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Why some people hate hiding ducks on a cruise ship fad

08 Apr 2024

In recent years, a particular trend has emerged within the cruising community: the practice of hiding ducks. Though a seemingly harmless game of hide-and-seek sea, the phenomenon has received its fair share of hate. 

Photo by Ken Jarvis

According to Cruising Ducks, the tradition was supposedly started by an 11-year-old on a cruise sailing out of Galveston. Abby Davis asked her mother if they could purchase rubber ducks for their sailing. 

Throughout their 7-night cruise, they hid seven ducks per day for other passengers to find. Supposedly, they hid a duck on the BlueIguana sign onboard their Carnival ship, and it wasn't found for three days! 

Critics of the activity argue that they contribute to the spreading of germs, as well as detract from the refined experience many passengers expect onboard a cruise ship. Nobody wants to see a duck that was accidentally knocked over into food in the buffet. 

Photo posted by WAYNO on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

One comment on a Cruise Radio Facebook post went as far as stating that hiding ducks contributes to the "dumbing down of America," with others advocating for a "cruise duck assassin club." There's even a Facebook group dedicated to the ducks' demise, "Cruising Ducks-Death Squad," though it's not as popular as those in favor of hiding ducks. 

A separate post in a Virgin Voyages group asks for those sailing on the adult-only line to leave the ducks at home, as it's a "childish hobby." 

There are plenty of environmental concerns, too. Those against the hiding of ducks have circulated rumors that any found by crew members and guests are often thrown overboard into the sea. John Heald, Carnival Cruise Line's Brand Ambassador, took to Facebook to clear up the issue.

Photo posted by Neesa on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

"This is completely untrue," he wrote, "Let me say this, if any crew member throws anything overboard, they would be in serious trouble and would for sure face disciplinary action....many of the crew love finding the ducks and have them in their cabins, as they bring them cheer." 

Other cruisers have reported seeing ducks in the trash, citing that participating is wasteful. 

Despite the controversy, duck-hiding lovers claim that it adds an element of fun and fosters a sense of community by connecting passengers from around the world

Photo posted by asquared17 on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

Even with all of the negativity surrounding hiding ducks on cruise ships, it remains a popular tradition. Today, the original Facebook group has over 258,000 members, and you'll find countless Reddit forums dedicated to discussing and sharing duck-related experiences. 

Guests can search for line-specific groups as well. "Carnival Cruising Ducks" has over 66,000 members, whereas "Royal Caribbean Cruising Ducks," has around 51,000. 

Oftentimes, those who want to participate will customize the ducks in some way. You may, for instance, find a duck with an informational sheet indicating the duck's origin, like New York City or Orlando. 

Photo posted by tiny260 on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

Imagine discovering a duck from England when you live in the United States! You can choose to re-hide it or keep it as a souvenir; however, make sure that you don't throw it in the trash. If you don't want it, leave it for someone else to find!

Should you decide to keep the duck, look to see if there are any instructions on the tag, if applicable, as to where the hider wants it to be shared. Guests often like to figure out where their duck is traveling to! It makes the experience more memorable for everyone. 

Those cruising around a holiday, such as Valentine's Day, Halloween, or Christmas, may find themed ducks during their voyage, too. 

If you plan on hiding decks on your next cruise, make sure that you're respectful of the ship's rules and regulations

Photo posted by RWDW1204 on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

Though you want to hide ducks in public areas, as nobody will find a duck stashed away in your stateroom, there are some guidelines to be mindful of. 

A general consensus amongst duck hiders is that the ducks shouldn't be hidden near food. Rather than leave one near food in the Windjammer, consider placing it in a commonplace location, such as a stairwell, where it won't be seen as an inconvenience to other passengers.

You'll also want to avoid placing ducks in the pools and hot tubs, as young children may endanger themselves by reaching for them and falling in. Shops with merchandise available for purchase are off-limits, too. You don't want anyone to get in trouble because it looked like they were shoplifting!

Photo posted by foulmouthedleon on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

While indoor railings, such as those in the stairwell, are okay, don't place ducks somewhere they could fall overboard. Royal Caribbean forbids guests from throwing things over the side of the ship; you don't want to get caught breaking this rule

When hunting, you'll want to ensure you're acting respectfully, too. Avoid running and destroying cruise ship property. Those who are too rowdy may accidentally injure themselves or another passenger. 

If you're sailing on an Oasis or Icon Class ship, be cautious of placing ducks in Central Park, as children may see it as an opportunity to crawl through the greenery. The horticulturists work hard to maintain all the plants onboard, and hiding ducks in them can inadvertently damage them. 

Ducks can be purchased on Amazon for less than $15

Photo posted by asquared17 on Royal Caribbean Blog's discussion forum

Looking forward to your summer cruise? Instead of bringing standard yellow ducks, spice up your experience by purchasing pirate-themed ducks. You can even find some that are patriotic if you happen to be sailing over the Fourth of July

Families sailing together over the holidays can get Christmas or Hanukkah ducks to spread festive cheer, while those cruising in October can embrace the spirit of Halloween with some spooky-themed ducks

Please note that we have linked Amazon items above, which contain affiliate links. The affiliate link costs you nothing extra, but Royal Caribbean Blog will make a small commission if you purchase the item through the link.

Internet can't decide if this cruise ship passenger is genius or dumb

19 Mar 2024

Would you ever consider pulling your cruise ship cabin's mattress out to the balcony for some elevated relaxation?

Balcony Cover

A recent post on social media shows two Royal Caribbean guests lying on a mattress while enjoying their balcony. Supposedly, the guests were onboard Allure of the Seas while docked in Perfect Day at CocoCay when they decided to move their cabin’s mattresses out to their balcony for some light reading.

In the photo, two guests can be seen on their mattresses reading books with their balcony door open. The photo was apparently taken while Allure of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas were both docked at Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, on March 13.

The original photo was shared by one cruiser to the Facebook group called Royal Caribbean Cruises. She captioned the post, “Omg really? Wondering if this guy got in trouble? Allure of the Seas looking from Anthem on 3/13 docked @ Coco Cay.”

As expected, the post garnered a massive response from Royal Caribbean fans and cruisers alike. However, many were torn about the concept of moving cabin furniture out to their balcony. While some considered this a genius idea, others were totally against the concept and found it dumb. 

Some users responded that they have also moved cabin furniture out to their balcony

Apparently, moving cruise cabin furniture out to your balcony is becoming more popular among cruisers. Multiple commenters responded to the controversial post by sharing experiences of doing this exact scenario. 

“I pulled the couch cushions out onto the balcony on Harmony of the Seas. It was great,” commented the cruiser. In the photo below, this Royal Caribbean guest can be seen lying on the couch cushions from their cabin with the ocean in the background. 

Along with this guest, another cruiser commented on their own personal experience of actually sleeping on their balcony by moving cabin furniture. “I did this on Symphony of the Seas. Best sleep I ever had. Fell asleep looking at the stars listening to the waves, woke up to the sun rising over CocoCay,” said the commenter.

It should be noted that Royal Caribbean does not have any implicit rules listed regarding this type of behavior. The cruise line does not provide rules regarding how to use cabin furniture, although this latest trend could possibly prompt Royal Caribbean to implement new rules.

"Pretty crappy thing to do, in my opinion"

Ocean view balcony

Of course, the post was not well received by everyone and many were totally against the idea for a multitude of reasons. Most opponents felt as though moving the mattress out to the balcony was a hazard to cleanliness.

“Nah, this is weird. Other people now have to sleep on that mattress that was sitting on an exterior floor. I get those mattresses aren’t the cleanest to begin with, but this is unnecessary. So many people lack self awareness, it’s crazy. There are chairs out there for a reason,” stated one of the top comments.

One follower agreed by commenting, “This is why we can’t have nice things. Like comfortable mattresses.”

In agreement, one cruiser said, “Yeah, I don’t think I want to sleep on a mattress that was sitting on an exterior floor. No harm? To each their own, I guess.”

Serenade of the Seas balcony

Along with cleanliness, others commented about the potential long-term impacts of having cabin furniture exposed to the elements by being placed on balconies. For example, some commenters fear that mattresses on balconies could grow black mold from being exposed to moisture.

In addition, others pointed out that balconies are often misty with moisture in the evenings from the sea, even when it doesn’t rain. “The next guests are going to love the humidity and sea air in their mattress," said one responder. 

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

However, many social media users found this to be a genius idea

While the idea did not resonate with everyone, others were inspired by the concept of bringing their mattresses to their balconies, stating how comfortable and cozy it looked. Some responders even shared how they were inspired by the idea of moving cabin furniture to their balcony and will be considering the same idea during their next cruise.

“Nothing wrong with that, good idea if you ask me,” responded another user. Another social media user shared, "What a great idea! I will be doing this on my next cruise.”

One person in the comments said how the guests looked to just be relaxing and enjoying the beautiful day reading their books. Another commenter said in agreement, “Looks comfy cozy to me." 

Finally, one cruiser expanded, “Great idea! Maybe plan for a makeshift curtain or something if you have a balcony just in case.” There was also one comment that suggested bringing your own air mattress if you want to sleep on your balcony, so as to not use cabin furniture.

Read more: 9 ways to sleep better on a cruise ship

This isn’t the first time the idea has been shared on social media

(Photo of a guest sleeping on a twin bed, placed on a balcony. Shared from a Reddit under the r/Cruise thread.)

The idea of moving your cruise cabin mattress to your balcony is not a new concept, as TikTok users have been sharing their experiences on social media for a while now.

One user, Sarah Goodwin, shared footage of her moving her cruise cabin mattress to her balcony on TikTok for her followers. She captioned the TikTok, “Next time you go on a cruise, put your bed on the balcony, you won’t regret it. Trust me.”

In the TikTok, you can see her dragging her mattress from the cabin out to the balcony. The viral TikTok, which was posted last year, has nearly 2 million views with 600 comments.

In the video, she lays down the mattress and begins to read her book with the ocean in the background. For clarification, the user commented that she did not do this for sleeping in the evening and she only moved the bed to the balcony for an afternoon. 

One commenter asked, “How did you get it out the door? I struggle to keep it open long enough to avoid getting smacked in the face.” The original creator responded, “With great difficulties!”

Many of the commenters were actually in agreement with the concept, noting how utterly relaxing this could be for people on vacation. However, most agreed that this could only be done for an afternoon and guests shouldn’t be sleeping on their mattresses while out on the balcony.

Royal Caribbean's Best Moments of 2023

27 Dec 2023

From major announcements like the new Hideaway Beach at Perfect Day at CocoCay and the second Icon Class ship, Star of the Seas, to the delivery and completion of the world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, 2023 was a big year for Royal Caribbean.

Best of 2023 Royal Caribbean Moments

As we close out the year, it’s fun to look back and remember all the monumental things that happened in the Royal Caribbean cruising world.

Let’s recap the other big moments from 2023.

1. Symphony of the Seas record

Symphony of the Seas

One of Royal Caribbean’s largest ships, Symphony of the Seas, set a record in March 2023.

During a twelve-night transatlantic cruise from Miami, Florida to Barcelona, Spain, the largest number of paying cruisers and crew to sail across the Atlantic Ocean on a single ship was recorded. A total of 7,604 passengers were onboard the Symphony of the Seas sailing, including 5,350 guests and 2,224 crew members.

This particular sailing was not at full capacity, however. Symphony of the Seas can hold 6,680 guests.

It’s important to note that this is not an all-time record. Queen Mary carried 16,683 people across the Atlantic in July 1943 during World War II.

2. Icon of the Seas sea trials


In June and the end of October/early November 2023, Icon of the Seas completed her first and second rounds of sea trials at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland.

Before delivering a new cruise ship, there must be a series of sea trials where the ship sails hundreds of miles before making the transatlantic trip to America. Essentially, sea trials are tests of the ship’s navigational and technical systems. Icon of the Seas passed all tests with flying colors!

This is the final stage of a cruise ship’s construction before delivery to the cruise line.

3. President's Cruise on Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean regularly offers a President’s Cruise, hosted by Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, for loyal fans of the cruise line to sail together. On these particular cruises, there are exclusive events and special guests as well.

2023’s President's Cruise took place in July on Allure of the Seas, sailing in and out of Galveston. This was the first President's Cruise that left from Texas. 


Grammy-winner Chaka Khan performed during the seven-night sailing!

In June 2024, the President’s Cruise will be on Oasis of the Seas, sailing to the Mediterranean for seven nights.

Read more: Royal Caribbean: Building a new smaller cruise ship is "deeply in our consideration"

4. Hideaway Beach announcement

Hideout cabanas

Royal Caribbean released details of the new adults-only area at Perfect Day at CocoCay, called Hideaway Beach, on September 14, 2023.

Hideaway Beach will be located behind Thrill Waterpark. Only those 18 and older will be allowed to enter. The cost of admission will vary, similar to Coco Beach Club.

While Coco Beach Club is more serene and relaxing, Hideaway Beach will offer a “Vegas-style pool party vibe.” There will be poolside cabanas for rent, an infinity pool, and beach access, as well as numerous bars and restaurants.

Hideaway Beach Club render

Hideaway Beach will open in conjunction with Icon of the Seas’ inaugural sailing at the end of January 2024. 

5. Utopia of the Seas float out

Utopia of the Seas floated out

Icon of the Seas has a lot of hype surrounding her, but don’t forget about the new Oasis Class ship, Utopia of the Seas!

In September 2023, Utopia of the Seas touched water for the first time at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France.

Utopia of the Seas floated out

This is an important step in the cruise ship construction process. This is one of the first steps in the building journey; after the new ship is assembled in a dry dock, it is transferred to a “wet dock” to complete more work.

Utopia of the Seas will be launched in July 2024 and offer three and four-night Caribbean sailings out of Port Canaveral.

Read more: Utopia of the Seas: Itinerary, features, and more

6. Star of the Seas announcement

Star of the Seas concept art

On October 5, 2023, Royal Caribbean announced the name of the next Icon Class cruise ship: Star of the Seas.

Star of the Seas will homeport in Port Canaveral and look very similar to Icon of the Seas. She will offer seven-night sailings to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

Icon of the Seas is the first Icon Class ship, and when Star of the Seas launches in August 2025, she will be the second. There are also orders for a third unnamed Icon Class ship to be delivered in 2026.

Read more: Star of the Seas: Itinerary, features and more

7. Icon of the Seas completed and delivered

Icon of the Seas delivery

November 27, 2023, was a big day for Icon of the Seas! On this day, she was officially delivered, meaning ownership was transferred to Royal Caribbean.

There was a large ceremony onboard where executives from Royal Caribbean celebrated the milestone. Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, and Meyer Turku CEO Tim Meyer were all in attendance.

Delivery photo for Icon of the Seas

After 900 days of construction, Icon of the Seas was ready to make her transatlantic voyage to her home in Miami.

8. Icon of the Seas passes under the Great Belt Bridge


After Icon of the Seas was delivered, she had to go to Cadiz, Spain to receive some final touches.

Before arriving in Cadiz, Icon of the Seas passed under Denmark’s Great Belt Bridge, one of the largest bridges in the world, with just a few feet to spare. Icon’s funnels had to be retracted so she could fit under the bridge. For context, Icon of the Seas is 20 decks high.


This technology is not new, as other Oasis and Quantum Class ships have retractable funnels too.

Currently, Icon of the Seas is still en route to Miami. 

9. Start of the Ultimate World Cruise

Serenade of the Seas in Venice

Back in 2021, it was announced that Royal Caribbean would offer its first world cruise in 2023, visiting 150 destinations in 65 countries.

On December 10, 2023, it finally happened! Serenade of the Seas arrived in Miami to kick-start the 274-night Ultimate World Cruise that will take travelers to all seven continents. The cruise ends on September 10, 2024.

World cruise map

Bookings opened in early 2022. Passengers could book either the entire voyage or one of four 2-3 month segments. Because the Ultimate World Cruise did not sell out, Royal Caribbean released 17 segments in April 2023, ranging from nine to 29 nights.

Read more: Why the internet is obsessed with 9-month world cruise on Royal Caribbean cruise ship

10. Lionel Messi named an "Icon"

Lionel Messi is the godmother of icon

On December 13, 2023, Lionel Messi, a well-known soccer player, was named “The Icon of Icon.”

Similar to what a cruise ship Godmother would do, Messi will participate in the naming ceremony for Icon of the Seas on January 23, 2024. As “The Icon of Icon,” Messi will give Icon of the Seas a blessing for the safety of the crew members and passengers who will sail onboard.

This partnership comes as no surprise since Royal Caribbean announced a partnership with Inter Miami CF, which is the club Messi plays for, back in August 2023.

What was your favorite Royal Caribbean moment of 2023?

Ships docked at CocoCay

We want to hear from you!

In collaboration with Loyal to Royal, let us know your favorite moment by voting using this Google Form. Voting closes the night of December 30, 2023, so be sure to cast your vote before then.

Stay tuned for results on our Instagram page!

Comparing Titanic vs biggest cruise ship in the world

20 Nov 2023

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas will be the world's biggest cruise ship in the world when she launches, so how does it compare to the most well-known ship of all time?

Icon of the Seas vs Titanic

The Titanic is arguably the most well-known ocean liner because of its famous accident in 1912. Her sinking has never been eclipsed in the public imagination, despite decades of larger and safe cruise ships.

Nonetheless, if you mention cruise ships to someone who is new to cruising, inevitably the Titanic references usually follow. So if your baseline for understanding what a cruise ship is is based on a vessel that sailed over 100 years ago, here is a look at how much different big ships are now.

Meet Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas render at sea

At about five times the size of Titanic, the world's largest cruise ship is Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas.

Spanning 20 decks, Icon is the first in the Icon Class to be launched. A second ship, Star of the Seas, will launch in 2025 and likely take the title of biggest in the world.

Size is everything with Icon, as she is 1,198 feet long. If you were to stand her up, Icon's almost as tall as the Empire State Building (1,250 feet without any antennas).

Introducing Icon of the Seas

There are 7 pools and 9 whirlpools on Icon of the Seas for guests to use, along with an entire water park. 

You will find 1,815 staterooms, including 179 suites.

Read moreIcon of the Seas sneak peek

How big was the Titanic?


Titanic was a large ship for its era, coming in at 882 feet 9 inches long and encompassing 9 decks.

  • Beam: 92 feet 6 inches
  • Height: 175 feet
  • Weight: 46,328 gross tons

Titanic was the largest ship built up to that point in time.

Comparing Icon of the Seas to Titanic


Not only is Icon of the Seas larger than Titanic, but many of Royal Caribbean's other cruise large cruise ships are larger than the Titanic in gross tonnage, as well as size.

The Titanic measured in at 882 feet and 9 inches long, and weighed 46,328 gross tons.

Icon of the Seas measures 1,198 feet in length and has a gross tonnage of 250,800.

Titanic in Southampton

In terms of gross tonnage, Titanic doesn't even make the list the top 64 world's largest cruise ships by gross tonnage.

Ditto for length; Among the top 64 largest cruise ships in the world today, the "shortest" ship comes in at 984.1 ft with the AIDAprima and AIDAperla.

Titanic was built at an estimated cost of $7.5 million in 1912, which in today's dollars would cost approximately $400 million.

Icon vs Titanic infographic

Icon of the Seas cost $2 billion to construct.

Titanic could handle 2,453 passengers, while Icon of the Seas has a capacity of 7,600 passengers at maximum occupancy.

First Class lounge

In terms of things to do on each ship, Titanic offered a heated pool, gym, squash court, and Turkish bath.

Icon of the Seas has seven pools, an entire water park, new areas dedicated to families, revamped pool decks, diving shows, dining experiences, and many more attractions.

In the evening, Titanic would feature smoking rooms, billiards, music, and dancing.

On Icon of the Seas, you can enjoy full-scale shows across four distinct venues, and more live music and comedy than ever before. Fifty live musicians and comedians will entertain guests in venues across the ship.

How much is a ticket on Titanic vs. Icon of the Seas?


Any cruise fan knows that there is no standard price for a cruise.  Cruise fares vary from ship to ship and even sailing to sailing.

Prices start at over $1,500 per person for a 7-night cruise on Icon of the Seas, and can go as high as high as $80,000 for one week in the sprawling townhouse cabin that is 1,772 square feet in size and three decks high and sleeps up to eight people.

The prices of tickets on the Titanic in 1912 ranged from £30 (equivalent to £3,000 in 2019) and £870 (equivalent to  £100,027.45 in 2021) for a parlour suite and small private promenade deck in first class, to £8 for a third-class adult fares and £3 for children. That's roughly equal to between $100,000 to $345 in today's prices.

Titanic ticket

Unlike modern cruise ships, Titanic had different classes of fares. First, second, and third class, which were distinguished by social status and ticket cost.

First class was for the wealthiest and most prominent passengers.  These were upper class people, who had careers in business, politics, the military, or industry. These were the well-to-do and most well-known people sailing.

Second Class was essentially the middle class people, which might include tourists, members of the clergy, and educators.

Third class (sometimes known as steerage) was mostly made up of immigrants moving to North America. 

Suite Sun Deck render on Icon of the Seas

A ship like Icon of the Seas may not have classes of fares, but they do have different benefits for guests that book the higher tier suites.

The Royal Suite Class cabins aren't as exclusionary as the fare class system, but they do offer separate areas of the ship for those that book it.

Read more: Royal Caribbean suites guide

This includes restaurants, bars, and pool decks exclusively for the use of suite guests.

How do these ships compare?

Hideaway concept art

In short, Icon of the Seas and Titanic don't have a ton in common besides being ocean going vessels. Today's cruise ships are very different than ocean liners, like Titanic.

Read moreWhat's different about a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and the last ocean liner?

What many people who are new to cruise ships fail to understand is the fundamental shift leisure cruising underwent in the second half of the 20th century. Ocean liners and ferries evolved into the cruise ships that we know today.

Titanic grand staircase

Ocean liners were primarily used to bring passengers across the ocean from one point to another, whereas cruise ships go on pleasure voyages, closer to the coast, sailing between ports.

Read moreHow cruise ships got so big

Unfortunately, many cruise novices have Titanic as their only frame of reference when it comes to non-cargo ships, so it ends up being the defacto benchmark.

Not only are ships like Icon of the Seas immensely larger, the experience onboard is vastly different, with more to see, do, and eat than Titanic could have ever dreamed.

Weirdest things our readers have seen other people do on a cruise ship

24 Aug 2023

Have you ever witnessed a stranger doing something weird, even unexplainable?

Weird things on a cruise

People-watching is popular because it can be so rewarding: folks do the strangest things in public! Witnessing these moments reminds us of the unique unpredictability of human beings—and often leaves us feeling a little superior. 

Cruising is no different; cruisers often feel that a cruise brings out the most bizarre human behavior. And on a cruise, you’ll have the most downtime and proximity to observe all the activities around you.

We asked our readers on the Royal Caribbean Blog forum the weirdest thing they’ve seen another cruiser do. Based on the responses we received, they’ve witnessed it all— from family feuds to a ship captain turned biker.

Get ready for a good laugh as we introduce the top 10 weirdest things readers saw other cruisers do.


“Strangest thing I've seen on a Royal ship was a college-aged adult wearing a wild and elaborate Halloween costume walking around the ship normally but completely outside of the Halloween season. Must have lost a bet with his buddies. It was a double-take moment. Did I just see that?”

- Twangster

Royal Caribbean does not have a strict dress code, other than prohibiting bare feet in venues and tank tops from the main dining room or specialty dining venues. It’s always possible that you’ll see some strange costumes or attire!

If you do want to wear a costume without sticking out, Royal Caribbean holds various Halloween events on cruises that sail over the October 31st date, including Halloween decorations, photo opportunities, and a large costume parade. You can expect costumes to be worn everywhere on Halloween Day.

Centrum from Rhapsody of the Seas

“There was a couple on board with us a few years ago that danced in the Centrum every night. She was always in sparkly/sequined boots, either bunny or cat ears, and hot pants/short shorts with fish nets. He was always in cargo shorts or Demin shorts with a Hawaiian shirt, sometimes the sleeves were missing. Didn't matter the song, they were dancing and had some signature moves."

"They were definitely the stars of the show, whether they knew it or not."

"As we were waiting for our departure group to be called, two ladies were sitting behind us talking about "Sparkly Boots" and wondering if they had participated in 70's night. I turned around and said yes, they did. The lady asked me how I knew who she was talking about and I said the whole ship knew…”

- Kadmgs

If you’re wondering where you can see dancing stars like this fun couple, the Centrum is the large, open area spanning several decks that replaces the Royal Promenade or Esplanade on both Vision Class and Radiance Class ships. 

In addition to being the center of special events, the Centrum includes a main elevator, with bars, dining venues, and lounges overlooking its edge.

captain johnny's book the captain

“Another strange occurrence is seeing your cruise ship Captain riding a Harley around Labadee. Captain Johnny keeps his personal Harley on board the ship. I was on this sailing when he tweeted this. Saw him riding it around.”

- Twangster

Captain Johnny Faevelen is a well-known character to many Royal Caribbean cruisers, but did you know he brings his personal Harley-Davidson motorcycle on board? For those who witness him riding it, this is definitely an unusual sight. 

For more about Captain Johnny, check out his book, The Captain, which details how he went from a fisherman to captain of one of the world’s largest cruise ships.  

Read more: 5 Royal Caribbean inspirations to prepare for your cruise

Family at Windjammer

“If you were on an Alaskan cruise back in May 2016, and saw a tall, skinny teenage boy eat three plates heaped full of donuts for breakfast in the Windjammer (27 by his count)....yes, we did teach him to eat a decent meal. And no, we weren't eating with him. He finally fessed up long after the cruise.”

- barbeyg

Was this young man acting greedy, or just making the most of his paid fare? The Windjammer Cafe is the all-you-can-eat buffet included with your base fare, the complimentary dining venue with the widest variety of options. 

Your base fare also includes access to the main dining room, a grab-and-go coffee shop, and several quick food venues by the pool.

You will also have access to complimentary food at various venues on Perfect Day at Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas. 

“A guest busted for shoplifting.  Security searched the cabin, recovered the goods, and put them off at the next port to find their own way home.”  

- Twangster

Shoplifting is certainly included on the list of things that can get you kicked off a cruise ship immediately. And considering the ship is a confined space with security on board, it’s best to keep the law for at least the length of your vacation.  

Suite Sun Deck render on Icon of the Seas

“We were sitting in the hot tub around sundown and a gentleman proceeded to get in with a full plate of Windjammer food. Mostly I remember him trying to eat what I think was chicken wings and watching pieces of the food falling into the water around him. Needless to say, it was a clear sign that it was time for us to exit and go get ready for dinner. (I can promise you him eating in the hot tub did not trigger a hunger response!)”

- CruizIan

In addition to hot tubs onboard, Royal Caribbean ships also have a main pool and an adults-only, indoor Solarium pool. There are also several kid pools, splash pads, waterslides, and a 40-foot-long surf simulator, the FlowRider.

The pools are open most of the day, with many activities nearby, including live music!

“We had this one gentleman [who would] always wear different color pastel suits with a top hat EVERYDAY. We were doing a Med cruise and it was hot, yet I would see him in France with a baby pink suit and a matching top hat.”

- ClockingOut

You’re never required to dress up, especially in pastel-colored suits. Royal Caribbean’s dress code is mainly casual beach style, smart casual, and formal wear. You can wear beach or casual clothes for most of the day, and switch to a smarter casual in the evening. 

One formal (or dress your best) night will also be on the schedule during your vacation. On this night, you can expect for everyone to dress their best in elegant dresses and collared shirts and dress pants.

“An entire family had too many wines & decided to start fighting each other. Punches were thrown & security broke it up & sent them packing. The Chef felt so bad for the remaining few people that he sent servers to give us 3 free rounds of drinks. This was an epic chefs table experience.”

- Tonyfsu21

The Chef’s Table is an exclusive, private dining experience offered on Royal Caribbean ships to a limited number of guests, usually around 12. 

This experience includes a 5-course meal and wine tasting, with a personal waiter and chef decided to your table. Each serving of food also comes with a carefully selected wine pairing.

The Chef’s Table is an excellent and private experience, so remember not to start any fights if you try it out.

“It was a Christmas cruise and there was a couple in their late 30's to early 40's who wore Christmas pajama onesies all cruise long, day and night. They also had their own "custom" metal "Yeti" style cups and straws that they drank from. Rarely did we go to/through the Centrum and not see them there in their pajamas and drinking from their Yeti's. Needless to say, the Centrum was THE place to people-watch that cruise.”

- Kadmgs

We always recommend bringing a reusable water bottle for your time on board. In addition to a YETI cup, here are some other things worth bringing on a cruise: liquid soap, laundry hamper, luggage tag holders, shampoo and body wash, aspirin, chapstick, AirTags, noise-canceling headphones, air freshener, magnetic hooks, an e-reader, and a nightlight. 

It’s important to remember to bring the essentials because anything you purchase onboard will come at a much steeper price.

Read more: 100 item Ultimate Cruise Packing List

snow on board cruise ship

“We were on a Christmas and New Years cruise a few years ago out of Baltimore.....and on boarding day it was snowing.... This was the Grandeur of the Seas.”

- Rob&Ana

Yes, it does snow on cruise ships! While a strange sight, it wouldn’t be impossible to see snow onboard if you’re sailing through a cold, wintery area.

Royal Caribbean ships that sail from the Northeast of the United States, such as in Bayonne, New Jeresy and Baltimore, Maryland, may see snow as they board or disembark at these ports. But this sight is unlikely, and the snow will melt soon as the ship moves quickly south.

Does it matter how old your cruise ship is?

22 Feb 2023

It's no surprise that new cruise ships are exciting and in high demand.

Granduer of the Seas

Royal Caribbean seems to redefine "bigger and better" with the launch of each of their new cruise ships, as they constantly break their own record for largest cruise ship in the world. The demand for these ships is larger than ever before, too. All standard cabins for Icon of the Seas' maiden voyage sold out in less than 24 hours!

What about older ships, though? It is evident that Royal Caribbean wants to keep them around as long as possible. If they didn't, they would not have spent hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading ships through their Royal Amplified fleet modernization. 

Don Goldstein, a retired Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard, worked for the Coast Guard for about 30 years and was involved with the regulation and inspection of commercial vessels, including passenger and task vessels, and the ports that serve them.

He was also involved in cleaning oil spills in the marine environment, having completed over 20 discharged of 1 million gallons or more!

During Commander Goldstein's career, he was stationed on all 3 coasts of the United States: Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf. Additionally, he has represented the Coast Guard's business in North and South America, Europe, Africa, South East Asia, and the Far East.

In our conversation with Commander Goldstein, which has been edited for length and clarity, we talked about what a cruise ship's dry dock entails, today's environmental concerns, the life expectancy of modern day cruise ships, and what it takes to keep the older ships in service!

Today, there are cruise ships operating that are as much as 26 years old. How do cruise lines like Royal Caribbean ensure that they stay well-maintained?  

Commander Goldstein: Routine maintenance is an ongoing process, well-planned and supported. It is much more than periodic dry docks. Maintenance is done continually during the life of the ship. For instance, they can (and do) change out an entire piston on an engine while underway.

The maintenance is accomplished on a planned cycle for each system and happens every day in accordance with the plan. This includes changing filters, cleaning valves and piping, changing hydraulic fluids, testing emergency systems like emergency generators, testing backup steering systems, etc.

Dry docks are planned years in advance due to ordering necessary parts, having the right contractors present, etc. All hull openings are checked and the valves cleaned or replaced. All primary systems, including firefighting, navigation, and lifesaving are inspected or replaced.

Anchor chains and lifeboat cables may be “end-for-ended," and all lifeboat food and water are inspected and/or replaced. Other issues or concerns that have occurred may be dealt with, such as when Allure’s azipod need work.

Vision of the Seas docked in Alaska

How long is the life expectancy of new cruise ships? Take Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, for instance, which debuted in mid 2022. What do you think her life expectancy is with today's technological advancements?

Commander Goldstein: The life expectancy has increased over the years due to better materials, better design, and better maintenance. I would think Royal Caribbean expects to get at least 30 years of service out of any ship build in the last 15 years or so, including Wonder.

How does the life expectancy of today's ships compare to those from the early 2000s?  

Commander Goldstein: Every new ship probably has a longer life expectancy than the last one, but it is incremental. For ships built in the 1990s, I expect they wanted to get at least 25 years of service.

Voyager of the Seas in Barcelona

How do these older ships remain in service, and do they have to be serviced more frequently than newer ships? What goes into keeping older cruise ships alive and well?  

Commander Goldstein: All ships, old and new, go into dry dock twice in any five-year period, with no span longer than 36 months between dry docks. This is when they do major work on the engines, piping, life saving equipment, structure, etc.  Typically, the hull is at least inspected and cleaned, if not painted. Older ships may require more extensive work in the dry dock due to changes in technology, as well as normal wear and tear due to the ravages of the salt water environment.

Salt water and most metals don’t get along well. Just about everything on a ship will deteriorate over time, and require replacement or reconditioning. Newer coatings (i.e. pain) do a better job of protecting metal, but it’s still not perfect. Older ships have been exposed to this environment for a longer period of time and need more TLC. Since they do many things at one time while in dry dock, this does mean that older ships necessarily take longer.
What is the functional part of a ship that tends to wear out first?

Goldstein: That’s really hard to say due to the ongoing maintenance done throughout the life cycle of the ship.
Around what age does the ship's safety really come into question, or is it more about the cost of keeping it up-to-date?  

Goldstein: Again, due to the ongoing maintenance and inspection by both the Flag State and Port States, it is more a question of the cost of maintenance and if are they going to do keep paying for it.

What is the key indicator that a ship is ready to be retired and/or scrapped? 

Commander Goldstein: That is an easy answer: money and the cost of maintenance versus. the cost of the cabins and passenger loads. If one is willing to spend unlimited money, you can keep a ship running almost forever.

As was pointed out earlier by, I think, Michael Bayley, the older ships break even point is 50% of capacity, while the newer ships it is closer to 35%. He didn’t say word-for-word, but I suspect the introduction of azipod technology has a lot to do with this. Routine maintenance isn’t cheap, and there is a point where it is not economically feasible to maintain the ship.

At that point, they will typically sell the ship to a lower end cruise line, such as Sovereign of the Seas being transferred to Pullmantur in 2008 at the age of 20 years and renamed Sovereign. She was scrapped in 2020 after 32 years of service. Grandeur currently is Royal Caribbean's oldest ship at 27 years of service.

Engine issues seem to be common for older ships. I know Norwegian Star got theirs replaced in 2021, and Grandeur of the Seas' maximum cruising speed was slowed down in January 2023 due to engine troubles. In theory, could they go their whole lives and never have the engine replaced?

Commander Goldstein: Due to the ongoing maintenance, major engine problems are relative rare on cruise ships. The decision to change engines is not taken lightly.  These engines are HUGE, and they have to remove a section of the hull to remove and replace the major engines. In the case of the Norwegian Star, I’m sure a good part of the decision to replace the engines was based on efficiency. Grandeur reduced speed may have been at least partially the same thing.
With more and more ships turning to LNG, do you think this will impact the life of older ships? In other words, do you think they will be retired and/or scrapped earlier due to environmental concerns?

Commander Goldstein: LNG ships are more efficient than oil powered ships, but I think the bigger concern is the increased environmental awareness on the part of many littoral states and countries.  For instance, new international regulations are reducing ships’ speed as they approach many ports is an effort to reduce emissions from the ships.

I also think that the growing environmental regulations will cause older ships to be retired, or transferred to smaller cruise lines that go to more isolated ports. I live very close to Tampa, and I hope Royal Caribbean Group builds some newer and more efficient small ships that will fit under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, so they can continue to use Tampa as a home port (and places like Baltimore, too).


What is different about the process of how cruise ships are designed today compared to 30 years ago? I am sure that there's a lot more that must be taken into consideration!

Commander Goldstein: The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) set international standards for building and maintaining seagoing vessels. These standards are continually updated and modified to take into account new materials, technologies, and safety.  

Every casualty will produce new requirements. For instance, the Costa Concordia disaster in 2012, although due to human error, produced may new requirements, including the requirement to do the passenger safety briefing (muster drill) prior to the ship's departure.

Royal Caribbean ships by age

Grandeur of the Seas (1996)

Rhapsody of the Seas (1997)

Enchantment of the Seas (1997)

Vision of the Seas (1998)

Voyager of the Seas (1999)

Explorer of the Seas (2000)

Radiance of the Seas (2001)

Adventure of the Seas (2001)

Brilliance of the Seas (2002)

Navigator of the Seas (2002)

Serenade of the Seas (2003)


Mariner of the Seas (2003)

Jewel of the Seas (2004)

Freedom of the Seas (2006)

Liberty of the Seas (2007)

Independence of the Seas (2008)

Oasis of the Seas (2009)

Allure of the Seas (2010)

Harmony of the Seas (2016)

Symphony of the Seas (2018)

Wonder of the Seas (2022)

Wonder of the Seas in Port Canaveral

The craziest things we've seen on our Royal Caribbean cruises

06 Feb 2023

Unexpected things can always happen on a cruise, and although you can dream about the perfect vacation, you shouldn't always expect a cruise to go as smoothly as you hope.

Realistically, you might experience a few unpredictable mishaps during your cruise. Here at Royal Caribbean Blog, our staff has collectively cruised more than 200 times. Needless to say, we have experienced a few crazy things ourselves during our cruises.

From being kicked out of the Diamond Lounge for wearing shorts to watching pier runners sprint their way to the ship before all-aboard time, we’ve seen it all!

Below are some of our craziest stories from our very own Royal Caribbean Blog staff members.

A ship struck Mariner of the Seas

During a quick sailing on Mariner of the Seas last spring, Allie Hubers was onboard when it was struck by a cargo ship.

“On embarkation day," Allie mentioned, "we were notified that Mariner of the Seas needed to dock in Freeport for some routine maintenance, which would replace our sea day.

"After wandering around for a bit in Freeport, we went back to our inside cabin, which was located at the aft of the ship. Suddenly, we felt a big jolt and the ship swayed. My sister and I joked, ‘we must have hit an iceberg!’ to one another.

"The captain came on the speakers almost immediately to announce that a cargo ship docked next to us had 'bounced' into the ship. We ran to the back of the ship to see the cargo ship's bridge nearly crumpled. Crew members blocked off the area where Mariner sustained minor damage. The captain assured us that Mariner was seaworthy and that this would not impact our sailing.

"Essentially, it was so windy that when the cargo ship tried to dock, the wind pushed the ship into us. Their bridge bounced off Mariner's aft on deck 5, creating a pretty noticeable hole in the ship. We were lucky it wasn't worse. I would have been more terrified if we weren't docked at a port when it happened.

"Only a few people were interested in what happened, as the belly flop contest was happening at the time of the incident and the spring breakers were having too much fun to know what was going on!”

A new stateroom for the night

Sailing onboard the now-retired Monarch of the Seas, Marcy Miyar and her husband were desperate to get some sleep, so they tried to find somewhere to go in the middle of the night instead of their extremely noisy cabin.

“It was our first time in a Junior Suite on Monarch of the Seas," said Marcy. "Back then, the three-night cruises didn't depart Nassau until midnight. Because of this, the ship would have a sail away party on the pool deck, but it would last until 3 or 4 AM!

"The junior suites are directly below the pool deck, so we could hear everything like they were in the room with us. The DJ on the microphone, the music, people singing and laughing, deck chairs scraping along our ceiling... we could hear it all.

"We went down to Guest Services and asked if we could be moved to a lower-category room, but of course, the ship was full. We were like zombies walking around the ship with our pillows, looking for somewhere to get some sleep. Luckily, we stumbled upon an unlocked conference room on deck 2. That's where we spent the night. 

"Now, we always make sure to check what is on the deck above us when picking out a stateroom!”

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar

Symphony of the Seas docked at CocoCay

While cruising on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, Haley Harnish experienced a scary announcement: Code Oscar.

“Shortly after noon, we heard an Oscar Oscar Oscar call over the PA system," said Haley. "The Oscar code is for man overboard, so it is the absolute last one you want to hear. We had just been seated in Izumi for a sushi and sake pairing, and everybody around us was distressed. The staff did a wonderful job keeping the lunch flowing, even though I'm sure they were just as worried.

"We could feel the ship slow and stop, and about ten minutes later, she turned around and headed back south. The captain announced about midway through lunch that there was an overboard situation and the Coast Guard was involved. The running track on deck 5 was closed to guests so that rescue operations could be activated from that portion of the ship.

"The captain made another announcement around 1 PM, this time telling us that a guest had claimed a person was in the water. To account for everyone on the ship, all guests had to go to the dining room to scan their SeaPass cards. Crew members were to do the same.

"Luckily, my guest and I were first in line to be scanned. It was a fairly easy process, like getting off the ship for an excursion. Then we were directed through the dining room to an emergency door and out onto the running track, up a set of stairs, and onto the Boardwalk.

"The captain let us know just after 3 PM that all crew and guests were accounted for. We had to wait about 30 minutes more to be cleared by the Coast Guard, as they had sent a helicopter to scan the area. At 3:40 PM, we were cleared. 

"This situation made us delayed going to Perfect Day at CocoCay, as we did not arrive until about 12:30 PM. However, we were all very relieved that this was the only negative outcome of the day!”

A surprise guest in our cabin

When boarding Liberty of the Seas, Nicole Feist and her husband were notified of someone else listed on their cabin.

“As we were scanning our SeaPass card to go up the ramp to the ship, we were asked where ‘Lisa’ was," Nicole explained. "We told them that we didn't know a Lisa, and we were the only two assigned to our room. The person scanning had us move to the side and get a supervisor over to check out what the issue was. 

"On their system, it was showing that all three of us were assigned to the same cabin. They told us that they would look into the issue and we were fine to board, so we went ahead and got on the ship. 

"My husband headed to Guest Services to see if they knew what the issue was. It turned out that Lisa was from the previous sailing and hadn't yet closed out her onboard account. That was why she was still showing as assigned to our room! We kept an eye on our account, and luckily we didn't get any of her charges placed on it.”

Late-night false alarm

Adventure of the Seas in St Maarten

During the mandatory muster drill, you never expect to actually hear the ship’s alarm during your cruise vacation. 

Onboard Adventure of the Seas, Matt Hochberg was enjoying himself in the pub when all of a sudden, the alarms sounded.

“Once the alarm went off, crew members instructed us to go to our muster stations," Matt explained. "It was 11:20 PM, and my kids were in Adventure Ocean. Being on the Promenade, we were close to our station so we were among the first out to the station. In fact, we beat a lot of the crew members out there. 

"All this time, the alarm was repeating. A few minutes later the alarm stopped and the captain came on the intercom to let us know it was a false alarm. The crew later told us something was up because when the alarm goes off in drills, they expect to hear an announcement after the first time the alarm is sounded.”

Unexpected scenarios can always occur on a cruise, and these are moments we'll never forget! Have you ever seen anything out of the ordinary on a cruise? Let us know in the comments below!

8 ways my cruising style has changed over 100 sailings

23 Jan 2023

Last December, my husband and I hit a personal milestone as we celebrated our 100th cruise together. Coincidentally, that sailing was also my 100th cruise with Royal Caribbean.

I was curious to see how my approach to cruising has changed since our first sailing in 2004, and also how things have changed in the cruising industry.

From cruising more frequently to booking better cabins, we've made several key changes to our cruising approach in the past 19 years. Here are the top ways my cruising style has changed after 100 sailings.

Frequency of cruising

Freedom of the Seas sailing away from Miami

When we first started cruising, we sailed once a year, and always in October for our anniversary, which usually coincided with Halloween sailings. 

As time went on, we started doing two weeklong cruises and two weekend sailings each year.  Once we realized that reaching Pinnacle Club status was a realistic goal, we began cruising ten or more times per year, which is pretty much where we still are today.

Related: Pathway to Pinnacle: How I reached the top of Royal Caribbean's Loyalty Program

Ports vs. Ship

Early on, whenever we booked a cruise, we always made sure to pick an itinerary with at least one port that was new to us. However, when you frequently sail to the Caribbean, that gets harder to do.

Of course, you can take cruises to Alaska, Europe or Australia to find new destinations, but for me, that involves a lot of flying, which I am not a fan of doing. Therefore, it’s basically the Bahamas and Caribbean. I like to choose an itinerary with Cozumel as it’s a personal favorite of ours.

The ship itself, though, has become more of a selling point for us when booking a cruise. A Voyager, Freedom, or Oasis Class ship is a must. Then again, we still haven’t been on a Quantum Class ship, so who knows, maybe that will be a favorite in the future.

As far as departure ports go, Port Canaveral will always be our first choice. Sure, it’s the one closest to home, but we also feel it's the most efficient.


Crown Loft Suite

In the beginning, our approach to picking a stateroom was always “whatever is cheapest”. That meant a lot of interior cabins, some of which were so tiny you could lay on the bed sideways and stretch out to touch both walls! We figured since we weren’t in the room that much, the size didn’t matter. 

Today we find ourselves spending more time enjoying the room. We typically book Junior Suites with the occasional Crown Loft Suite. I’m at the point where I need to have a balcony, even if it’s an interior-facing cabin like the Central Park balcony we recently tried on Wonder of the Seas. I just like to have the option of fresh air.

Onboard Activities

I would guess everyone new to cruising feels the same way about onboard activities: you have to do everything in the Cruise Planner to make the most of your vacation. That certainly was us when we started cruising; we went to every show and trivia game available! 

Today when it comes to trivia, I only show up to the ones that I have the most interest in, such as classic rock and Disney-themed trivia.

Long gone are the days of the Flowrider, ziplining, and ice skating. Instead, I find myself enjoying a more relaxing experience.

Sailing on the same ships over and over again means you have seen the main theater shows multiple times, although there are favorites that I still look forward to. I never miss a performance of Ice Games! on Allure of the Seas or Aqua80 on Oasis of the Seas. Plus, there are always guest entertainers that keep the shows fresh for frequent cruisers.            


Our early days of cruising were all about the Main Dining Room for dinner. One of our goals was always to score that elusive table for two by the window (which rarely, if ever happened). Breakfast and lunch were exclusively in the Windjammer. 

Dining venues included in your cruise fare have come a long way since we first started cruising. The Oasis Class ships now offer the Solarium Bistro, Park Café and El Loco Fresh, to name a few.

Recently, we’ve migrated to mostly specialty dining restaurants, especially on embarkation day.  The crowded Windjammer at lunch that first day just stresses me out! It’s worth the cost for me to be able to enjoy nachos and wings at Playmakers at a leisurely pace.

We’ve also found ourselves ordering more room service than in the past, and I really enjoy having breakfast on the balcony.


In 100 cruises, I think we bought the Deluxe Beverage Package three times. Once we became Diamond members, we just enjoyed our free drinks during happy hour in the lounge each evening. 

After the restart of the cruising industry in 2021, the Crown & Anchor Society changed the free drinks to an allotment of drink vouchers per day. These vouchers can be used anywhere onboard at any time, and they have definitely changed our approach to drinking onboard.

I get a vanilla latte most mornings at Café Promenade, then enjoy cocktails throughout the day. These drink vouchers also work at Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee!

These drink vouchers are the second best thing to come from the pandemic (the first being the virtual muster drill, but I digress).


When we first started cruising, we used to do an excursion in every port. From swimming with dolphins in Cozumel, visiting Stingray City in Grand Cayman, ziplining in Labadee, and horseback riding in Montego Bay, we literally did it all!

The excursions we book now are primarily at Perfect Day at CocoCay. It’s not unusual to find us at Thrill Waterpark, and we’ve also been known to book the Coco Beach Club or floating cabanas.

Related: Coco Beach Club: cost, tips & review

In Europe, we did ship excursions and explored on our own. Tours booked through Royal Caribbean are easier, but if you’re a planner like me, you can see so much more on your own. Just make sure you’re back by all aboard time!

Onboard expenses

Nowadays when we cruise, we no longer purchase photo packages, massages, and gifts for everyone we know. I will, however, always buy an ornament of the ship the first time I sail on a new one. I started this with our very first ship and have kept up with the tradition all this time.

After 100 cruises, I’ve noticed that my spending has transitioned more from charging things on my SeaPass card to needing more cash. I use this cash for extra gratuities to the bar staff, dining servers, stateroom attendants, and concierges (and for the occasional slot machine).

Even though the way we cruise has changed over the past 19 years, our love for it has not. I look forward to the next 100!

5 things that surprised me about going on my first solo cruise, from enjoying my own stateroom to conversing with others

17 Jan 2023

I recently went on my first solo cruise during a 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailing on the Symphony of the Seas, and it was nothing like I expected it to be.


When you embark a cruise ship, you’ll see families in matching t-shirts, eager to kickstart their vacation and spend time together.

Parents will drag their children to Adventure Ocean to get them properly registered before setting sail, while the teens might be nose first into their phones trying to soak in the last bit of cell service.

For older groups of adults, you might find them hopping from bar to bar to figure out which bartender is their favorite as early on as possible.

Symphony of the Seas zip line view

Cruises are a great vacation for small and large families alike because there’s something for everyone.

Before my first solo cruise, the extent of my independent travel was limited to airports and planes. I was nervous, excited, and everything in between!

Here are five things that surprised me about going on my first solo cruise.

I enjoyed having a stateroom to myself


Initially, I was nervous to be in an interior cabin alone for one week. Prior to this sailing, I had only ever stayed in balcony cabins, and even then I often slept in and nearly missed breakfast.

However, I found coming back to my own stateroom each evening after being around masses of people to be relaxing.

I never had to ask anyone if they wanted to shower first or share closet space; there was no bumping into or bickering with family members while trying to rush to get ready for dinner.


Having an interior cabin to myself made it feel larger, too. I was able to keep everything pretty neat throughout the week, so it never felt cluttered. While I would’ve enjoyed a balcony, I think it would have almost felt like too much space for one person.

Plus, it forced me to get out and mingle on the top deck, rather than stay secluded on my own private terrace.

I will say that I did keep the television channel with the cruise map on all week, and I think having constant music playing in the background helped the room feel more cozy and less lonely!

I prefer exploring ports on my own, rather than going on cruise line sponsored shore excursions


This one truly surprised me, as I made it a plan to only go off with the cruise line due to safety concerns. I don’t have an international cellular plan, so I didn’t want to be wandering in a relatively unfamiliar place without the ability to contact anyone.

I bought a ticket through Royal Caribbean for the Pelican Peak Zip Line in St. Maarten. I had been zip lining in Jamaica before, and all parties were laughing and cheering on each other by the end of the excursion. I had similar hopes and expectations for this tour. 

My group consisted of one family of four, one couple, a brother and sister duo, and another solo guest. Everyone kept to themselves during the ride to Pelican Peak, and the guide was speaking so much that there weren’t any opportunities for participants to mingle.

At the end of the 1,500 foot zip line, all parties dispersed. I thought people would talk about their experiences while waiting for the shuttle back to the cruse terminal, but I found that I was the only person who waited. And after about thirty minutes of waiting, I opted to walk the fifteen minutes back on my own. 

While docked in St. Thomas, I went off on my own to explore Water Island, a quiet and secluded island off the coast that's the smallest of the four U.S. Virgin Islands.

Honeymoon Beach Water Island

The plan I thought I had went to shambles pretty quickly, but I enjoyed my day talking with locals and other visitors. It made for a more unique experience, and I know that if I ever return, it won’t be quite the same!

It was easy to strike up conversations with other guests


On my first afternoon onboard, I grabbed a strawberry blonde to take back to my stateroom to work on an article about the first look at Royal Caribbean’s new main dining room menus.

In the elevator on the way there, I was asked about the drink by another couple, and we had a full-blown conversation about our favorite cruise drinks before I got off.

That same evening, I went to the first Hyperlink event of the cruise (the Hyperlink program is for guests between the ages of 18 and 25 and aims to bridge cruise ship activities following the teen club to more common adult offerings).

While I was there, I found everyone to be more social and welcoming than I anticipated, and I met two individuals whose family “adopted” me for the week, allowing me to join them at dinner and other activities, including Perfect Day at CocoCay’s Thrill Waterpark.

It was so great to have a buddy that was willing to tag along to the Hyperlink events with me throughout the rest of the week, especially since a few of them were after 11:00pm. 

Seeing how willing people were to jump into conversations at the Hyperlink event made conversing with others a breeze, like when I met a nice couple in Water Island who offered to give me a ride on their golf cart, and I didn’t feel as lonely as I thought I would the rest of the trip.

Dining alone in the Main Dining Room can be a little awkward

When I first moved to New York City, I had immense anxiety about eating alone. Now, I do it at least once per week, albeit in a more fast casual way. Regardless, I had reason to believe that I would have similar experiences solo dining onboard a cruise ship.

In reality, I found it to be much more uncomfortable than I expected, and I felt the loneliest on this trip when I did eat alone.

On the first night, I was tucked into a dark corner seated at a table for two on deck three, and my wait staff was confused at the concept of me sailing alone. I was checked up on at least three or four times asking if anyone was going to be joining me.

Main dining room table

Even if I saw other guests hanging out alone during the day, dinner brought travel parties back together.

I’m grateful for the family who let me dine with them each night, as it made my solo cruising experience much more enjoyable!

I’m looking forward to my next solo cruise where I can skip the Main Dining Room, eat in the Windjammer, or dine with others at Izumi’s Teppanyaki!

I didn’t have to prioritize what I wanted to see and do


Since my first solo cruise was also my first work trip, I had to manage experiencing what the ship had to offer, as well as getting all of my assignments done.

That being said, balancing work with cruising felt like a family trip, minus the family.

On those kinds of trips, there’s rarely enough time for everyone to get to do everything that they want to do, so there have to be some compromises made.

The same concept applied to my solo trip, but I got to pick exactly what I wanted to do in my free time, whether that was lounging in the Solarium during the day or watching a show at night.

I didn’t get to zip line, try out the FlowRider, or ride down the Ultimate Abyss, but those are all activities I have done in the past; I was more focused on using my leisure time to relax and enjoy some entertainment!

Overall thoughts on solo cruising


While I enjoyed my trip and am thankful for the new friendships I made, cruising is a whole lot more fun when you're sharing the experience when your loved ones! I often felt myself reminiscing on trips I've taken with my dad and sister and wishing that they were with me. 

In the future, I won't immediately cross a solo cruise off the list, especially now that I know what to expect. To me, a solo cruise equates more with work than for leisure! 

Things I wish Royal Caribbean would copy from other cruise lines

05 Jan 2023

It's no secret that I love cruising on Royal Caribbean, but there are a few things I wish my favorite cruise line would borrow from the competition.

Two cruise ships docked side by side

Overall, I think Royal Caribbean is the best cruise line out there for its approach to mainstream cruising.  Suffice to say, I have no issues with continuing to cruise with Royal Caribbean.  But like any company, there's always room for improvement.

Over the years, the cruise industry as a whole tends to follow trends and it's not uncommon for one line to introduce a change or new concept and for other lines to take notice of it and incorporate it into their approach.

A great example of this is the change from a traditional muster drill to eMuster drill that occurred in 2021. This was a change Royal Caribbean was among the first to introduce, and other lines quickly adopted it as well.

Two ships side by side

Along those lines, I can't help sometimes but see what other lines are doing and wish Royal Caribbean would at least take some of those ideas or approaches into their ships.

For the record, this wouldn't be the first time Royal Caribbean took inspiration from another cruise line. A classic example is the virtual balcony, which was copied from Disney Cruise Line's virtual porthole.

While the grass may not necessarily be greener on the other side of the cruise line fence, these are a few ideas I like that I wouldn't mind seeing Royal Caribbean add to their ships.

NCL: Add new venues to older ships

Pinnacle Lounge on NCL Sky

I was watching a video from Emma Cruises of the NCL Sky, which was launched in 1996, and was impressed this 25+ year old ship has as many new venues as it does.

When Norwegian refurbished the ship in 2019, they added 8 new venues (along with updated public spaces and refreshed cabins).

To be fair, Royal Caribbean's Royal Amplified program added some wonderful new venues to existing ships, but the program bypassed the Vision and Radiance Class cruise ships. NCL Sky is a ship even older than the Vision Class ships.

Starbucks on NCL Sky

I was impressed when I saw NCL added a sushi bar, pub, mojito bar, Starbucks, and a few new lounges to a ship as old as NCL Sky.

Of course, this refurbishment occurred pre-2020 when the cruise industry was flush with cash. Times are very different now, but eventually cruise lines will recover financially and be in a position to refurbish older ships again. When they do, I'd love to see more love for the older vessels.

Carnival: Variety of free (and good) restaurants

Blue Iguana

When Royal Caribbean introduced El Loco Fresh to its ships as a complimentary restaurant on the pool deck, it was a revelation in having quick access to good and free food.  I wish we'd get more of these sort of venues.

I hear a lot from cruise fans that if there's one thing Carnival Cruise Line does well, it's their complimentary food offerings.

BlueIguana Cantina, Guy’s Burger Joint, Carnival Deli and Big Chicken are all great examples of complimentary dining venues that offer some really good food.

El Loco Fresh

What makes these restaurants stand out is not just that they're complimentary, but they're pretty darn good too.

If you wanted a quick bite to eat without paying extra on Royal Caribbean, you probably had to go the Windjammer. Newer ships might have had El Loco Fresh or Boardwalk Dog House, but these are few and far between and lack the variety of food Carnival has.

While it's early, I think Royal Caribbean is going to move more in this direction with Icon of the Seas when it launches. However, the rest of the fleet could use these sort of options too.

Guy's Burger

Piggybacking on the first point in this article about adding new venues to older ships, let's also get more great complimentary dining added to existing ships to keep up with Carnival's food game.

Disney: Split bathrooms

DCL cabin

Since Disney Cruise Line launched, their approach to offering families more space and options in cabins has been a big deal.

I believe Royal Caribbean has taken notice of the family cruise market more than any other line in their approach to offering equally compelling options for kids (and their parents) onboard, but the cruise cabins could still benefit from something Disney does well.

In short, I like the split bath concept that comes in standard cabins.

DCL Split bath

With a split bath, there's two bathrooms. One has a shower with a tub (rare on cruise ships) and a sink; the other has a toilet and sink.

Having a split bathroom is super helpful for families, as well as almost anyone sharing a cabin with another person.  While I think two bathrooms helps families out a lot, this concept can benefit just about anyone.

Unrelated, but Disney's brand of shampoo, conditioner, and soap smell great too!

Surfside family suite

When Icon of the Seas launches next year, it will have more family cabins than before. Icon will have 82% of rooms with a high occupancy of 3 or more guests, which is more than double the Oasis Class ships.

Read moreGuide to Icon of the Seas cabins and suites

Celebrity: Include gratuities in cruise fare

Crew member smiling at the bar

It's time we stop pretending gratuities for the crew members are some kind of a separate cost that isn't inherently part of the overall cruise price.

Royal Caribbean still charges an automatic gratuity that you either pre-pay or get charged each day of the cruise.  So one way or another, you're going to pay it.

I think Celebrity Cruises did the right thing by just incorporating gratuities into the cruise fare and taking the ambiguity of tips out of the equation.

In 2020, Celebrity Cruises rolled out the "Always Included" plan, which means cruise fares now include automatically Wi-Fi, drinks and gratuity.  

The cruise line says they made this change in an effort to avoid "confusing promotions, complicated add-ons and limited-time offers."  

Other than cruises from Australia, Royal Caribbean doesn't include gratuities in its fare.  This is likely because it helps market the price of the cruise as being lower.

Celebrity Beyond

While I don't think Royal Caribbean needs to include as much it its cruise fare as Celebrity does, gratuities should absolutely be part of the base cruise fare.

Not only do the crew members deserve it, but the notion that tipping on a cruise is somehow optional is antiquated.

Princess: Alaska cruise itinerary variety

Princess cruise ship in Alaska

I have loved every single Alaska cruise I've ever taken, and I'd love to see Royal Caribbean offer more options.

While Royal Caribbean has added more cruise ships to Alaska in recent years, the market leader in Alaska cruises is arguably Princess Cruises.

In 2023, Princess will have six ships sailing to Alaska that feature 14 unique itineraries, including stops at Glacier Bay National Park.

Princess Alaska itinerrary

A great example is on the Majestic Princess, which offers a cruise tour where you visit four national parks: Glacier Bay, Denali, the Kenai Fjords and America’s largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias. The 15-night trip combines a seven-night cruise from Vancouver to Whittier, Alaska, with another week on land, ending in Fairbanks.

Princess also offers Alaska cruises from San Francisco, an embarkation port Royal Caribbean doesn't serve.

Radiance of the Seas in Alaska

I think Royal Caribbean has a compelling Alaska program, but I also think there's more opportunity here than what we've seen thus far. Alaska has so much to offer, and it seems to sell so well that investing more in the region seems like a no-brainer.

MSC: Late-night visits to its private island

Ocean Cay evening

They say turnabout is fair play, so I think it's time for Royal Caribbean to take a page out of MSC's play book.

MSC has been known to certainly borrow other cruise line ideas, so if there's one thing MSC does well it's their late-night visits to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

Just like Perfect Day at CocoCay, MSC has a private island in The Bahamas. Whereas Royal Caribbean ships will stay until the late afternoon at best, MSC's ships offer evening activities.

Ocean Cay at Dusk

MSC's ships don't allow overnight visits (although sometimes the ship will stay docked overnight), but they do allow guests to stay on the island until around midnight.

By staying late into the evening, it opens up so much more time to enjoy arguably one of the best features of any Royal Caribbean cruise: private island visits.


When MSC offers a late night stay, passengers can go to a party that has DJ, bonfire, and dancing. Bars on this part of the island stay open late, as well.

This seems like an easy win for Royal Caribbean to offer more out of their highly-rated private island, especially in the summer months when the sun doesn't set until much later.

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