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Internet reveals 18 simple ways to how to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise

13 May 2024

From a few dollars to hundreds, there are easy ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise if you know what to do.

Money Saving tips

While a Royal Caribbean cruise is largely considered an affordable vacation, the overall cost can go up quickly if you're not careful. You can avoid overspending by following some of the best money-saving tricks.

Users on the Royal Caribbean sub Reddit were asked to share all the ways they save money on Royal Caribbean, no matter how miniscule the difference.

Here are the 18 things you can do to save money on how to save money. We also have our list of Royal Caribbean tips and tricks that cover every aspect of a cruise. 

1. Stick to the free restaurants

One of the most repeated tips to save money on any Royal Caribbean cruise was to eat the restaurants included in your cruise fare.

Royal Caribbean offers restaurants that cost nothing extra to dine at, as well as restaurants that cost extra. The choice is yours, and a lot of cruises assume they need to eat at the specialty restaurants because of how much the cruise line advertises them.

Read more: How does Royal Caribbean dining work?

The reality is the food offered at the Main Dining Room, Windjammer buffet, and other spots are very good. There's certainly more than enough food to keep you satisfied, and considering how much the cruise fare costs up-front, it makes sense to lean heavily into the restaurants rather than spending more on additional restaurants.

Specialty restaurants can offer either higher quality food, or cuisines not otherwise available in the free restaurants.  But if you can avoid the temptation to dine at them, you could save a lot of money quite easily.

2. Book an inside room instead of a balcony or suite

Split bed configuration inside cabin

Another super easy tip to save money is cut back on your cabin.

There are four basic types of staterooms on any cruise: inside, oceanview, balcony, and suites. Generally speaking, the price goes up as you move up to each category.

An inside room is going to almost certainly be the cheapest option, and it gets you everything you need without a hefty price.

Odyssey of the Seas interior cabin 9225

No matter how much more moving up to a balcony would be, the money saved by staying in an inside cabin could be a real difference maker. Similar-reason-5200 wrote, "let's be honest you aren't spending much time in there," and there's a lot of truth to that statement.

Read more: Inside cabin vs. balcony room

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

There's so much happening around the ship and in the ports of call you visit, that a lot of times the cabin ends up being somewhere to sleep, shower, and change and then you're elsewhere.

TrekJaneway added, "I don’t really spend time in my room, so all I need is a place with a bed and a shower, and I’m good."

Read more: Where is the best place to stay on a cruise ship?

3. Don't be lured into buying jewelry or watches

Royal Bling jewelry

A lot of people think the jewelry deals offered on the ship simply aren't great.

The Invicta watches are one notorious type of jewelry that some cruisers question the value of. You'll likely see lots of sales and advertisements on the ship for those and other pieces, and by not indulging, you could save a lot.

4. Bring your own over-the-counter medication


You never know if you'll catch a cold, eat something that doesn't agree with you, or get seasick, so be prepared.

JanieLFB shared her tip that she will buy a travel-sized options before the cruise begins, "I went to my local drugstore and bought small packets of generic drugs." This little trick could save you money considering how much Royal Caribbean charges for the same drugs onboard. 

It's a good idea to bring these essentials to keep in your cabin:

  • Cold medicine
  • Seasickness medication
  • Headache medicine
  • Sunburn treatment
  • Upset stomach and diarrhea medicine
Vending machine

Bringing your own medication ensures you not only don't waste money on the same overpriced meds on the ship, but you also get the brand, dosage, and type of delivery method you prefer.

Read more: Ultimate cruise packing list

5. Skip a drink package

Two cocktails

A lot of people on Reddit advocated not buying a Royal Caribbean drink package.

Similar to the argument about the food included, these people felt a drink package just costs too much money and the drinks included with the cruise are sufficient (assuming you don't want alcohol).

Some also felt the drink packages require too much drinking to "break even" on them, and you're better off paying for drinks you really want individually.

Read more: 6 alternatives to a Royal Caribbean drink package

And definitely don't try to cheat the drink package either.

6. Bring your own wine or champagne

Wine brought onboard

One easy way to save money on alcohol on your cruise is to bring your own wine or champagne.

Royal Caribbean allows guests to bring one bottle of wine or champagne per adult on embarkation day.

You can also bring 12 bottles of non-alcoholic drinks per stateroom.

Read more: Food or drinks you're allowed to bring on a Royal Caribbean cruise

7. Wait until midnight on the first day to book a WiFi package

Wifi on the balcony

User Illustrious-Gur-6775 had a great way to get back about $20 on your internet package.

Instead of buying it for the entire cruise, wait until midnight on the first day and then activate it.  The rationale is you will be able to use your cellular connection until the ship leaves, and then it's only 7 hours until midnight. 

By waiting to midnight, you'll pay a pro-rated rate for the remainder of the cruise, minus day one.

8. Get free WiFi in port


Instead of buying Royal Caribbean's internet service, you could just find free WiFi spots in the ports you visit.

There's usually a bar, restaurant, or shop that advertises free WiFi while you're in that establishment, and it's good enough for checking your email, catching up on social media, and otherwise getting connected for a brief period.

If being online isn't a priority for you during your cruise, relying on free internet hotspots while in port could save you over a hundred dollars on Royal Caribbean's service.

Don't forget that you can still use the Royal Caribbean app without a WiFi package, including the chat feature.

9. Drink alcohol in port

Just like WiFi, booze are probably cheaper in port too.

It's not difficult to find bars in the ports your ship visit, and there's a good chance the price is going to be less than what Royal Caribbean offers, especially in the Caribbean.

You'll need to price it accordingly, but you might save money getting your drink on in port instead of buying drinks on the ship.

10. Order the drink of the day

Drink of the day

Another way to save money on your bar bill is rely on the drink of the day special.

Every day there will be one cocktail that is $3 or $4 cheaper than usual. It's listed in the Cruise Compass, as well as noted on a sign in many bars.

If you're not picky about your drinks, the savings can add up quickly.

Read more: Drink prices on Royal Caribbean

11. Use any loyalty offers first


Even after just one cruise, Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society provides discount coupons you can use.  The catch is you have to remember to ask to use them.

Read more: 11 of our favorite under-the-radar Crown & Anchor perks

Each person gets an assortment of discounts they can use, such as half off a glass of wine, 25% off any coffee beverage, or discounts on Royal Caribbean logo merchandise.

You'll get a letter in your cabin with the exact list of offers each guests has. Then, you just need to ask the crew member at the bar, shop, or spa to redeem the discount when ordering.

Read more: The Crown and Anchor perks you should use on every Royal Caribbean cruise

12. Skip the casino

Casino on Royal Caribbean

Another commonly cited way to save money is not risking any in the ship's casino.

The casino is a huge revenue maker for any cruise line, and while you could theoretically win money here, it's just easier to not go in and spend money there in the first place.

A few Reddit users said to skip the casino as an easy way to save money. You can't lose if you don't play.

13. Look for sales leading up to your cruise

Cruise Planner

While some of these tips advocate skipping the extra cost packages, if you do buy them, you'll want to re-price them again and again.

Royal Caribbean runs sales almost every day, so you should periodically check for new discounts.

14. Set a budget for each day while on vacation

Cash on cruise ship

One way to limit overspending while on your cruise is have a daily budget.

Reddit user tdybr07 shared one example, "For example: plan $100/day spending money per day including sea days. This helps you with spending money on the ship, (shops, casinos, specialty dining or whatever you decide) as well as in ports."

This is a smart method of ensuring you don't go "swipe happy" and come home after your cruise to a giant bill.

15. Prepay gratuities, beverage packages and excursions

Junior Suite on Symphony of the Seas

This will allow you to get on the ship and know that you won’t be charged additional charges unless you make any purchases on the ship.

illuminated0ne wrote, "if you do buy anything from Royal Caribbean, make a note of the price and keep checking back. The prices change all the time, if you see it cheaper, you can just cancel and rebook for a savings."

There's no penalty for cancelling and rebooking a Cruise Planner purchase. It just requires you to take the time to double check the price.

16. Look for a good travel agent that has special rates

Symphony of the Seas docked

Some people think booking a cruise directly with Royal Caribbean will save them money, but they're so wrong.

A good travel agent has access to special rates and offers.  Plus, there's no cost to using a good travel agent because Royal Caribbean pays them a commission, not you.

I've lost count how many times I research the cruise I want to book and then contact my travel agent to book, only to be told by them they have a better rate, thanks to a group rate.

wholefvno added to anyone that didn't love their first travel agent, "Travel agents cost nothing and can give you a more personalized experience and good advice. If you had a bad experience, try another one. Some are good at customer service, some are bad."

17. Cruise in the off-season

If you can book a cruise during the shoulder season, you will save so much money compared to peak season.  It's one of the top tips offered on Reddit to get a cheaper cruise.

Jane_Marie_CA wrote to try booking a cruise, "Far away from school breaks and holidays," as a strategy to get lower prices.

As an example, her April 28 sailing on Harmony of the Seas was $2,000 cheaper than the same cruise in summer.

Serenade of the Seas docked in Skagway, Alaska

Royal Caribbean’s off-season prices can typically be found during these dates:

  • January (excluding MLK weekend)
  • February (excluding President’s Day weekend)
  • May
  • September
  • October
  • First two weeks of November
  • First two weeks of December

Of course, the downside to off-season is there's a reason it's less popular. It could be because it's in the middle of hurricane season or during a month prone to colder temperatures.

18. You don't have to get off the ship in port

Oasis Class ship docked in Nassau

Don't feel obliged to get off the ship and spend money on a shore excursion that doesn't excite you.

"If I don't see an excursion that excites me, I don't spend the money," wrote Jane_Marie_CA.

Not only will you save money by not paying for a tour, but you'll get to enjoy a relatively emptier ship while others are in port.

Read more: 5 best reasons to stay onboard the ship while in Perfect Day at CocoCay

Things I Don't Pay Extra for on Royal Caribbean Cruises To Save Money

04 May 2024

One of the easiest ways to save money on your cruise vacation is by limiting your spending in the first place.

Spend extra on a cruise

While a lot is included in your cruise fare, Royal Caribbean has a seemingly endless amount of add-ons that you can pay extra for to enhance your cruise experience.

However, new cruisers want to know: how can you tell which add-ons are important, and which will be a waste of your money?

As I’ve gained experience in cruising with Royal Caribbean, I’ve learned which add-ons are a waste of money, and what I can avoid spending on.

Mariner of the Seas at CocoCay dock

While I love to splurge and have a great cruise experience, some extra-cost items are only a waste of money.

With the knowledge of which ones are worth it, you can skip the scams and avoid getting a long bill at the end of your sailing.

In the end, saving money on unnecessary items allows you to spend more on other luxuries, or even to put towards your next cruise.

From specialty dining to shore excursions on Perfect Day at Cococay, these are the Royal Caribbean add-ons I never pay for.

Specialty restaurants

On my first cruise, I went crazy trying various specialty restaurants.

However, I’ve come to learn that the complimentary cruise cuisine is just as tasty!

Steaks at the Main Dining Room taste almost the same as those at the extra-cost Chops Grille, and the Windjammer has fried fish similar to what’s served at the Mason Jar.

Even when the dishes are different, the complimentary venues serve tasty food that you can't find at specialty restaurants.


Not only that, but dining at free venues like the Windjammer and the Park Cafe also grants you a lot of freedom to choose when you eat and what you wear.

You can often serve yourself, and avoid having long meals with eager waiters.

I’ve come to appreciate all the complimentary cuisine onboard Royal Caribbean.

The grove

And since reservations at a specialty restaurant can range from $30 to $200 per guest, I’m saving tons of money each time I choose to eat a free meal.

Read more: How does specialty dining work on Royal Caribbean?

Extra-cost activities

Royal Caribbean ships have countless onboard activities for guests to experience.

However, you have to stay alert, because not all these activities are free!

For example, I’ve gotten excited seeing a cupcake decorating or sushi-making class in my Cruise Compass schedule, only to find out that the classes cost over $30 per person.


To avoid spending money on activities that cost extra, make sure to double-check the prices in your Cruise Compass.

Instead of wasting your money, go ahead and find free activities, whether that’s lounging by the pool, watching a movie, or enjoying a workout in the gym.

Balcony staterooms

The idea of staying in a stateroom with a balcony is tempting. You could have a private star-gazing area, a space to feel the wind in your hair, and dine in front of the sea.

Balcony cabins are also a little more spacious for couples or families who want more privacy.

But if you’re willing to give up these amenities, you can save hundreds of dollars.

Read more: Inside cabin vs. balcony room on a cruise ship

View from balcony in Alaska

Let’s take an Alaska vacation as an example. Say you want to cruise from Seattle to Alaska on Anthem of the Seas. 

If you look forward to 2025, you’ll see that the 7-night May 30th sailing is listed at $838 per person for an interior cabin.

Jumping up to a balcony cabin raises the price to $1,291 per person—a $453 difference.

If you were to cruise with two people to Alaska next year, you’d save almost $1000 by booking an interior cabin instead of a balcony.

While the costs vary depending on the cruise, an interior cabin will always give you the cheapest cruise fare option.

Over my many cruises with Royal Caribbean, I’ve sailed the majority of them in inside guarantee cabins—and I plan to keep doing so.

Read moreI always stay in an inside cabin on a cruise ship. Here's why I actually like these rooms

Harmony of the Seas interior cabin

Saving money with my cabin choice pushes me to explore more onboard the ship, getting out of the room and only returning to sleep. 

I highly recommend them to anyone looking to save money on a cruise. 

If you need to view the ocean or feel a breeze, just head out and up to the pool deck.

Spa treatments

Massage at the spa

The first time I saw Royal Caribbean’s spa prices, my jaw dropped.

I had considered booking a couple’s deep tissue massage until I saw that it cost more than $450 for 100 minutes.

In contrast, a 5-star spa located near my home offers the same treatment for less than $360.

Since then, I’ve opted out of booking any spa treatments on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Spa on Voyager of the Seas

Save your money, and choose a luxurious spa treatment once you’re back on land.

There are plenty of other activities you can experience on a cruise, including free spa tasters that are offered onboard.

If you need other ways to relax, try soaking in a hot tub, lying down on a sunny beach, or taking a nap in your dark cabin.

Your wallet will thank you.

Onboard shopping

Much like the Vitality spa, almost all the shops onboard Royal Caribbean ships have higher prices than on land.

Whether I’m looking at toiletries, medicine, or some new jewelry, I’m careful not to buy anything unless it’s absolutely essential or on sale.

Once, I forgot to pack seasickness medicine and decided to shop onboard.

Items for same

I ended up buying an essential oil mix for around $15. Painfully, I had the same essential oils sitting (for free) at home.

Before you spend money in those onboard shops, consider whether you can buy those items anywhere else. 

I guarantee you, it will be cheaper.

Add-ons at CocoCay

Beach bed

Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas is a tropical paradise.

With bars, pools, beaches, waterparks, and even wildlife, there are endless adventures to experience.

Read more: What to do at CocoCay? 18 things to try on your visit


However, there’s no reason to spend any extra money while visiting this island.

From tram rides to beaches, there are dozens of free activities and dining venues available.

I’ve stopped buying any shore excursions for sale on Perfect Day at CocoCay, having learned to save my money and enjoy the complimentary venues.


Coffee on Brilliance of the Seas

As a coffee addict, I’m here to inform you that you don’t have to spend extra on Royal Caribbean coffee.

Yes, there are cafés onboard. These cafés usually serve Starbucks coffee, with a selection of specialty lattes and milks.

However, there’s no reason to waste money on extra-cost coffee, whether it’s hot or iced.

Coffee included

Royal Caribbean’s free brewed coffee is about the same quality, and you can request any special milk you need onboard.

Add your own sugar and milk or cream, and you have an adequate coffee drink.


Laundry bags

Royal Caribbean does not provide any self-service laundry services onboard.

If you want to do any laundry throughout your cruise, you’ll have to pay extra.

The cost depends on which service you select, but the most basic service—a wash and fold package—costs $34.99 per bag of small clothing.

This cost can really add up, especially if you want to wash clothes for more than one person.


Instead of spending $35 per bag of clothing, you can save money by packing efficiently, and leaving the washing until after the vacation.

By packing lots of re-wearable, light clothing, I avoid doing laundry at all, making my cruise an even more relaxing vacation.

Another option is to pack detergent packets and do small clothing items in your sink.  There is a clothes line in the shower to dry your clothes.

I don’t have to worry about any household chores, nor do I have to pay someone else to do them for me.

8 ways I saved over $2,000 on my recent Royal Caribbean cruise

04 Jan 2024

There are a few proven strategies I always use to save money on a cruise vacation, and my recent cruise was no exception.

Jenna on a cruise ship

After cruising over twenty times on a budget, I’ve learned how to stretch my vacation budget during every aspect of the process, from booking my cruise fare to planning shore excursions.

On my most recent cruise on Brilliance of the Seas—a 10-night sailing to the South Pacific from Sydney, Australia—I saved thousands of dollars by using a few of these travel “hacks”.

Not only was this itinerary the longest cruise I had ever booked, but it was the furthest from home I had ever traveled for a cruise. Wanting to make the most of my trip to Australia, I tried to stretch my budget as far as possible.

Here are the eight ways I saved thousands of dollars on my recent cruise vacation.

*All prices are in US Dollar (USD) unless otherwise noted

I booked an interior cabin

For my ten nights on Brilliance of the Seas, I stayed in an interior cabin. While staying in a windowless, closet-sized cabin is nothing luxurious, it’s definitely a money saver.

While booking my cruise, I compared the price of an interior cabin to the more spacious ocean view and balcony cabins, but higher cruise fares kept me from booking these rooms.

I paid $2,018 total for the cabin, or $1,009 per guest. If I had booked an oceanview or balcony cabin instead, my cruise fare would have increased by hundreds of dollars.

Related: Why you should book a cruise ship inside room

In most cases, I prefer to stretch my vacation budget as far as possible. Saving a few hundred dollars on my cruise fare gave me a bigger budget for other aspects of my vacation, whether the scuba diving trip I booked prior to the cruise or shore excursions in the South Pacific.

Additionally, there is not much scenery (aside from the ocean) when sailing to and from ports in the South Pacific. If I had booked a cruise to New Zealand, on the other hand, I might have decided to splurge on a balcony.

I booked my cruise a year in advance

When it comes to finding the cheapest cruise deals, it’s almost always better to book far in advance rather than at the last minute. Booking your cruise one or two years in the future can save hundreds (or possibly even thousands) of dollars compared to waiting until just a few months before the departure date.

Of course, it’s not always possible to book cruises so far in advance. It might be difficult to plan vacation days, school schedules, and other responsibilities years in the future. Fortunately for me, my biggest responsibility is my dog, so I was able to book my cruise a year in advance without worry.

Related: The best time to book cruises by day, month, and last-minute

Booking my cruise a year before the departure date not only offered a lower price compared to booking months later, but more options for cabins, too. For those looking to book a particular suite, it’s recommended to book your cruise early so the cabin doesn’t sell out.

When I repriced the cruise months after booking, I saw the price of my cabin had increased by around $1,000. I was glad to have booked the cruise as early as I did.

I split private shore excursions with other guests

I rarely book shore excursions when I cruise, typically preferring to explore on my own. Yet when researching the South Pacific islands on my itinerary, I realized a shore excursion might be the best way to explore several of the islands.

Looking to get the most bang for my buck, I decided against booking shore excursions directly through Royal Caribbean. While convenient, these excursions are almost always priced higher than tours booked through independent tour operators.

Instead, I booked shore excursions with other guests on my cruise. A few months prior to my sailing, I joined a Facebook group for my cruise date. Not only was the group a helpful resource when planning my first cruise from Australia, but I found several posts advertising open spots on excursions booked through independent tour companies.

In Noumea, New Caledonia, I snagged a spot on a private catamaran tour to nearby islands, and I joined a group of friends on an excursion in Luganville, Vanuatu.

Booking these tours on my own would have been much more costly—the catamaran would have set me back over $2,000 alone!

I used my Crown & Anchor Society discounts whenever possible

Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society program is among the most generous cruise line loyalty programs in the industry. You only need to cruise once to start reaping the most basic benefits of the program, such as discounts on internet packages and select beverages.

As a Diamond Plus member of the Crown & Anchor Society, the second highest tier, I receive a range of money-saving benefits, from a free bag of laundry to five complimentary drinks per day.

Related: 11 of our favorite under-the-radar Crown & Anchor perks

Taking advantage of these discounts during my 10-night cruise allowed me to save several hundred dollars, especially considering each cocktail costs around $15.

In total, I saved $25 by using a BOGO deal at a specialty restaurant, $35.99 on a bag of laundry, and over $750 on alcoholic beverages.

I took the train from the airport instead of an Uber

I may have saved hundreds of dollars by booking an interior room over a balcony, but even the smallest purchases can add up to great savings over time.

When I arrived at the airport in Sydney, I decided against taking a taxi or Uber into the city. Instead, I rode the train that goes directly from the airport to downtown for around $12.

Given that an Uber would have cost roughly $25-30, I found the train to be the better choice. As another plus, riding the train meant I didn’t have to wait in traffic while traveling downtown, and my hotel was within a short walk from the station.

I monitored flights to find the best deal

When I initially estimated the cost of my flight to Australia, I gave myself a budget of around $1,600. Given the distance between the United States and Australia, I assumed flights would be fairly expensive, especially since my home airport is quite small.

Because I booked my cruise so far in advance, I had a lot of time to monitor flights and try to find the best price. When I first looked, I saw prices around $1,500 to $1,600. While technically within my budget, I decided to risk it and wait for a better deal.

I checked and monitored flight prices on Google Flights every few weeks hoping for a price drop. A few months before my cruise began, I decided I should book my flight sooner rather than later; when I checked again, I saw that the price had dropped to just $1,273.

While $1,273 is still a hefty amount of money to spend on a flight, I found it extremely reasonable for a flight to Australia. Considering that it often costs me $600+ to fly to Florida from the west coast (yikes!), an extra $600 to fly to Australia felt like a bargain.

I utilized Priceline’s Express Deals for a cheaper hotel stay

One of the travel “hacks” I’ve utilized throughout the past year is to book my pre-cruise hotel stay through Priceline Express Deals.

Priceline Express Deals is a “blind booking” option on Priceline that can lead to significant savings on hotel stays. When searching for hotels with this feature, you cannot see the exact name and location in the search results. You can filter the results somewhat, such as selecting your preferred neighborhood in the city, but brands, hotel names, and locations remain hidden.

While this might seem risky, I found a hack for the program. Using Google Images’ reverse image search, you can take the image from Priceline and upload it to Google’s search engine. In most cases, the image will match an image online from the hotel, allowing you to see the exact hotel name and location.

I “blind” booked the Holiday Inn Express Darling Harbour through Priceline, and this saved me around $50 compared to booking the hotel directly on Holiday Inn’s website.

I avoided expensive add-ons on the ship

Finally, the last way I saved money during my recent cruise was by avoiding expensive purchases once onboard Brilliance of the Seas.

Everything you need is included on a Royal Caribbean cruise, from multiple dining venues to entertainment shows and comfortable cabins. Yet most passengers will spend extra on add-ons during their cruise, whether cocktails, spa treatments, or souvenirs.

During my cruise I tried to avoid spending money on extra add-ons whenever possible. While I would have loved to book a spa appointment, I couldn’t justify spending over $200 for a massage. Instead, I took advantage of a complimentary massage included with a cabana rental I reserved in port.

Related: How to have the best experience for cheap on Royal Caribbean

Likewise, I decided against booking specialty dining packages for the sailing. Because I was sailing on an older ship, specialty restaurant options were limited. None of the restaurants particularly appealed to me, so I dined primarily at complimentary restaurants instead.

Sticking mostly to complimentary venues and avoiding activities like gambling helped me save money while on the ship, and I never felt limited with so many free things to do onboard.

The ‘dupe’ trend hit travel. It's a good way to save on your next cruise too

01 Jan 2024

Cruising was expensive in 2023, leading to many to seek out cheaper alternatives to the the premium prices new ships have. It's a great way to save money on a cruise in 2024 and 2025.

Woman happy on a cruise ship

Social media has popularized the concept of "dupes", which is when you seek out cheaper duplicates. It's something Gen Z and millennial influencers trotted out as travel prices starting to rise.

Of course, a dupe is a fancy term for what travelers have been doing for decades of bargain hunting. It's akin to "do this, not that" approach to trip planning and you can apply this strategy to cruises too.

With land travel, you might look at a trip to Memphis, Tennessee instead of Nashville, Tennessee. Or Liverpool, England, instead of London.

Two cruise ships docked side by side

It's a hot trend in travel, and here's how you can apply this to a Royal Caribbean cruise.

It's not about picking the oldest ship possible

Serenade and Mariner of the Seas docked in Cozumel

You might think all you have to do is find the oldest, smallest cruise ship and this exercise is over. But that's over simplifying the idea.

Sure, a cruise on Grandeur of the Seas will almost always be the cheapest option, but finding a dupes is about saving money, not necessarily the lowest price.

Read more: I've sailed on all of Royal Caribbean's oldest ships. Here's why I don't mind sailing on these small ships

Think of it like buying a television. You don't want the cheapest model they have, because it's going to probably not the size you want. Instead, you want to find the best price of the same class of television you're in the market for.

When it comes to cruise ships, the idea is you compromise a little on the ship in exchange for a much better price.

Big ship dupe

Icon of the Seas delivery

Given that Royal Caribbean is well-known for its biggest cruise ships, you might be tempted to book one of their newest and biggest ships: Icon of the Seas or Wonder of the Seas.

These represent the latest and greatest Royal Caribbean has, but they will also have the highest prices.

Assuming you want to go on a big ship with lots to do, water slides, and great entertainment, there are a couple ships to consider instead.

Oasis of the Seas aerial

Oasis of the Seas is the best alternative to sail on instead. It's the original game changer of the Oasis Class ships, and got a massive upgrade in 2019 with $165 million in upgrades.

It has lots for families, including water slides, a Broadway show, a revamped pool deck, and updated kids programming.

Here's a look at prices to see the difference:

Spring Break 2024 - March 17, 2024

  • Icon of the Seas: Starting at $1,806 per person
  • Wonder of the Seas: Starting at $953 per person
  • Oasis of the Seas: Starting at $875 per person
Central Park

Summer 2024 - July 6, 2024

  • Icon of the Seas: Starting at $2,934 per person
  • Wonder of the Seas: Starting at $1,276 per person
  • Oasis of the Seas: Starting at $1,046 per person (Oasis will be in Europe)

Christmas 2024 - December 21, 2024

  • Icon of the Seas: Starting at $2,146 per person
  • Wonder of the Seas: Starting at $1,295 per person
  • Oasis of the Seas: Starting at $964 per person (6-night itinerary)

You'll easily save a few hundred dollars per person by choosing an older Oasis Class ship over a brand new ship.

Alaska cruise dupe

Radiance of the Seas in Alaska

If you're like me, you'd love to take an Alaska cruise and experience everything this beautiful part of the world has to offer.

Finding the right dupe is about balancing dates and ships. There's a big difference in time of year, as much as which ship you pick.

Royal Caribbean offers cruises on two types of ships: Quantum Class and Radiance Class ships.

The bigger Quantum Class ships sail from Seattle, and that will get you a convenient embarkation port, and lots to see and do on your ship.

The Radiance Class ships sail from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It's a bit more difficult and expensive to get flights there (compared to Seattle), and the ships have less to do onboard. But they usually have a much appealing itinerary.

It's also important to note Radiance of the Seas does open-jaw sailings instead of roundtrip. She also offers land tours.  For the purpose of this exercise, we're going to omit Radiance since it's so different in terms of itinerary to the other ships.

Just like the Oasis Class, if you opt for the older ship in the class, you'll probably get a better price.

June 14, 2024

  • Ovation of the Seas: $1,434 per person
  • Quantum of the Seas: $1,418 per person
  • Brilliance of the Seas $1,006 per person
Radiance of the Seas in Alaska

July 12, 2024

  • Ovation of the Seas: $1,497 per person
  • Quantum of the Seas: $1,209 per person
  • Brilliance of the Seas $1,059 per person

August 9, 2024

  • Ovation of the Seas: $946 per person
  • Quantum of the Seas: $986 per person
  • Brilliance of the Seas $698 per person

Alaska's prices aren't as varied as the Caribbean because there's less choices and the season is so short. 

Still, you can see there are price savings in almost every scenario if you choose to cruise on Quantum or Brilliance over the newer Ovation of the Seas.

It's more than just the cruise price

Voyager of the Seas docked in Costa Maya

However, not all dupes will necessarily pay off for cruisers. You may need to rely on other ways to find savings.

Which picking a "dupe" cruise, you should consider what the ship's amenities are, such as dining venues, top deck activities, and entertainment.

Symphony of the Seas

Depending on which week you're looking at cruising, you might find less of a discrepancy than you might have wanted. If you're willing to change the time of year you cruise, you can often save much more money on the cruise fare.

Read more: When is the best time to go on a cruise?

Avoiding peak season times to go on a cruise can be net you much bigger savings than picking one ship over another.

Mariner of the Seas in Nassau

To save money on a cruise in general, try being flexible with your trip dates. For example, pick a Caribbean cruise in September or May instead of July.

Read more: The best time to book cruises by day, month, and last-minute

Picking a shoulder season cruise, along with booking a year or more in advance, is the best combination to saving the most money and getting the lowest price for almost any cruise.

17 of the worst ways people waste money on their cruise vacation

21 Oct 2023

Wasting money is not on anyone’s agenda when planning a cruise, but unfortunately, thousands of passengers find themselves wasting money during their vacation.

Ways people waste money on a cruise

Whether you’re a first-time or veteran cruiser, it can be challenging to navigate the ins and outs of going on a cruise. There is a lot included in your base cruise fare, but most guests onboard end up spending extra on add-ons like alcoholic beverages, shore excursions, and spa treatments.

What is “worth it” to one passenger may seem like a waste of money to another, but there are a few sure-fire ways to spend more than necessary. From purchasing forgotten items at onboard shops to buying photo packages, here are 17 of the worst ways people waste money on their cruise vacation.

Buying drinks without a drink package


Let’s say, for instance, a Deluxe Beverage Package costs $80 per day with gratuities added. With most cocktails priced around $16 each with gratuity added, you would have to drink around five drinks each day to break even.

Five drinks may seem steep, but when you consider how easy it is to enjoy a few drinks by the pool followed by a few glasses of wine at dinner, it’s not an unreasonable amount. In fact, many passengers find they drink far more than five alcoholic beverages a day on a cruise.

Related: Royal Caribbean Drink Package Guide

If you plan on imbibing all day, every day of your cruise, it would be a waste of money to purchase each drink individually. In this case, buying a drink package will allow you to enjoy unlimited beverages without raking up a massive bill by the end of your cruise.

Purchasing toiletries onboard

Forgot your toothpaste at home or your favorite bottle of shampoo? You’ll be able to purchase these items on your Royal Caribbean cruise, but it won’t come cheap. It’s not unheard of to pay $10 for a small bottle of Advil or $8 for a tub of toothpaste onboard!

Unfortunately, shopping options are limited while in the middle of the ocean. Royal Caribbean knows desperate passengers will pay whatever price is listed if they find themselves in need of these items.

To avoid paying high prices for basic necessities, try to remember packing everything in the first place. If you do forget an important toiletry item, see if you can find it at a pharmacy or shop in port before buying it onboard.

Reserving specialty restaurants individually instead of purchasing a dining package


Planning to dine at several of Royal Caribbean’s specialty restaurants? From Italian fare to hibachi, New England-style seafood, and a Brazilian steakhouse, there is a wide variety of specialty restaurants to choose from while onboard.

Specialty restaurants come with an extra charge, and there are two ways to book these meals. The first is by making restaurant reservations individually on Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner website or in the app. By doing this, you can select the date and time of your reservation months in advance.

The second way to book specialty restaurants is by reserving a dining package. Royal Caribbean offers several dining packages, from the Unlimited Dining Package to the 3-night Dining Package. With a dining package, you cannot book dining reservations until you board the ship.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Royal Caribbean’s Unlimited Dining Package

Booking restaurants individually ensures you can better plan your dining times, but it comes with one major con: a higher price. In most cases, booking a Royal Caribbean dining package means you can save money at specialty restaurants, as the price of the package is cheaper than booking reservations individually.

Therefore, if you plan to dine at several specialty restaurants during your cruise, it’s recommended to purchase a dining package to save money in the long run.

Buying “local" souvenirs in port

Regardless of whether your cruise docks in Cozumel, Athens, or Phuket, you’re likely to see an abundance of souvenir shops once ashore. And while some souvenir shops may offer local, handmade artwork and trinkets, the majority will not.

Before spending $20 on a “handpainted” magnet or $50 on a piece of “local” jewelry, try to ensure the souvenir is actually worth the cost. More often than not, you’ll see every souvenir shop selling the same souvenirs that arrived in bulk from a factory in another country.

While you can find locally-made souvenirs in port, it takes some extra digging.

Losing a pool towel

Prone to forgetfulness? If so, be extra cautious with pool towels on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

While onboard a Royal Caribbean ship, passengers must scan their SeaPass card at a towel station to check out a towel. You are able to check out as many towels as you’d like, but there’s one catch: if you do not return a towel by the end of the cruise, each towel lost will incur a $25 charge.

Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to keep track of your pool towel onboard. We recommend returning your pool towels after each day of use. Having fewer towels checked out at once will help prevent any towel from becoming lost.

Not bringing their own drinks onboard

Galveston, Texas terminal security

Each guest on a Royal Caribbean cruise can bring a certain number of drinks with them on embarkation day. By doing so, passengers can save money by avoiding purchasing these beverages onboard.

Each guest of drinking age is permitted to bring one 750ml bottle of wine or champagne to the cruise terminal on embarkation day. Passengers may also bring up to twelve standard (17 oz.) cans, bottles, or cartons of non-alcoholic beverages per stateroom, such as soda and sports drinks.

Related: 30 Do’s and Don’ts for the first day of your cruise

If you enjoy drinking wine or soda but did not purchase a drink package, you’ll almost certainly waste money by buying these drinks individually. Plus, if you prefer a certain type of wine or soda, there’s no guarantee your preference will be available on the ship.

Spending too much time in the casino


It goes without saying, but you’re more likely to waste money than win money in the casino on Royal Caribbean. Although there’s nothing wrong with spending a few evenings gambling onboard, it’s better to go in with the mindset that you may lose money.

Of course, there is always the possibility of winning money onboard. It’s not unheard of for passengers to win thousands of dollars gambling on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Like any casino, though, you shouldn’t expect to strike it rich.

Only booking tours through the cruise line

Shore excursions are among the most popular add-ons to purchase for a cruise vacation, but keep your options open. Even though booking tours through the cruise line is convenient, booking a similar excursion through an independent tour operator can be a lot cheaper.

Related: 5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own

Before booking the first shore excursion you see, do some research. Browse websites like GetYourGuide, Viator, and TripAdvisor to see a wider range of tours available. Although booking through an independent tour operator will not offer the same protections as booking directly through Royal Caribbean, many passengers prefer the lower prices and wider range of options.

Thinking a shore excursion is always necessary

Skagway, Alaska, pier with Serenade of the Seas docked

Speaking of shore excursions, another way people waste money on their cruise is by booking an excursion in every port.

When planning a cruise—especially as a first-time cruiser—it can be tempting to book an organized tour in every port of call. After all, if you’ve never been to a particular destination, a shore excursion is an easy way to visit the area’s highlights.

Nonetheless, shore excursions are not always necessary, and some passengers almost never book tours in port. Depending on where your cruise ship visits, it may be easier to explore on your own rather than book an excursion.

This is especially true in smaller ports, where the main attractions are within walkable distance to the cruise port. Skagway, Alaska, as an example, boasts more than enough to do without spending anything extra on a tour or ground transportation, and you’ll find similar scenarios in many European cruise ports.

Related: 16 cheap and free things to do on an Alaska cruise to avoid spending hundreds on shore excursions

Before spending hundreds on a tour of every port, research low-cost activities instead. You may be surprised to find enough to do without an organized excursion.

Using the ATM onboard

All Royal Caribbean cruise ships are equipped with an ATM, but withdrawing money from the machine can come with a hefty $6 fee per transaction.

One way to combat this is by using a debit or credit card that does not charge for ATM fees. In many cases, these cards will initially charge you and then reimburse any applicable fees at the end of the month.

While an ATM fee isn't huge, those small amounts can quickly add up.

Purchasing art at art auctions

Think twice before bidding on that $5,000 piece of artwork on your cruise.

Art auctions are a notorious activity on cruise ships, and they are extremely controversial. They promise a stellar investment on an original piece, and many passengers fall for the trap of spending way too much money on these paintings.

Related: What should you not buy on a cruise ship?

Although browsing the artwork can be fun—and the free champagne at the auction is a nice touch—bidding on artwork is arguably one of the worst ways people waste money on a cruise.

Forgetting to put their phone in airplane mode

As soon as your ship sails away from port, be sure to put your phone into airplane mode. Even if your cell phone coverage includes international service, it will not include roaming coverage from a cruise ship.

A simple call to friends and family back home while at sea could quickly result in a $100+ phone bill. Additionally, if you don’t have any international coverage at all, taking your phone off airplane mode while in port can see similarly high charges.

Avoid wasting money on this unnecessary expense and remember to always put your phone into airplane mode while onboard. If you need to connect to the internet on a cruise, purchase a wifi package instead.

Read moreThe simple trick to avoid thousands of dollars in cellphone charges on a cruise ship

Buying professional photos

It’s impossible to miss the photographers onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise; they walk around the ship and set up backdrops hoping to capture that picture-perfect image of your vacation.

These photographers will, more than likely, ask you to pose for a photo. Having a photo taken does not cost anything extra, but purchasing the professional photos comes with a steep charge.

An individual, 8x10 photo print on a Royal Caribbean cruise costs around $20. Photo packages are available to reserve in advance, but these aren’t cheap either, with a package of twenty photos priced at over $160.

There’s nothing wrong with purchasing a professional photo by which you can remember your cruise vacation, but modern phones can take pictures with excellent quality. If you’re cruising on a budget, it’s best to just use your phone’s camera instead.

If you're a Diamond member or above in Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Society, however, you get one free photo.

Only reserving massages on the ship


You’ll find the Vitality Spa on every cruise ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. While offerings may vary slightly from ship to ship, you can expect to see services such as standard massages, stone therapy, thermal suites, and facials available to reserve.

Spa treatments on Royal Caribbean are not cheap, with most 70 minute massages priced at over $200 per guest.

Depending on your travel style, a spa treatment may or may not be viewed as a waste of money. That being said, weigh your other options before booking a massage on the ship.

At some ports, you may be able to find massages priced much lower than onboard. Plenty of beach clubs in popular ports like Cozumel and Costa Maya, for example, offer in-house spa treatments for around half the price as onboard offerings.

If you’re flexible with massage options, booking a treatment in port can help you avoid wasting extra money onboard.

Buying bottled water onboard

Some cruisers may swear by drinking the bottled water on a cruise ship, but in most cases, this is not only a waste of money, but worse for the environment, too.

Water on a Royal Caribbean cruise is safe to drink, and the cruise line provides unlimited glasses of water free of charge. Yet instead, plenty of passengers choose to purchase water bottles on the ship, which cost around $3 each.

Not only is drinking from plastic water bottles worse for the environment, but it’s a waste of money when considering you can enjoy unlimited water onboard anyway. And, even though bottled water is included in a drink package, it’s more environmentally friendly to bring a reusable water bottle and fill up the bottle from complimentary glasses of ice water instead.

Tipping twice

Certain onboard purchases come with an automatic, 18% gratuity charge, including drinks and spa and salon treatments. When you reserve a $167 spa treatment, you will pay around $30 in gratuities upon checkout.

Likewise, 18% gratuity is added to drinks like cocktails and coffee beverages, too—each $14 cocktail will actually cost over $16.

Related: Tipping on a cruise ship: what you should and shouldn’t do

Because you are already paying tips with these purchases, you shouldn't feel the need to tip extra once onboard for drinks, spa treatments, and dining. If you would like to give something extra to crew members, you’re always welcome to do so, but remember that you already paid gratuities for these services.

Waiting too long to book flights and hotels for the cruise

Airplane in the clouds

The last of the worst ways people waste money on their cruise vacation is by waiting too long to book flights and hotels before the cruise.

If you are not within driving distance of a cruise port, odds are you’ll be flying to the departure city. It’s best practice to buy flights as far in advance as you can to ensure you have the most options and see the lowest fares.

Far too often cruisers wait too long to purchase flights for their cruise and see that prices have raised dramatically. No one wants to pay hundreds of dollars more than another passenger on a plane, so booking flights early can, in most cases, save you money.

Hotels are another pre-cruise expense that should be booked early. You may be able to find cheap last-minute hotel deals, but this isn’t always guaranteed. To avoid spending more than necessary for a pre-cruise hotel, book the hotel as early as you can, especially when traveling during peak season.

Who should (and shouldn’t) get the Royal Caribbean credit card?

13 Sep 2023

If you’re in the market for a new travel credit card, you might be considering applying for the Royal Caribbean credit card. The Visa Signature credit card is offered from Bank of America and aimed at Royal Caribbean's most loyal cruisers.

Royal Caribbean credit card

Choosing the right travel credit card can be daunting. There are tons of options out there, each with their own pros and cons. Some have huge annual fees with a slew of benefits while others cost you nothing with $0 annual fees. 

But, if you aren’t careful about choosing a credit card that fits your travel needs (and budget), you risk not get your money’s worth. On the other hand, having a travel card that aligns with your spending and redemption preferences can be very rewarding and save you money over time.

The Royal Caribbean Visa Signature credit card is aimed at loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers who vacation with the cruise line multiple times a year. With no annual fee and the potential to unlock some decent benefits at sea with Royal Caribbean, it might seem like a good fit for you.

But, even the most loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers could find the redemption options to be limited. Honestly, the benefits from this no-annual-fee credit card are lackluster, at best.

Here is what you need to know about the credit card, along with some pros and cons that could make the Royal Caribbean credit card right (or wrong) for you.

The Royal Caribbean Visa Signature credit card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees

One of the biggest advantages to having the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature card is that you won’t be paying an annual fee. When you have an annual fee on a credit card, you want to ensure you are getting your money’s worth each year with the benefits offered. 

With the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature card, you won’t need to justify the card's cost. Anything you redeem from the card can be worthwhile from this perspective. 

Another advantage for the Royal Caribbean credit card is the fact that it has no foreign transaction fees. If you travel internationally, it’s important to have a credit card that does not charge you for foreign transaction fees. Without this, you will be paying a small fee on every foreign purchase - and it can add up on international travels. 

Having a Visa credit card is also recommended for international travel, as American Express and Discover credit cards are not as widely accepted outside of the United States. Visa is the most commonly accepted credit card around the world, along with MasterCard. So, this is considered a pro for the credit card. 

With the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature, you’ll earn reward points called MyCruise points

When it comes to everyday spending, you’ll earn the following rates with qualifying purchases:

  • For every $1 spent on Royal Caribbean or sister-brand Celebrity Cruises, you’ll earn 2 MyCruise points
  • For every $1 on all other purchases, you’ll earn 1 MyCruise point

For example, if you spend $2,000 on a Royal Caribbean or Celebrity cruise, you will earn 4,000 MyCruise points. If you are not spending frequently with either cruise line, it will take you much longer to accrue enough points for a worthwhile reward. 

Generally speaking, this is not a great earning structure for a travel credit card. Unless you spend a good chunk of change with Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises exclusively, you’ll pretty much be earning 1 point per $1 spent. 

Currently, Royal Caribbean is offering a sign-up bonus of 25,000 MyCruise points and a $50 Air2Sea discount for new cardholders

As with most credit cards, you’ll earn a sign-up bonus if you reach a minimum spending threshold within the first few months of having your new credit card.

Royal Caribbean is currently advertising a sign-up bonus of 25,000 MyCruise points after spending $1,000 or more on purchases within 90 days of opening your new account. This is considered a limited time online offer, so you will want to act fast if you are thinking of signing up for Royal Caribbean’s credit card. 

Those with an upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise could benefit from this the most, as the 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for $250 onboard credit, stateroom upgrades and more, according to the cruise line’s website. You’ll want to make sure you can spend $1,000 on the new card to earn the points before planning to redeem for your cruise. 

The typical welcome offer is 10,000 MyCruise points, although you only need to make one qualifying purchase within 90 days to earn these bonus points. Therefore, it is a better time than most to open the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature card. 

You’ll also receive a $50 discount on Royal Caribbean’s Air2Sea program, but this is only redeemable after you’ve spent $3,500 in card purchases within 90 days of opening the credit card.  

Rewards for MyCruise points can be used for onboard credit, stateroom upgrades, companion fares, cruise discounts and more

Oceanview cabin

Generally speaking, you can redeem your MyCruise points at a rate of 1 cent for every 1 point; however, there are some redemption offers that will earn closer to 2 cents for every 1 point. The more points you earn, the more options you have to get the most bang for your buck. 

If you earn the sign-up bonus of 25,000 MyCruise points, you can redeem these onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise for $250. As you earn more points, you can redeem more lucrative benefits. 

Redemption for rewards start at 1,000 MyCruise points, in which you can donate the equivalent of $10 to World Wildlife Fund. This is a conservation fund that aims to protect the world’s oceans through sustainability efforts. More lucrative benefits start at 5,000 points, where you can start to request stateroom upgrades for short sailings and onboard credit (valued at $50) and Royal Caribbean robes, supposedly valued at $100. 

Once you earn 75,000+ MyCruise points, you can request upgrades for 7-night sailings or utilize a companion cruise fare (valued up to $1,500 on a 5 to 7-night sailing). You can also request an upgrade on a 7-night European sailings (valued at $800) or a 7-night Alaska cruise ($1,200 value) for 75,000 points. These are all earning more than 1 cent per 1 MyCruise point, so any of these redemptions would be a solid use of your MyCruise points. 

MyCruise points can only be redeemed with Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises with little flexibility

One of the biggest downsides to the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature card is that you have little flexibility for redeeming your MyCruise points. 

To start, MyCruise points need to be redeemed at least 7 business days prior to boarding your cruise for the rewards to be applied. Should you forget to redeem your points prior to your embarkation, then you are out of luck, unfortunately.

Another limitation is that you can only earn a maximum of 540,000 MyCruise points. This is worth around $5,400 for most redemption options; while still a sizable amount, most travel credit cards do not cap your earning potential. 

Finally, you should know that MyCruise points expire after five years. Again, this is fairly uncommon for travel cards. Most common travel credit cards do not accrue points that expire.

Royal Caribbean’s Visa Signature card has a high APR, with no introductory rate, so carrying balances on your card can be expensive

Of course, it’s best to pay your statement balance in full each month to avoid interest-rate charges. But, should you carry a balance on your Royal Caribbean Visa Signature card, you’ll be looking at an ongoing APR between 18.24%-28.24% (this is variable, but based on September 2023 rates). 

In general, this APR is higher than the average interest-rate charges that you will find for credit cards that incur interest. So, this is something to heavily consider if you plan to carry a balance.

Compared to other credit cards, Investopedia rates the Royal Caribbean Signature Visa an overall score of 2.9 out of 5 stars

Investopedia reviewed the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature credit card and the card earned a lackluster score of 2.9/5 overall.

This score is based on low point-earning potential (only 1x points on non-Royal Caribbean purchases), high APR, limited redemption choices and minimal benefits. But, the card earned praise for having no annual fee and providing a decent sign-up bonus, currently worth $250. 

The general consensus of the review found that you’d need to be frequently spending money with Royal Caribbean to make the card worthwhile because the most lucrative redemption options come from the higher point tiers. You’ll need to be spending a big chunk of change with Royal Caribbean - likely near $37,500 - to start earning the best redemption options. For example, companion fares only appear as a reward options once you've earned 75,000 MyCruise points.  

However, the sign-up bonus right now with 25,000 bonus MyCruise points could help you get to those higher thresholds quicker. 

All other purchases only earn 1 MyCruise point per $1 spent, which is likely not worthwhile compared to other travel credit cards out there. You are also capped at 540,000 MyCruise points and points expire after 5 years. 

Reviews are mixed on whether the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature card is worth it, according to our site’s readers

American Express gold cards

Here on RoyalCaribbeanBlog, some of our readers have posed the question to others about whether the Royal Caribbean credit card is a good choice. As with most financial decisions, the credit card is a better fit for some than others. 

User Steverk asked “Royal Caribbean credit card… Is it a good deal?”

As you can imagine, he received a myriad of responses from many who have the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature credit card and those who prefer other cards. One response from smokeybandit said, “RC's card is probably one of the worst out there for accumulating points.”

However, another user, waaaytooo, responded, “We just cashed in $1650 in OBC (and there is still $300 more for another cruise to use later) for our upcoming cruise.  For our strategy of accumulating points for onboard credit, this card is great.”

Another interesting response was from Adam Brian Dada, who claims that he prefers the card for one simple reason: redeeming points for onboard credit. If he needs to reprice an excursion or drink package, the onboard credit is available immediately compared to waiting for credit card refunds.

One user, Peter D, says he has the Royal Caribbean credit card but barely uses it. He shares, "I have the BofA Royal Caribbean card, but rarely use it, even for RCL travel.  It might be worth getting it for the first bonus points, but the card does not really have many other good perks.”

While some have found the Royal Caribbean credit card valuable, others find other credit cards more worthwhile.  

You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature is worthwhile for you

The Royal Caribbean Visa Signature credit card could be most valuable for those who cruise often - and exclusively - with Royal Caribbean. This is the only time you earn 2x points with the Royal Caribbean credit card, so it’s your best bet for earning MyCruise points and rewards.

Generally speaking, you can probably find a better travel credit that fits not only your travel spending, but also everyday purchases. 

Having no annual fee makes the decision a little easier, as you won’t need to evaluate whether the benefits are worth the cost of the card. The current sign-on bonus promotion is also a nice perk, although RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers have reported seeing higher welcome bonuses onboard cruises. 

You’ll need to do a lot of spending though with Royal Caribbean to earn enough points to redeem the most lucrative benefits. For example, you need at least 75,000 points to earn a companion fare (or BOGO cruise, essentially).

However, the card’s major downfall is earning just 1 point per $1 spend on all other purchases. You are probably better off pursuing a different credit card that rewards you for also making purchases at restaurants, grocery stores and general travel expenses. 

One example is the Wells Fargo Autograph Visa credit card, which has no annual fee, and you’ll earn 3x points on restaurants, travel, gas, transit, streaming services, and even your cell phone plan. Points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards and statement credits. You also receive some other benefits, such as cell phone protection. Roadside dispatch, travel service assistance and auto rental collision damage waiver. 

If you are willing to pay for an annual fee, you have some great travel credit card options to consider

Even a small annual fee on a credit card can unlock better benefits and higher earning potential with points and rewards. These credit cards also earn more points for everyday purchases, allowing you to earn more points than you’d receive with the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature card.  

One of the best travel credit cards out there continues to be the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This card only has an annual fee of $95, but you’ll earn 60,000 bonus sign-up points when applying - this is worth $750 when redeemed through the Chase travel portal. You earn 2x points on travel, 3x points on dining, 3x points on streaming services. Even better, you get basic built-in travel insurance for things like trip cancellations, baggage delays and trip delays.

At a slightly higher fee, you could also consider the American Express Green Card with an annual fee of $150. You’ll earn 3x points on all travel, transit and restaurants. Currently, the card has a 40,000 sign-up bonus for new cardholders, which is valued around $600 when redeemed for travel. Similar to the Chase Preferred, you also receive basic, built-in travel insurance for trip delays, baggage insurance and rental car loss/damage insurance.

Of course, these are just two popular travel credit cards. There are hundreds of options available, so it’s important to understand where you spend your money most and how you prefer to earn and redeem your points. 

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - When to book cruise add-ons

26 Jul 2023

Listen to the Show

Everyone wants to save money, so when is the best time to buy popular add-ons for your Royal Caribbean cruise?

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:

6 ways to squeeze in another cruise this year, from working remote to leveraging holidays

14 Jul 2023

Whether you cruise once a year or once a month, you might be tempted by the idea of working another cruise sooner than you planned.

Freedom of the Seas bow

Cruising is addictive because of the casual lifestyle and fun to be had onboard cruise ships. It's an escape from your daily life, and people that love to cruise always talk about how enjoyable it is to finally get back onboard.

So how could you squeeze in another cruise to your schedule?

When I first started going on cruises, I took a cruise around once per year, and then found a way to get two cruises in the same year and it felt like I won the lottery because how excited I felt to be able to go twice.

Then two cruises became three, and the rest is history.

Zip line ride

In looking back on how my cruising career evolved, there were at least a few strategies for working in more cruises.

If you want to add one extra cruise into your schedule this year, here are some of the ways I've found to make the "vacation math" add up in your favor.

Short cruises are your friend

Freedom of the Seas aerial drone

The easiest way to add another cruise this year is to hop on a short sailing.

Short cruises, especially weekend cruises, are the most convenient to sail on because most of the time onboard takes place over a weekend when you already have time off work or school.

Read moreWhy taking a weekend cruise is a great escape

Mariner of the Seas docked in CocoCay

Even if you pick a cruise that goes over weekdays, a shorter cruise means less time away from your obligations at home. That usually is an easier path towards being able to get away.

Short cruises are also likely to cost you less in total compared to longer cruises.

Read moreIs it worth it to book a short 3-night cruise?

Oasis Lagoon pool

While the per-night rate may not be cheaper, usually 3- and 4-night cruises are going to cost less in total compared to a 7-night cruise.

Whether you are trying to afford another cruise financially or from your vacation schedule, a short cruise is likely going to work better for you.

Read moreShould I take a short or a long cruise?

Look for built in days off

Desk calendar

When I started cruising more, I began by using the calendar to my advantage.

Regardless of the length of cruise you take, time off from work and school is tough to manage. Vacation days are hard to come by because they are limited, so you'll want to maximize any time you request away from home.

One easy strategy is to leverage built-in days off.

Holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Independence Day are times when schools and companies provide time away automatically.

Of course, you're likely to find higher prices for these popular times of the year to cruise.

Kids in the pool on Freedom of the Seas

Another strategy is to look for an extra day off in the week from holidays such as:

  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Labor Day
  • Teacher development days

A long weekend with one extra day off was the key for me maximizing my vacation schedule.  Taking 4 days of PTO for a 7-night cruise meant I had one extra vacation day to use to see family later in the year. Or it meant I could then afford to take a 3-night cruise in addition to that 7-night cruise.

Check last-minute deal offerings

Aerial of Freedom of the Seas

Even if you have the time for another cruise this year, maybe the cost is holding you back.

While they are getting rarer than ever, a last-minute cruise deal could be the key to getting you back to sea again.

The good news is there are last-minute cruises you can book, but the bad news is you're going to have to work to find them. And if you do find them, book them quickly.

Oasis Class ship docked in Nassau

There are a few different strategies for how to find a last-minute cruise. Depending on your luck, one of these could work one time and another be the secret to success another time.

  • Randomly checking the Royal Caribbean website
  • Going, Going, Gone rates
  • Cruise price aggregator websites
  • Word of mouth

The first place I look is Royal Caribbean's Going, Going, Gone sheet. It's usually updated on Tuesday afternoons, but sometimes it gets updated on Monday.

Keep in mind the rates may be available before they publish so if someone stumbles across them as a deal they can be consumed before they publish the weekly document.  In some cases there may be only one or a few cabins at the advertised rate.  

It doesn't work every time, but I've had some success with it.

Consider sharing a cabin

Couple on deck

If money is holding you back from going on another cruise this year, you might look to bring a friend or family member to shoulder the financial burden.

Trying to do another cruise with you footing the bill is tough, but if you can split the cost, it can really make a difference.

Certainly family members are the first place to look for a roommate, and then close friends.


If you can convince someone else to cruise with you, the out of pocket cost for you could come down a lot.

If that doesn't work, you could reach out to friends and acquaintances you know. Just keep in mind, everyone's friendly until it's 2am and someone starts snoring.  Or one person gets up at dawn and the other thinks noon is early.  Set ground rules early so it's clear what to expect.

Find a cruise from a less popular cruise port

Serenade of the Seas in Tampa

Generally speaking, I've found lower prices on cruises that sail from ports that aren't the most popular cruise embarkation ports.

Examples include:

  • Tampa, Florida
  • Galveston, Texas
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Los Angeles, California
  • New Orleans, Louisiana

The cost of a cruise from one of these ports will probably cost you less than other ports, and that usually has to do with the ships sailing from them.

Royal Caribbean's older and smaller ships usually frequent these ports (although Galveston is starting to get newer and bigger ships), and that can lead to a good price on a cruise.

Work remotely

Liberty of the Seas

You might consider combining work and pleasure by choosing to work from your cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean's onboard internet access is better than it has been, although admittedly I've had some sailings where it's been downright awful.  Nonetheless, the cruise ship wifi usually works well enough to do handle email, messaging, and basic uploads and downloads.

Video meetings are very hit or miss and depends on how well the satellite internet is working that day and time.

Read moreCan you work remotely from a cruise ship? I put it to the test

Working remote on a laptop from a cruise ship

One way to safeguard yourself is to pick a port intensive itinerary where you can fall back to cellular coverage. A 7-night cruise with 4 or 5 port stops ensures you'll likely have a good back up.

Working remotely from a cruise ship sounds like a great idea because you can do you work from the ship during the day, and enjoy evenings aboard. Toss in a random day off in the middle, and you have a nice balance.

Besides the satellite internet being temperamental, I found the biggest stumbling block with working from a cruise ship is how to mentally handle it.

Ovation of the Seas in Hubbard glacier

Oh, and never try to work remote on an Alaska cruise. The far north latitudes combined with mountainous surroundings wreaks havoc on the ship's wifi connection.

When you're sitting in your cabin working while everyone else on the ship is out enjoying a raucous good time, it feels like you're the only kid at school when everyone else is on break. That may be a tougher pill to swallow than you might think.

Still, if you can work from the ship and not burn vacation time, it could be a great compromise for squeezing in another cruise this year.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - Top questions about saving money on a cruise

13 Jul 2023

Listen to the Show

I'm answering the most common questions about how to save money on a cruise on this week's episode!

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:

The costly cruising mistake newbies make planning their first cruise

07 Jun 2023

It's one thing to make a mistake on your cruise, but it's quite another if that mistake ends up costing you a lot of money too.

Liberty of the Seas sailing away from Port Everglades

No one wants to make a mistake, but a costly mistake hurts much worse than a mistake that is simply a lesson learned.

On a cruise in 2019, I booked a last-minute hotel in Nassau, Bahamas because I thought it was a great rate at the popular Baha Mar resort.  It turned out to be a very similarly named hotel nearby, and without access to the incredible resort I thought I was going to.  Since it was non-refundable, I wasted a lot of money on that mistake.

While that mistake hurt my wallet, there are worse mistakes a new cruiser could make, such as putting their entire cruise vacation investment in jeopardy.

Oasis of the Seas turning basin

That got me thinking about the absolute worst mistake someone could make that would cost them the most money if they did it.

I wanted to narrow down the options to something someone could choose to do and think it was a good idea, as opposed to something more subjective. Certainly a Royal Caribbean drink package you never order any drinks for would be costly, but that depends on the person.

In considering the costliest cruise mistake possible, it would have to be something that puts your entire vacation cost at risk.

Booking a flight the same day the cruise ship departs

Fort Lauderdale airport

In considering the possible negative financial ramifications along with the probability of it happening, it's clear to me booking your flight the same day your cruise is set to begin is arguably the costliest mistake.

For a land vacation, anyone would book a flight for to arrive in the city they'll be staying in on the same day of their first night of their hotel stay.  That makes perfect logical sense for a land trip, but it's counterintuitive for a cruise vacation.

Essentially, you're playing with fire by relying on your flight to be on time and not impacted by the typical delays and cancellations the air travel industry encounters often.

Cancelled flights

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

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

The embarkation window on the first day of your cruise is limited, and if you arrive too late, you'll miss your cruise and there's no refunds for a no-show.

That means your entire cruise fare will be lost.

Mariner of the Seas sailing away

Not only can you not board a cruise ship late, the cut-off time for embarkation is actually a lot earlier than the sail-away time.

Even if you book an early flight, there's no guarantee that flight wont encounter a problem that results in getting you to your destination too late to make the ship.

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

Airplane in airport

The way to guard against this problem is to book a flight that gets you to your embarkation city at least one day before your cruise sets sail.

By flying in a day early, if your flight is delayed or cancelled, you have another day to make a flight, and the chances of a catastrophic delay happening twice in a row is unlikely.

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

What if I book my flights with the cruise line?

You might think by booking your flight with Royal Caribbean's Air2Sea program, you'll be safe if your flight is delayed because the ship will wait for anyone that booked flights with the cruise line.

This is actually a misconception, because even if you arrive late on a flight booked through the cruise line, the ship still will sail without you.

JFK airport

Instead, Royal Caribbean will assist in getting to the ship at another port. That doesn't account for the time you miss onboard the ship.

"The Emergency Travel team will work with you to find alternative flights. In some instances, same day viable flight options may not be available, and in those instances we accommodate you to the next available port where you may legally join the ship."

Note the word "legally" in the Air2Sea policy, because you may not be allowed to join the ship in the next port.

Jewel of the Seas in Portland

The United States (and other countries) have cabotage laws that prevent foreign-flagged ships to pick up and drop off passengers in any port.

Foreign flagged cruise ships (which are all of Royal Caribbean's ships) are required to make a stop in a foreign port when sailing roundtrip from the United States.

The law is part of the Passenger Vessel Service Act (PVSA) of 1886 is to protect the U.S. Merchant Marine (the licensed (officers) and documented (trades) personnel on the ships) and to protect U.S. shipyards that both build and repair the ships.

In layman's terms, this means Royal Caribbean cannot let you join a ship at a U.S. port if you later will be disembarking at a different U.S. port unless a visit to a distant port such as Aruba is on the itinerary.  

Who to call if you have a problem getting to the ship on embarkation day?

Cruise ship docked in Miami

Royal Caribbean has a phone number for emergencies on the day you are set to cruise.

If your travel plans are disrupted and you're unable to make the cruise, you can call Royal Caribbean's Day of Sailing helpline at 800-256-6649 or 305-539-4107 (Int'l).

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