benefits to choosing a short cruise, but I think my personal sweet spot would be somewhere between three and seven days, such as a 5-night sailing. 

13 things I wish I'd done differently on my first cruise, from avoiding seasickness to eating at different venues

06 Oct 2023

After returning from my first cruise ever, there are some things I would do differently to save money and make the most of my trip.


I booked a 7-day sailing on Wonder of the Seas, traveling from Port Canaveral, Florida, to Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.

I had a lovely time, enjoying the ship's dining, amenities, entertainment, and shore explorations.

However, hindsight is always our best teacher. 

Looking back, I can see many missed opportunities, overlooked details, and chances for improvement.

From packing to avoiding seasickness to eating at different venues, a little introspection reveals valuable tips for future cruises. 

I’ll introduce the 13 things I wish I’d done differently.

You can learn from them too, by avoiding the mistakes I made! 

Explored more on Perfect Day at CocoCay


I had a just-alright experience on Perfect Day at CocoCay. My sister and I woke up in the middle of the morning and went out to a couple beaches. We grabbed free snacks and listened to music while lounging by the water.

By the middle of the day, it started to get more cloudy, so we packed up and returned to the ship.

Weather does make an impact on your experience there. But knowing what I know now, I think we could have maximized time on the island.

I would recommend arriving earlier and visiting the Oasis Lagoon. The pool and floating bar there looked fun, but we arrived too late to find free spaces.

I also later saw cool shore excursions offered, like snorkeling, swimming with pigs, and a glass-bottom boat tour.  Those come with an extra cost, but it could be worth it for the experience!

As far as complimentary options, I later learned that sports and fitness classes are free on Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

Although we grabbed snacks, I didn’t realize that a full lunch is complimentary, offered at Splashaway Bay, Captain Jill's Galleon, Skipper's Grill, Chill Grill, and the Snack Shack.

Gone to game shows, even if just to watch


When I scrolled through event options on the Royal Caribbean app, I saw many game shows, trivia nights, and activities listed.

While I didn’t go to all of them, I did try out a few, and they were a lot of fun!

For example, my sister and I saw the Love and Marriage game show, where the audience selected couples, and an announcer asked them funny questions.

For the most part, I avoided game shows that didn’t seem like my style. But looking back, I think I could have tried them out. 

I also chose to go to a showing of inTENse and missed the Crazy Quest game show, one of my biggest regrets. I wish that I had stayed behind and participated in the fun!

The shows and games were hilarious and a fun way to see our fellow cruisers.

Read more: 50 things everyone should do on a Royal Caribbean cruise at least once

Booked a better cabin

We decided to book a guarantee stateroom for the cruise, ensuring a cheaper rate but giving up the privilege of choosing our room.

While this saved money, we ended up being assigned a small interior cabin at the front of the ship.

This location left me feeling seasick, and the room was dark and windowless. 

Although we didn’t mind having the cabin to sleep in, I would have enjoyed a nicer view and a more spacious stateroom.

For a first cruise, I think upgrading to a better cabin and getting the most out of our experience would have been worth it. 

Tried out the casino


I know this tip isn’t for everyone, and I was initially nervous about gambling. 

However, I walked through the casino a few times and noticed how crowded and active it was.

Even if they weren’t playing or betting anything, people stood and watched around poker tables or chatted at slot machines.

It seemed like a fun and sociable way to pass the time, as long as you’re gambling responsibly.

I wish I had just tried it out—and used the opportunity to chat with other cruisers. 

Gone to movie nights instead of watching TV

Prior to cruising, I knew I would want to watch TV to relax and have a quiet moment on my cruise.

When we arrived, I saw that our stateroom on the ship had a Smart TV. This allowed me to log into streaming services using my phone and use Chromecast to stream shows directly to the TV.

However, I wish I had taken advantage of the movie nights on the ship, usually playing on the pool deck or at the AquaTheater

Although it meant I couldn’t choose which media to watch, those movies featured a bigger screen, better sound, and the opportunity to grab food and drinks or talk to people around me. 

Visited more complimentary food venues


I had heard whispers of praise about the food on Royal Caribbean ships, so I boarded the ship ready to try all the different dishes I could.

Ultimately, all the options on the cruise exceeded my expectations. Throughout my seven-day cruise, I was blown away by the variety and flavor of the meals I tried.

I visited specialty venues, including Izumi Hibachi, Wonderland, and the Mason Jar, and found that the venues provided a more private and formal experience.

However, they didn’t necessarily have the highest quality food. Some of my favorite meals were included in the fare, like the Windjammer's beef stew and cheesecake in the main dining room.

With that in mind, I wish I had enjoyed more complimentary food options.

On Wonder of the Seas, your fare includes meals in the Windjammer, the main dining room, room service like continental breakfast, and additional grab-and-go spots. 

I enjoyed the food at Windjammer, the main dining room, and Sorrento’s pizza, but I had no idea that complimentary food was also offered at the Boardwalk Dog House, Café Promenade, El Loco Fresh, Park Café, Solarium Bistro, and Vitality Café. 

If I had known about all the complimentary food options beforehand, exploring and seeing how much was included in the fare would have been fun. 

Done less planning ahead of time

Celebrity app

Before my first cruise, I did extensive planning and made every kind of list possible: packing, to-do, and checklists.

I even created a full itinerary, planning every event down to the hour. 

However, once we arrived onboard, I quickly realized that the trip would be much easier than expected. Most of my planning turned out to be completely unnecessary.

The intense itinerary I made turned out to be unnecessary, as the Royal Caribbean app has a full schedule and allows you to simply select an event and add it to your schedule.

Not only that, but the app also includes information on when and where each event is, any price included, what you may need to bring, and if there is any age limit.

It also automatically connects your schedule with cruises on the same reservation, so I could create and access the same calendar with my travel companion. 

Most of my planning turned out to be unnecessary, and I wish I’d spent more time relaxing! 

Read more: Cruise Planner Trick: Add custom events to calendar

Not packed a laptop 

Working remote on a laptop from a cruise ship

Since I purchased the Voom Internet plan, I decided to bring multiple devices to use on my cruise. 

When I’m at home, I often use my iPhone and laptop in tandem. I thought bringing my laptop along on the cruise would make sense. However, I ended up only using my phone and regretted wasting packing space on my laptop. 

Being on a ship can be unpredictable when it comes to your valuables. By bringing my laptop, I ran the risk of falling into water, getting wet at the pool, or being dropped on a deck.

Traveling with a laptop is already a risk: I had to keep it safe in a bag and make sure it was secured in our hotel room. Considering I barely used my laptop, keeping it safe was more effort than it was worth.

It also turned out that the provided safe in our cabin was too small to fit my laptop, so I had to leave it in the cabin and hope for the best.

Purchased WiFi for fewer days

I ended up regretting the amount of access I had to the Internet.

A cruise should be an ocean vacation, with time spent at various onboard activities, the beach, or exploring ports. 

But the constant WiFi connection made the cruise feel less relaxing. 

Social media can be consuming—a beach vacation isn’t the same if you can instantly pull up your email. 

My sister, who traveled with me, only purchased WiFi for one sea day. This allowed her to check any important notifications for that day and continue to disconnect and unwind for the rest of the cruise.

In the future, I would want to follow a similar plan and bring fewer devices. Being connected to every aspect of the Internet made it hard to relax. 

Packed all essentials, including medicine, in my carry-on

I had read this tip before the cruise, but not following it entirely is one of my biggest regrets.

Before my cruise, I packed a smaller carry-on bag and bigger luggage, much like on an airplane.

Since you’ll leave a bigger piece of luggage with the porters, the line recommends that you pack all of your essentials and valuables in your carry-on.

I assumed this tip was just in case your luggage got lost, so I did pack my valuables in my carry-on but left my medicine and other essentials in my larger bag.

On embarkation day, we entered the ship around 12:30 P.M. and could access our cabin around 2:00 P.M. But we did not receive our larger bags until after 4:00 P.M. 

During that gap, I wished I had packed more toiletries and maybe even a change of clothes in my carry-on. You never want to be stuck waiting around for your bag to arrive. 

Remembered that I pre-paid tips

Dining room waiter

I never want to be tight-fisted, but budgeting your money is important on a cruise, especially a longer one.

Passengers can pay a daily gratuity to cover the services of hard-working crew members. They will see a daily charge on their SeaPass card for these tips.

These gratuities are shared among the dining, bar, and culinary teams, stateroom attendants, and the hotel service team.

On the other hand, passengers can also choose to prepay gratuities, including them in the total cost of the fare.

When I arrived onboard, I forgot that we had pre-paid gratuities before boarding. 

I paid for a drink at the bar and then added a tip, cringing at how high the price became.

Later, I remembered that we had already paid tips, so tipping again was optional but not necessary.

Taken a Dramamine immediately before boarding 


I haven’t struggled with motion sickness much before, so I did not expect to feel seasick on my cruise. 

More experienced cruisers advised me to take Dramamine before boarding to offset the chances of feeling sick when we set sail.

However, I didn’t expect any motion sickness, so I opted to just wait and see.

As soon as the ship set sail, I felt nauseous and unsteady. This was aggravated by the fact that we were assigned a forward cabin through the guarantee stateroom process. 

I found that my seasickness was worse when I was at the front of the ship or looking at the water. 

Thankfully, I felt better after taking a Dramamine pill, but I could have prevented a miserable first night by taking it beforehand.

Brought a wide variety of clothes, including gym clothes


Although I tried my best to plan ahead when packing, I didn’t foresee the sheer amount of different activities we would have access to.

If I could do it over, I would pack outfits for activities like laser tag, biking, water parks, and more. I wish I had packed more pants and shorts, and fewer beachy dresses. 

Sneakers are also required for any sports activities onboard, such as visiting the basketball court or ice skating.

I probably could not have packed for every event, but my best advice would be to bring as many different outfits as possible.

I've never been on a cruise, but spent a week researching what I need to know. My top 11 important lessons I think I learned

30 Sep 2023

In preparing for my first cruise ever, I discovered a few things after I sailed that really made a difference onboard.

Wonder of the Seas lessons learned

Last month, I took my very first cruise on Wonder of the Seas. The 7-day sailing traveled from Port Canaveral, Florida, to Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.

There was lots to do to prepare. In addition to packing and planning my travel, I had to actually book the cruise, check in online, and plan my onboard events

Although there was a lot to do, planning wasn’t impossible. I had plenty of help from our travel agent, and the Royal Caribbean app and website were easily accessible.

Sitting in Central Park with laptop

I read articles, watched YouTube videos and TikToks, and perused the Royal Caribbean app and website for information. 

Although I still had a lot to learn from experience, researching ahead of time helped me prepare and understand what to expect and save money while ensuring I had the best experience possible.

I wanted to share the top 11 lessons I learned and what information turned out to be most helpful for my first cruise. 

1. It’s cheaper to get cash ahead of time

Cash on cruise ship

As someone who doesn’t usually carry cash, I was surprised to hear that I would need physical money on my cruise.

Thankfully, I listened to the advice I’d heard and went to an ATM before leaving home. I picked up about $40 in change and kept it in my wallet. 

I ended up using cash to tip the porters at the cruise terminal and to purchase souvenirs at our ports of call. 

AMT Machine

Using an ATM before I left home also saved me money because the ATMs onboard the cruise ship charge a convenience fee. 

I wished I had brought even more cash, too—to tip our room attendant and tour guides on shore excursions. For my next cruise, I’ll be sure to get $50 to $60 in cash ahead of time.

2. Bring a water bottle—or two


I ended up feeling very thankful that I brought my trusty Hydroflask along. (Link contains affiliate link, which costs you nothing extra to use!)

A water bottle is useful for traveling to the cruise terminal, whether by plane, car, or train.

Once you’re onboard, as well, you’ll want a way to store water in your cabin. I found that I could fill up my Hydroflask with cool water at the Windjammer, then bring it back to our stateroom and have cool water available all through the night.

Reusable water bottle

When I did forget to fill it up, I found myself parched and unable to access water unless I left our room.

Our stateroom attendant did leave plastic cups in the bathroom for teeth brushing, which I could drink from in an emergency. 

However, I prefer to drink filtered or bottled water and mainly try to remember to fill up my personal bottle. 

In the future, I plan to bring at least one water bottle on my cruise.

3. The food is great, but you’ll want snacks

Taki chips

I enjoyed all the food offerings onboard. Some of my favorite meals were included in the fare, like the Windjammer's beef stew and cheesecake in the main dining room.

However, packing a few snacks helped tide me between meals or at nighttime when fewer options were available.

Thanks to the advice I saw online, I packed a few options for midnight snacking: Taki chips, sweet candy, and gluten-free cookies. 

I appreciated having something to eat at night or between meals without spending the money for room service or dragging myself out of the cabin to find a snack.

4. Cruise line shore excursions are a good way to get started 

I saw mixed opinions on this point: is it better to go on a shore excursion through your cruise line or to explore independently?

As a first-time cruiser, I chose to go on two Royal Caribbean shore excursions when we visited St. Thomas and St. Maarten. 

On St. Thomas, my sister and I took a bus tour of the island and then spent some time at Magen’s Bay. After relaxing at the beach for a few hours, our guides took us to an outlook and souvenir location.


On St. Maarten, we took a bicycle tour of Philipsburg, with a complimentary drink and a break at a local beach.

Although these excursions are usually more pricey than independent tours, I felt reassured when it came to finding the best activities and staying on schedule. 

Royal Caribbean’s excursions will ensure you make it back to the boat on time or even delay the ship while waiting for your group to return.

Dominica beach

If your ship can’t stop at a port for any reason, the shore excursion will also be fully refunded.

I understood that these excursions were more expensive, touristy versions of local adventures. But for my first cruise, they were worth it to put my mind at ease. 

5. Arrive at the port a day early 

When I started booking and preparing for my cruise, I learned that arriving at your port the day before you board the ship is usually recommended.

This was a surprise, as I had to push up my travel plans one day. Since the cruise left on a Sunday, we decided to get into Port Canaveral on Saturday afternoon.

For Saturday night, we booked a hotel room near the port and were able to take a shuttle straight to the ship in the morning. It definitely made the process smoother and stress-free. 

And who doesn’t appreciate an extra night in a good hotel?

Marriott Fort Lauderdale

The only downside with this extra day of travel was that it made our cruise feel extra long. 

Instead of just a 7-day cruise, we had about 8 full days of travel. And by the end, I was ready to be home in my own bed.

Read more: The costly cruising mistake newbies make planning their first cruise

6. Dramamine helps with seasickness

Sea day ocean view on Allure of the Seas

I was glad I read up on the possibility of seasickness before my cruise. Although I didn’t think I would experience it, we packed Dramamine just to be sure.

As it turned out, I felt dizzy and nauseous as soon as the ship set sail. Since we had a forward cabin, I felt the rocking of the boat much more intensely. 

Thankfully, I was able to take a Dramamine pill right away, and I felt better. As long as I took one every 12 hours, I was able to survive feeling seasick. 

Heading midship, staring at the horizon, and limiting my alcohol consumption all helped ease my motion sickness too. 

Read moreDramamine vs Bonine: Which motion sickness medicine is best?

7. Bring your own body wash, shampoo, and conditioner 

Before my cruise, I read many reviews that stated the complimentary body and hair wash offered on the ship were not quality.

With this in mind—and my own preferences for moisturizing, clean products—I was sure to pack my own body wash and hair care.

Sure enough, the complimentary soap in our bathroom was a 3-in-1 body wash, shampoo, and conditioner with a strong scent I didn’t like. I was very thankful I brought my own toiletries, allowing me to continue my personal self-care routine.

8. Pack a variety of clothes, including formal outfits

Calista boarding Wonder of the Seas

Knowing that Royal Caribbean charges additional fees for laundry services, I consciously packed a varied wardrobe to last me through the entire 7-day trip. 

I carefully selected outfits that would accommodate casual days at sea, outings on shore excursions, and the more formal or themed nights on the cruise. 

By packing a diverse range of clothing options, I was well-prepared without worrying about laundry expenses or missing out on any special events due to inadequate attire.

Still, my research didn’t prepare me for the sheer breadth of different activities I would have access to, from laser tag to ice skating to rock climbing. 

I’ll be sure to pack an even wider variety of clothing for future cruises. 

9. Prepare to socialize

For more introverted individuals like me, it can help to prepare yourself before social situations.

From my research, I could tell that my cruise would require a lot of social energy.

And I ended up being very sociable: from check-ins with staff, dinners with multiple waiters, friendly conversations with people on elevators to even making friends at events. 

All travel involves social interaction, but cruisers are unusually friendly—I met people in hot tubs, at the casino, and at dance parties. 

While these interactions were delightful, I felt glad I’d prepared myself beforehand.

I was also able to find some quiet locations onboard so I could escape if it all got too overwhelming. 

10. Tour the ship when you first get onboard

A lot of advice online suggests that you start by touring the ship right away when you board—and I followed this to the letter.

After my sister and I boarded, we found the fitness center, toured Central Park and the surrounding decks, and headed to the Windjammer and pool area. 

After having lunch and walking around the pool, we located our cabin.

Especially on a big ship like Wonder of the Seas, it helped to start by getting the lay of things. Handy maps were also located in every hallway and elevator, so getting lost would have been hard.

11. Unpack everything right away

This tip is most helpful for longer cruises. When you have many days of sailing, ports, and activities, it helps to unpack right away and organize your things.

For example, I put my toiletries on shelves and my snacks in drawers. I hung up all my jackets and dresses and then set out my shoes in the corner.

Later on, I was glad that I had unpacked because it helped me stay organized and get ready faster. This also ensured my clothes didn’t stay wrinkled or get smelly while packed in a bag.

Since I knew where everything was—and didn’t have to dig through a bag to find it—we could get dressed and out the door much quicker. 

This hack saved time and helped us get to activities, events, ports, and dinners on time. 

Read more15 Things To Do As Soon as You Get to Your Cruise Cabin

11 things I wish I knew before setting foot on a cruise ship

14 Sep 2023

Embarking on your cruise vacation is an exciting experience. After all, a cruise promises adventure, relaxation, entertainment, and exotic destinations, all at your fingertips. 

However, as you step onto the ship, it’s important to be well-prepared to make the most of your cruise experience.

When it comes to cruising, there are many cruising tips and insider secrets that can enhance your journey and ensure you have smooth sailing.

As a first-time cruiser, I had a lot to learn on my recent Wonder of the Seas sailing. I was surprised by many aspects of cruising, especially compared to the past forms of travel I’ve taken.

In this post, I’ll delve into 11 valuable insights that I wish I’d known before setting foot on that cruise ship. 

Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a veteran looking to enhance your next trip, these tips will help you confidently navigate cruising waters. 

1. If you don’t like the entertainment, just leave

During my first few days on the ship, I tried to commit to each activity, especially those we had reserved beforehand

If we went to a show, we stuck it out. Or if I attended a night at the Attic nightclub, I ensured I stayed as long as possible. 

But as time went on, I realized that the ship had so many options that it would be ridiculous to try to commit to each and every one. 

I learned to make quick decisions, and if I wasn’t feeling an event, to just leave! 

For example, I was viewing one performance of the (very talented) Voices acapella group, but it wasn’t my style. The unfamiliar music was made miserable by the fact that I could smell a man’s shoeless, stinky feet next to me. 

My sister and I quickly decided to leave the performance and attend a silent disco party instead. The silent disco was much more my speed and became one of my favorite events of the week! 

2. You don’t have to watch the balloon drop from below

I stumbled into this tip by accident. 

On night one, before the balloon drop, we decided to quickly explore Central Park, which happened to be located right above the Royal Promenade. We looked down the pretty glass windows and observed all the cruisers waiting for the balloons to drop. 

As a fascinated people-watcher, I decided to stay in that location and watch the balloons fall onto the partygoers below.

This gave us a lovely view and a separation from the noise of all the balloons popping at the end.

If you are growing tired of the balloon drop, scared of loud noises, or even allergic to the balloons, try watching the drop from a more separate location, such as in beautiful Central Park.

3. Keep all essentials in your carry-on

Boarding Wonder of the Seas

I had read this tip before the cruise, but not following it entirely is one of my biggest regrets.

Before your cruise, you’ll pack a smaller carry-on bag and a bigger piece of luggage, much like on an airplane.

Since you’ll leave a bigger piece of luggage with the porters, it’s important to pack all of your essentials and valuables in your carry-on.

I assumed this tip was just in case your luggage got lost, so I did pack my valuables in my carry-on but left my medicine and other essentials in my larger bag.

On embarkation day, we entered the ship around 12:30 P.M. and could access our cabin around 2:00 P.M. But we did not receive our larger bags until after 4:00 P.M. 

During that gap, I wished I had packed more toiletries and maybe even a change of clothes in my carry-on. You never want to be stuck waiting around for your bag to arrive. 

4. The front of the ship will (probably) make you seasick

I haven’t struggled with motion sickness much before, so I did not expect to feel seasick on my cruise. 

However, as soon as the ship set sail, I felt nauseous and unsteady. This was aggravated by the fact that we were assigned a forward cabin through the guarantee stateroom process. 

I found that my seasickness was worse when I was at the very front of the ship or looking at the water. 

Thankfully, I had planned ahead enough to bring Dramamine, but I always felt best when I got out of the room and headed midship. 

5. 7 days feels like a long cruise

My recent cruise was a 7-day sailing, stopping at Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.

By days 5 and 6, which mainly were sea days, I felt myself getting a little claustrophobic. The ocean started to feel inescapable, and I missed my own bed. 

Being on a cruise feels unique because you cannot leave until the ship is at port. 

Thankfully, Wonder of the Seas is such a vast ship that 7 days hardly felt like enough time to explore it. 

I was able to minimize the cabin fever by investigating new areas onboard. 

However, in the future—especially on smaller ships—I would limit myself to 4 or 5 days.

Read more: Should I take a short or a long cruise?

6. You’ll need cash, but there is an ATM onboard

I knew from my research before the cruise that I would need cash on hand for porters, tour guides, or any emergencies at our ports.

Since I don’t usually carry cash, I had to rush to an ATM before we left for the cruise. However, I didn’t realize that there would be an ATM onboard the ship—there was no need to panic.

Either way, having cash on hand was useful. I was able to tip our porters, and some souvenir shops on St. Maarten had a minimum total before we could use a credit or debit card. 

7. Bring the broadest possible range of outfits

Although I tried my best to plan ahead when packing, I didn’t foresee the sheer amount of different activities we would have access to.

If I could do it over, I would pack outfits for activities like laser tag, ice skating, biking, water parks, and more.

One of the best packing decisions I made was to bring every single swimsuit I owned: I used them all and even bought a new one on St. Maarten. 

In addition to needing a swimsuit every day, we sometimes went to the beach at noon and the hot tub at night, requiring two different swimsuits. 

I probably could not have packed for every event, but my best advice would be to bring as many different outfits as possible.

8. Many features are included in the fare, but the rest are expensive

As I began booking and planning ahead for the cruise, I was surprised to learn how much was included in the base fare. 

The fare includes meals in the Windjammer, the main dining room, the Solarium bistro, room service like continental breakfast, and grab-and-go spots like Sorrento’s Pizza, Park Cafe, and Cafe Promenade. 

In the end, some of my favorite meals were included in the base fare, like the Windjammer's beef stew and cheesecake at the main dining room.

However, I learned that any extra features would add up quickly once I set foot onboard.

For example, I chose not to purchase a drink package and ended up paying $16 to $17 each time I ordered an alcoholic drink. 

9. Most people follow the dress codes, but only for dinner

Calista selfie at dining room

Before my cruise, I knew of the dress codes, especially certain themed nights, like formal night or “dress your best.”

I chose not to particularly prepare for them while packing, other than bringing a few nice dresses. 

On the cruise, I saw many people following the day's dress code. Cruisers wore fancy dresses and suits on formal night and “dress your best” night, and I saw many Hawaiian shirts on Caribbean night. 

However, most themed outfits seemed to be only at dinnertime and for photos. At events after dinner and into the night, cruisers slipped back into the more casual, beachy attire worn for the majority of the cruise. 

10. Bring a wide variety of snacks to save money

Thanks to the advice I saw online, I packed a few options for midnight snacking: Taki chips, sweet candy, and gluten-free cookies. This ended up being one of my best packing decisions. 

I appreciated having something to eat at night or in between meals without spending the money for room service or dragging myself out of the cabin to find a snack.

I only wish I had known to bring more types of snacks, as I snacked at all times of the day. 

11. The food included in the fare tastes just as good as the specialty restaurants

Some of my favorite meals were included in the fare: lunches at the Windjammer, main dining room dinners, and complimentary coffee.

We reserved dinner at three specialty restaurants to compare: Izumi Hibachi, Wonderland, and Mason Jar

While we had a wonderful dining experience at these restaurants, I found that the quality of food was very similar to the meals included in the fare. For example, Mason Jar’s offerings tasted much like the Windjammer’s food, just limited to the specific Southern theme and enhanced by the decorations and plating. 

While we appreciated the experience at specialty restaurants, I wouldn’t call it a must-have: the free food was just fine.

Read more: I tried Royal Caribbean's new main dining room menus, and here's what I thought.

10 reasons why I didn't want to go on a cruise, but glad I gave it a try

12 Sep 2023

Cruising has grown in popularity over the last ten years, an enjoyable vacation choice for many individuals.


However, some people might still feel skeptical about the value of this form of travel.

Besides the fact that travel is not accessible to everyone, there are many reasons why someone might choose not to go on a cruise. 

My opinion on cruising was no exception until recently. I have explored various other modes of travel but hadn’t wanted to cruise until I ventured onto the seas for the first time just last month aboard Wonder of the Seas.

Like many preconceived ideas, my cruising reservations were based on misinformation and inexperience and could only be disproved with further research or personal experience. 

From concerns about the overall cost to health issues in the age of COVID-19, I’ll introduce the top reasons I never wanted to cruise before.

In light of my recent cruise on Wonder of the Seas, I’ll also explain whether or not I found my concerns accurate.

Read more: 10 Ways Cruising Has Changed in the Last 30 Years

1. It’s too expensive

Before my first cruise, I assumed that cruising would be a too-expensive luxury. 

As it turns out, cruising is one of the most affordable forms of travel since accommodations, meals, and entertainment are all included in the base fare.

On my Wonder of the Seas cruise, we paid $2,674.76 for the base fare, about $382 per night for two people.

Since we only booked this cruise about a month beforehand, this is still a competitive price for such a new, large cruise ship.

We definitely could have saved money by booking our cruise earlier, ahead of time, or waiting for sales. 

Considering that traditional travel includes the cost of transportation, hotel or Airbnb accommodations, and meals, even before the cost of activities and entertainment, I think our cruise offered more value for the money.

Additional expenses, like drinks, specialty dining, or shore excursions, do quickly add up, but those costs can be minimized with careful planning.

In fact, it’s possible to plan a cruise for less than $100 a day.

Read more: I’m a budget cruiser. Here are 8 easy strategies I used on my recent Royal Caribbean cruise to save money

2. There are too many options

It’s true that choosing a cruise line and ship can be overwhelming. 

Without the help of a travel agent, I may not have been able to decide on one particular cruise, especially as a first-time cruiser. 

But you can always start with online research as well. We have several posts on planning your cruise, including how to start and choose a cruise ship.

Now that I’ve experienced my first cruise, I suggest starting your cruise plans with a certain destination. Choose what part of the world you would like to sail to, and then examine your budget. Make sure you find a ship that fits your pricing needs.

After that, you can focus on the particular ship and activities available. Some people look for specific slides, shows, or speciality restaurants when choosing their ship.

In general, you can set your own criteria, then you can see what’s available within those criteria and choose from those options.

3. I’m afraid of the ocean

Deep water makes me nervous, so the idea of cruising was formidable at first. 

Nightmarish news stories seem to pop up daily in the cruising world, whether it’s people falling overboard, getting sick, or losing their way at port.

In general, sailing out into the vast ocean can be quite nerve-wracking. 

But cruising is very safe when you stick to ship protocol. Cruise ships are prepared with safety drills, onboard medical professionals, lifeguards, and emergency lifeboats.

Rather than ocean safety, seasickness would be a genuine concern. But this can also be minimized by taking medication, gazing at the horizon, and staying in the middle of the ship.

Even as someone who experienced seasickness, I could power through it and found that the vacation was worth it.

Also, if you are scared of the ocean, cruising can be a fun way to overpower that fear! 

I enjoyed gazing at the sea in the mornings, experiencing beautiful new beaches, and swimming in pools, knowing we were perfectly safe.

4. Time in ports is limited

If you’re like me, you may prefer longer international travel where you can fully immerse yourself in a destination and explore it to the fullest. Cruise itineraries don’t usually allow for this slow-paced cultural immersion. 

On my first cruise, we visited multiple ports of call—Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten, and purchased Royal Caribbean shore excursions on St. Thomas and St. Maarten.

While I enjoyed seeing multiple places on one cruise, it’s true that the short stop did not allow us enough time to get out of the tourist traps and see more authentic parts of the islands. 

In fact, while we relaxed at Magens Bay in St. Thomas, a lifeguard told us that it was not nearly the best beach St. Thomas had to offer, just the most commonly known among tourists. 

Cruising port visits and excursions may not provide the authentic cultural experiences some travelers prefer.

Read more: Your really dumb cruise ship shore excursion questions answered

5. It’s not for my age group

A common misconception about cruising is that only old, retired folks go on cruises. 

Many people believe that cruises take much more time and money than other forms of travel. 

In that case, it would make sense that only those who are retired and have money saved up could afford to go on a cruise vacation.

On my cruise, I learned about seniors who choose to cruise instead of living in an assisted living facility. This choice is a cheaper option that allows more independence for senior citizens.

However, this group was not the majority. I was also surprised by the amount of couples, younger friend groups, and families with children of all ages on my cruise. I saw people from every age group on my cruise, from retirees to young adults.

I could also tell that the Royal Caribbean ship had tried to include activities for people of all ages: child-sitting services, kids club, teen group, and the Hyperlink young adults group.

Personally, as a young person in my twenties, I enjoyed the Hyperlink meet-ups, spending time at the nightclub, and relaxing by the pool. I'm not ashamed to say I loved the laser tag, too! 

6. There won’t be any people of color

Another common misconception is that only white people go on cruise vacations. 

Although luxury sailing has long been associated with rich Caucasian communities, cruising has become popular among many other groups. 

African Americans, in particular, are increasingly rating cruises as a preferred form of vacation.

It was to my pleasant surprise when I realized that my prior misconception about the demographics of cruisers was one of the most false things I believed before my cruise. 

Once we got onboard, I saw much more diversity than I expected.

This diversity was not just limited to crew members—who hailed from all over the world, a majority from Southeast Asia—but expanded to passengers and the people we met at ports of call.

The passengers I saw onboard were made up of every race, and many were from international locations.

For example, I met many Black people from all over the diaspora, from Trinidad and Tobago to the U.K.

7. I might get sick 

Woman taking covid test

Illnesses can indeed spread quickly in the close quarters of a cruise ship.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have become much more aware of the potential for disease or infection in certain locations. 

However, whether you’re cruising or not, travel of any kind runs the risk of contracting a disease, especially between different cities or countries. 

Although this is just a personal anecdote, I can share that I did not contract any sicknesses from my first cruise or see anyone sick. 

In case of any emergency, I also felt assured knowing there were medical professionals onboard the ship.

However, those who are immunocompromised or concerned about potential illness might want to avoid cruising. 

Read more: What happened when I tested positive for Covid on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

8. It would take too long

Due to the history of sailing, many people associate cruising with long, excruciating days of travel on the wide sea. 

Many first-time cruisers are concerned they will get bored on the ship while waiting to dock at port. 

Personally, I did take a slightly longer cruise at 7 nights, but we only had 8 full days of travel in total. 

Considering that this was an international trip, we visited 3 separate islands in addition to our port in Cape Canaveral, Florida, which is remarkably quick.

Additionally, we didn’t suffer from jet lag or face any major time differences. 

If you have time for a more extended vacation, I recommend a cruise for the value: you’ll be able to experience many different ports, shows, and activities within that timeline. 

And even if you don’t have a longer vacation planned, plenty of shorter cruisers are available, such as 3-day trips that sail Friday through Sunday.

9. I don’t like big crowds 

If you have social anxiety or an aversion to large crowds, a cruise vacation may not be the spot for you. 

Depending on your cruise's date, size, and popularity, the ship can be pretty crowded. 

My Wonder of the Seas ship, currently the largest cruise ship in the world, accommodates up to 6,988 passengers and 2,300 crew members. 

Although the ship itself was expansive, with lots of space to explore, it makes sense that the cruise would feel pretty full.

As someone who doesn’t like large crowds, I appreciated that there were many places to go, some with a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. 

But I can confirm that there were people everywhere. You would be hard-pressed to find a place to be completely alone. 

And—a warning for the introverts out there—most events did take a lot of social energy, whether they were main dining dinners, shore excursions, or trivia game nights. 

Additionally, there was noise and music in almost every location: a cruise feels like a constant celebration, and it’s hard to escape.

10. I don’t have anyone to take with me

Shore excursion

Who should you cruise with?

If you’re single or far from family, it can be challenging to figure out who to take on your cruise, and many people (understandably) have an aversion to traveling alone. 

Don't be afraid if you’re still concerned about convincing someone to go with you. 

Personally, I took my younger sister with me, and we had a blast! 

Cruising with another person can be much different than a land vacation: cruising provides much more independence while ensuring you both are safe in the same space.

For my sister and I, we enjoyed time together in our cabin, on shore excursions, and at the same activities we enjoyed. 

If we had been on a land vacation, my sister and I might have been worried about the safety of separating and spending time apart.

However, on one private ship with security and staff everywhere, we felt comfortable separating and doing the activities we liked most. Some days, I could spend time at the pool while she slept in. Other times, we felt like eating separately, and neither of us had any problems eating alone. 

A cruise vacation gave us much more freedom to enjoy time together but also to be alone without feeling unsafe. 

7 surprising things I learned when booking a cruise for the first time

07 Sep 2023

Booking my first cruise ever opened my eyes to a few lessons I never would have known before trying Royal Caribbean.

Calista booking Wonder of the Seas

Last month, I booked my first cruise on Wonder of the Seas. The 7-day sailing traveled from Port Canaveral, Florida, to Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.

There was lots to do to prepare. In addition to packing and planning my travel, I had to actually book the cruise, check-in online, and plan my onboard events

Although there was a lot to do, planning wasn’t impossible. I had plenty of help from our travel agent, and the Royal Caribbean app and website was easily accessible.

However, booking and preparing for my cruise was still a longer learning process. I made sure to do research as I went along, to save money and get the best experience possible.

Read more: Top things you didn't know travel agents can do for your cruise vacation

Here are the 7 most surprising things I learned when booking my first cruise.

1. Many features are included in the fare

MDR Selfie

As expected, the base fare was expensive: we paid $2,674.76 for myself and my sister, totaling about $382 per night. 

But as I began planning ahead for the cruise, I was surprised to learn how much was included in this base fare. 

This fare includes meals in the Windjammer, the main dining room, the Solarium bistro, room service like continental breakfast, and grab-and-go spots like Sorrento’s Pizza, Park Cafe, and Cafe Promenade. 

Some of my favorite meals were ones included in the fare, like the Windjammer's beef stew and cheesecake at the main dining room.

As a coffee lover, I was also satisfied with the complimentary coffee options. 

The fare also includes access to accommodations, entertainment shows, the fitness center and jogging track, pools, sun decks, and hot tubs.

Gratuity will also be prepaid in your base fare, so tipping is not expected while onboard. 

2. You can book a guarantee stateroom

During the booking process, I learned that you can choose a guarantee stateroom to save money. This means that you give up your choice of a specific room, and are assigned one for a lower price.

We ended up getting assigned a windowless inside cabin at the very front of the ship, and I later learned why it was a less desirable location. The cabin turned out to be quite noisy, and I suffered seasickness from all of the movement at the front.

However, my sister and I both sleep soundly and were active enough to be out of the cabin most of the day, so saving money was worth it in the end.

3. It’s important to arrive at your port a day early

When I started booking and preparing for my cruise, I learned that it’s recommended to arrive at your port the day before you board the ship.

This was a surprise, as I had to push up my travel plans one day. Since the cruise left on a Sunday, we decided to get into Port Canaveral on Saturday afternoon.

For Saturday night, we booked a hotel room near the port and were able to take a shuttle straight to the ship in the morning. It definitely made the process smoother and stress-free. 

And who doesn’t appreciate an extra night in a good hotel?

The only downside with this extra day of travel was that it made our cruise feel extra long. 

Read more: The costly cruising mistake newbies make planning their first cruise

Instead of just a 7-day cruise, we had about 8 full days of travel. And by the end, I was ready to be home in my own bed.

4. A passport isn’t required

I frequently travel internationally, so I had my passport ready to go, and it did make the process a bit smoother. However, my sister didn’t bring a passport, only her birth certificate, and she didn’t run into any problems.

Departure day was the only time we felt a difference: I simply got off the ship and had my photo taken, while she had to stand in a line to get her birth certificate checked. 

As far as international travel goes, I was surprised at how little we had to prepare beforehand. No visas, passports, or customs forms were required. 

5. Shore excursions are offered through the cruise line

Shore excursion

As someone unfamiliar with the booking process, it was a pleasant surprise to see that you can easily find shore excursions through the Royal Caribbean app or website and book them ahead of time.

I was able to scroll through a list of options for our days on St. Thomas and St. Maarten, add the ones I wanted to my cart, and pay right away.

For our first shore excursions on St. Thomas, we met the staff at the Royal Theater on-ship and were guided down the gangway. 

At the start of the excursion, our group got onto a truck-like taxi with a tour guide. After driving around the island, we stopped at Magen’s Bay, where we enjoyed the beach for a few hours on our own.

Afterward, we got back in the taxi and stayed with the guides until the end of the excursion. 

On our second shore excursion on St. Maarten, we met staff on the dock just outside the ship, where we were guided to bicycles for our bike tour of St. Philipsburg. 

We also stayed close to our guides until the tour was over, and we were able to do some shopping on our way back to the ship.

For each tour, we had a lovely experience and felt assured that no one would be left behind on shore.

6. Porters carry your larger luggage on and off the ship


Much like an airplane, you can pack a large suitcase and a smaller carry-on bag for your cruise. 

I also learned that your larger suitcase can be carried on and off the ship for you, so that you don’t have to lug it around with you during the boarding process.

Before the trip, I made sure to print out the provided luggage tags for our suitcases and staple them on.

On embarkation day, my sister and I took a shuttle from our hotel to the port. Once we arrived, porters took our larger suitcases and loaded them onto carts. We took our carry-ons onto the ship at around noon and proceeded to explore. 

I noticed that Royal Caribbean advises you to pack any medicine or essential items in your carry-on. While I didn’t take that advice, I later found myself wishing that I did, as our luggage wasn’t delivered to the room until about 4:00 p.m. 

When it was time to depart, I was able to select my departure preferences on the app and I opted for “luggage assistance.” 

Luggage tags were delivered to our room on day 6 (the next-to-last-day), and that was when I learned that our bags needed to be outside our stateroom by 10:00 p.m. that night.

Thankfully, we came back to the cabin after dinner and spent some time packing up our bags and leaving them outside our door so they could be taken off the ship. 

On the last day, we exited the ship, went through customs, and found our bags at the provided station number. Other than the longer times we spent without our bags, it was an easier process than I expected.

Read more: 6 tips to help keep a cruise line from losing your luggage

7. Reserve specialty restaurants ahead of time

We purchased the 3-night specialty dining package for our cruise. Our first day onboard, we decided to go in person to Izumi Hibachi to make our reservations for the 3 dinners.

At the time, we were waitlisted for Izumi Hibachi, and able to make reservations at Wonderland and Mason Jar. 

Although we later got a call that there was a cancellation for Izumi, and we could have dinner there, we received a $35 upcharge for our reservation.

In the future, I would definitely attempt to reserve specialty dining ahead of time on the app or website, to avoid any waitlists or upcharges. I know now that the restaurants fill up fast, especially Izumi Hibachi!

Read more: First time cruisers: When can I prebook entertainment, dining and more for my Royal Caribbean cruise?

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