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Royal Caribbean cruises in November 2021: What to expect

In:
01 Nov 2021

Time is running out of 2021, but there are going to be plenty of cruises in November to look forward to before the month ends.

November marks the beginning of the peak Caribbean cruise season, and two more Royal Caribbean cruise ships will be able to restart cruises this month.

Hopefully this article shares with you what you need to know about going on a Royal Caribbean cruise in the month of November, with important news, tips, and helpful information along the way.

November is a month dichotomies: the first half of the month is traditionally a less in-demand time to cruise, with some great cruise deals to be found, while the second half of the month transitions into higher demand with the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Nonetheless, there can be excellent deals to be found, even at the last minute.

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November is also the very end of hurricane season in the Caribbean.  Technically, hurricane season ends on November 30, so there is still a chance of a tropical disturbance impacting your sailing. Storms this late in the season are rarer, but not unheard of, so keep tracking storms leading up to your sailing.

Ships sailing in November 2021

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Two more Royal Caribbean cruise ships return to service in November, although Ovation of the Seas is back out of service again due to the cancellation of the Australian cruise season.

  • Freedom of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Jewel of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Odyssey of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Allure of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Symphony of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Independence of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Harmony of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Oasis of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Liberty of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Serenade of the Seas from Tampa, Florida
  • Adventure of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Explorer of the Seas from San Juan, Puerto Rico (beginning November 7)
  • Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles, California (beginning November 19)
  • Quantum of the Seas from Singapore

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Without a doubt, the major change is two ports will see cruises return. San Juan will have Explorer of the Seas call her home when she offers seven-night sailings, stopping in San Juan; St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI); St Croix, USVI; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Castries, St Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Basseterre, St. Kitts; and returning to disembark back in San Juan.

Royal Caribbean is especially excited to bring a cruise ship back to Los Angeles, marking the company's return to the west coast for over a decade.

Royal Caribbean will offer 3-, 4- and 5-night itineraries to Catalina Island, California and Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – plus, select winter holiday 7-night sailings.

Health protocols for November 2021 cruises

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Royal Caribbean released its November cruise protocols just last week, and there is not much change at all from the October protocols.

Royal Caribbean requires all passengers 12 years old and older to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination at check-in.

Guests under 12, who are currently ineligible for the vaccine, can still cruise as long as they continue to provide a negative test result at boarding and follow certain health and safety protocols.

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All passengers must also get a negative Covid-19 test completed before the cruise. The test can be either a PCR or antigen test. Vaccinated guests can get their test done up to 2 days before sailing, while unvaccinated kids can get their test done up to 3 days before the sailing.

Masks are required in the terminal, in select locations inside the ship, and may be required at various destinations. Guests under 2 years old don’t need a mask. 

One notable change is for cruises sailing from Puerto Rico, where you may need to provide a negative test result if flying to Puerto Rico before your cruise.

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Another change is the requirement for all cruise passengers, regardless of vaccination, to book a Royal Caribbean shore excursion at select islands in order to disembark the ship:

  • St. Lucia (November visits)
  • Barbados (November visits)
  • St. Kitts (November visits)

Antigua was on this list initially, but it was removed.

Families traveling with unvaccinated kids must purchase a local tour through Royal Caribbean if they wish to go ashore in ports of call. This applies to all ports of call except Perfect Day at CocoCay, and Port Canaveral, Florida.

Everyone should review the full list of protocols related to where and when you need to wear a mask, vaccinated-only guest areas of the ship, and more on Royal Caribbean's website.

November weather on a cruise

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While it may start getting chilly where you live, temperatures in the Caribbean remain steady, with a range in the 70s-80s.

The end of the rainy season comes in November, so storms are not unheard of, especially since hurricane season does not end until the end of the month.

According to data from NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, for the years from 1851 to 2018, 47 total hurricanes have formed in November and only five of those made landfall in the United States.

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Of course, Mother Nature does not follow a calendar, so there are no guarantees when bad weather could or could not occur.

Just like other times of the summer and fall, your best bet is to assume a passing shower or storm, but not an all-day rain out. Packing a poncho or rain coat/windbreaker would allow you to quickly adapt to a storm. 

Thanksgiving on Royal Caribbean

If your cruise happens to sail over the Thanksgiving holiday, you can expect the celebration to extend onboard as well.

Royal Caribbean gets into the spirit of the holiday with fall color decorations around the ship on Thanksgiving sailings, and even a few special events such as Thanksgiving trivia games, and special cocktails.

Of course, there will be plenty of turkey offerings. The main dining room menu will have its regular menu, as well as a special Thanksgiving menu you can order from that has the traditional foods available.

Football games will be available to watch in the bars and screens around the ship.

And in case you are wondering, Christmas decorations start going up around this time, but it varies by ship.  Some ships don't start putting them up until after Thanksgiving.  This can vary by ship and year-to-year.  Some ships doing early December. 

How to plan a Royal Caribbean cruise on any budget

In:
25 Oct 2021

Just like with airfare and hotels, a cruise vacation can be done on any budget. From picking a stateroom to dining onboard and exploring a port, a Royal Caribbean cruise offers options that fit every budget.

Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for how to plan a memorable cruise vacation on a low, moderate, and high budget.

Low Budget

It is entirely possible to go on a Royal Caribbean Cruise with a tight budget. While Royal Caribbean offers plenty of opportunities to enhance a cruise experience with specialty dining, shore excursions, and onboard activities, there is more than enough included in the cruise fare to have a wonderful vacation without blowing your budget.

Stateroom Selection

If you’re planning a low-budget cruise, you will most likely be booking in an interior stateroom. Located within the interior hallways of the ship, these rooms lack a window or balcony. Thus, an interior stateroom is nearly always the cheapest type available for a particular sailing.

With no window, no balcony, and total darkness at night, an interior stateroom must be pretty grim, right? Not necessarily.

Interior staterooms offer many of the same amenities as other stateroom types, such as a TV, private bathroom, desk, mini fridge, and a chair or couch. Interior staterooms, especially on newer ships, tend to be spacious and have plenty of storage options as well. Some interior staterooms even have virtual balconies, allowing guests to watch a live feed of the ship through a large screen on the wall.

Plus, there is so much to do onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise that many guests find they don’t spend as much time in their room as they thought they would!

Therefore, staying in an interior stateroom can be a great way to save money and it is usually the best bet on a low budget. However, Royal Caribbean’s pricing changes constantly and you may be able to score a good deal on an upgraded room.

Let’s take this 5-night Mariner of the Seas sailing, for example.

An interior room is priced at $248/pp, an outside view at $286/pp, and a balcony at $338/pp. With only a $90 difference between an interior and a balcony, it might be worth it to stretch your budget.

On the ship

The majority of dining options and activities onboard a Royal Caribbean ship are complimentary. So if you’re on a tight budget, there is no need to spend extra money onboard.

Before your cruise, be sure to look up what dining options are available on your particular ship. All ships will offer the complimentary Main Dining Room and Windjammer Cafe, but other dining options can differ.

Depending on the ship, you may have other complimentary options such as the Solarium Bistro, El Loco Fresh, Sorrento’s, Park Cafe, and Cafe at Two70, among others.

If you are hoping to try one of Royal Caribbean’s specialty restaurants but are worried about the cost, try eating there for lunch! Many specialty restaurants onboard offer the same menu options for lunch and dinner, but lunch comes at around half the cost of dinner.

Just like dining, the majority of activities onboard are also complementary. Whether bumper cars, the gym, broadway shows, rock climbing, ice skating, waterslides, trivia, or surfing on the FlowRider, there is no shortage of fun and free activities to keep you busy onboard.

Keep a look out for activities that have both a complimentary and extra-fee option. RipCord by iFLY, for example, has a 1-minute complimentary flight experience and a 2-minute paid flight experience. The North Star generally has shorter ride options that are complementary as well as “premium” options that can run anywhere from $30-50.

To score a complimentary reservation, it is important to reserve the activity as soon as possible on the Royal Caribbean app once onboard. Most guests are looking to reserve the complimentary option of these activities, so the reservations can fill up fast. Be sure to open the Royal Caribbean app the first day of your cruise so you can reserve these activities without breaking your budget.

At port

While it is doable to maintain a strict budget while onboard, what about when you’re in port?

Whether a tropical island in the Caribbean or a historic mining town in Alaska, disembarking a cruise ship means it is time to explore an amazing destination. That often means spending money on ground transportation, activities, and food. With a little research and preparation, though, it is possible to explore a port without breaking the bank.

Before your cruise, do a little research into free activities in port. Find out which beaches are free, what hikes are nearby, and what historical monuments or museums are available at a low cost. Some destinations are simply so quaint to explore that just walking around the town can be a great way to spend a few hours at no extra cost.

Spending extra money on food in port can also be a concern. If the ship docks close enough to the main part of town, you can technically embark  the ship for lunch before heading back out to explore the port. However, since food is such an integral part of experiencing a culture or destination, I would recommend setting aside a small part of your budget to try local cuisine instead.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

An itinerary that includes Perfect Day at CocoCay is a great choice for budget cruisers. At Royal Caribbean’s private island, it is entirely possible to disembark the ship, enjoy a beautiful day on the island, and get back onboard without spending a penny.

CocoCay includes many complimentary dining options, such as Chill Grill and Snack Shack, where guests can enjoy a variety of food like burgers and fries, chicken sandwiches, salads, tacos, ice cream, and more.

And while the island offers many upcharge activities like the Coco Beach Club, Thrill Waterpark, and cabana rentals, the majority of the island can be enjoyed at no extra cost. Spending the day at Oasis Lagoon or lounging at Chill Beach is the perfect budget-friendly day in port.

Moderate Budget

Cruising on a moderate budget allows you the chance to try dining, activities, and excursions that you may not be able to do on a low budget. If you’re not counting every penny but also don’t want to blow your entire savings, here are a few ideas on how to plan your cruise.

Stateroom Selection

If you’re hoping to splurge a little on a stateroom, but not to the extent of a suite, a balcony room is a great option while cruising on a moderate budget. Balcony rooms offer a private place to enjoy the incredible views you are sure to experience on a cruise vacation.

There are a few types of balcony rooms available to book on Royal Caribbean ships. The standard balcony has a picture-perfect ocean view with a table and two chairs outside.

Oasis Class ships offer Central Park and Boardwalk balconies. These balconies do not always have a view of the ocean, but are a great option for those looking to try something different. With these balconies, guests can spend the day relaxing, listening to live music, and watching everything going on below.

The last type of balcony offered is an obstructed view balcony. These balcony rooms are the same size as a standard balcony, but there is something outside obstructing the view of the ocean. Usually a lifeboat or a piece of the ship's design, the views of the ocean can be slightly or severely obstructed. Because of this, these rooms usually come at a lower cost.

On the ship

Having a little more leeway in your vacation budget gives you more options for things to do and eat onboard. 

A great option for those looking for an enhanced dining experience on a moderate budget is the 3 Night Dining Package, which allows guests to eat at three specialty restaurants onboard. The price for this package is quite reasonable, coming in around $110.

This is a great option for guests looking to have a mix of specialty and complimentary dining. From homemade pasta at Giovanni’s to hibachi at Izumi, Royal Caribbean’s specialty restaurants are really good and offer extremely diverse cuisine.

A moderate budget can also allow for the opportunity to try out upcharge activities onboard. Several ships offer an escape room which comes at a cost of around $20-25 per person. There is also the new Zone Zero onboard Odyssey of the Seas, where guests can make their way through a virtual reality experience for a cost of $18 per person.

Other upcharge activities onboard include the arcade, FlowRider lessons, premium North Star experiences, and longer RipCord by iFLY flight times.

You may also choose to splurge a bit and treat yourself to a moderately-priced treatment at the Vitality Spa or try out a class in the fitness center. Or perhaps try a sushi making class at Izumi or reserve a backstage tour of the ship.

At port

While it is nice to explore a new island or town on your own, with a moderate budget, you can enjoy a destination without worrying too much about the costs you will encounter at port.

You can dive deeper into a port through activities such as a shore excursion, all-inclusive day club, or a cabana/equipment rental. 

Royal Caribbean offers plenty of shore excursion opportunities in every port of call and for all ages and fitness levels. Excursions are available to purchase on the Cruise Planner website prior to the sailing, and they can also be purchased onboard at the Shore Excursions Desk.

Another popular option is to spend the day at a nearby beach club. For a flat fee, these all-inclusive day clubs include food, drinks, and a private beach. Nachi Cocom in Cozumel and Maya Chan in Costa Maya are two examples of all-inclusives that you can enjoy during your day in port.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

Perfect Day at CocoCay offers many enhanced experiences that are attainable with a moderate budget.

If you are traveling with kids or looking for an adrenaline-filled day, Thrill Waterpark is a great option. With costs usually ranging between $70-90, the waterpark features a wave pool, an adventure pool, and the tallest waterslide in North America.

CocoCay also offers equipment rentals for kayaks, snorkel gear, and jet skis for those hoping to get into the water. A few activities on the island, such as the zipline and the Up, Up and Away helium balloon ride also come at an extra cost.

Another upgraded venue at CocoCay is the Coco Beach Club. Guests at the Coco Beach Club can enjoy a private beach, infinity pool, private lounging area, and a delightful meal at the Coco Beach Club Restaurant. The beach club has a limited capacity, ensuring that the area remains tranquil for guests looking for a more enhanced beach experience. Costs for the Coco Beach Club vary, but often range from $80-180 for a full day pass.

High Budget

If you're looking to splurge at sea and have the vacation of your dreams, get ready for a once in a lifetime cruise experience. Cruising on a high budget offers the most flexibility in terms of dining options, shore excursions, and premium treatment onboard. 

Stateroom Selection

Forget interior rooms. If you’re looking to splurge, book a suite! Suites offer a more upgraded experience in your stateroom and range from offering solely extra living space to full-fledged luxury.

Junior Suites are the most affordable type of suite onboard, which have an extra large balcony and increased living space. However, they don’t include the same perks that guests will receive staying in a regular suite.

Regular suites include extra living space as well as perks like priority boarding, concierge service, and deluxe amenities. Some suites have multiple bedrooms which can be a nice perk when traveling with kids or in a larger group.

The Royal Suite Class, available on Oasis and Quantum Class ships, takes the suite experience to another level. It has three tiers: Sea Class, Sky Class, and Star Class. Each comes with benefits like a dedicated check in line, priority boarding, and dinner at Coastal Kitchen.

Star Class, the highest tier, includes complimentary specialty dining, a complimentary deluxe beverage package, and even a Royal Genie who acts as your own personal concierge onboard.

Staying in a suite is a fantastic way to add a touch of luxury to your vacation, and Royal Caribbean is constantly working to enhance the cruise experience for suite guests. Wonder of the Seas, the newest ship in the fleet, will even feature a brand new Suite Neighborhood. The Suite Neighborhood is dedicated only to suite guests and will feature its own pool, bar, seating, Coastal Kitchen, and the Suite Lounge.

Onboard

The majority of the Royal Caribbean experience onboard is included in the cruise fare. However, there are a few ways to enhance your vacation even more.

If you’re traveling for a special occasion, such as an anniversary or birthday, make your travel companion feel extra special the moment they walk into the stateroom for the first time. Royal Caribbean offers the option of having your stateroom decorated for a special occasion and having special treats, like birthday cake or champagne, in the stateroom when you arrive. These options are available to purchase in advance of your sailing on the Cruise Planner website.

As far as dining and drinking onboard, don't hesitate to book the Unlimited Dining Package and the Deluxe Beverage Package. With both of these packages, you will be free to eat and drink wherever and whenever you want. Depending on the ship and sailing length, this will allow you to try a brand new specialty restaurant each night of your cruise.

One extra dining experience you may want to book is Chef’s Table. Coming in around $100 per guest, Chef’s Table is an intimate dining experience pairing the chef’s course selection with fine wine selected by a sommelier. As a relaxed, 2-3 hour dinner, Chef’s Table allows you opportune time to enjoy an elegant meal onboard.

With a high budget, you may also be interested in checking out all the treatments offered at Vitality Spa. A great way to do this is to visit the spa on the first day of your cruise and ask for a tour. One of the crew members will take you on a tour of the spa and discuss what treatment options are available and best for you.

At Port

Just like onboard, Royal Caribbean offers a variety of ways to enhance your cruise experience while in port.

Royal Caribbean has several “premium” shore excursion experiences, which tend to cost more than the average excursion. In Alaska, for example, guests can book a helicopter ride that travels above Mendenhall Glacier before landing on the glacier and allowing guests to walk on the ice. While not cheap, traveling with a higher budget can give you the financial flexibility to book an excursion of this caliber.

If you’re looking for a private shore excursion option, book a tour with Royal Caribbean’s Private Journeys. With Private Journeys, guests have an exclusive and personalized shore experience planned by Royal Caribbean's Destination Insiders. With Private Journeys, you can sightsee at your own pace and without the hassle of a large group tour. In addition, since it is booked through Royal Caribbean, there are no worries of missing the ship if the tour runs late.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

You don't have to visit the Maldives to have an extravagant beach day. At Perfect Day at CocoCay, there are several full-day cabana rental options available to enjoy. The most exclusive are the floating cabanas at the Coco Beach Club.

The Coco Beach Club offers a total of twenty floating cabanas that, as the name implies, “float” over the island’s crystal clear water. Each cabana has a lounging area with comfy furniture, dining table, freshwater shower, mini fridge, padded pool chairs, a slide, a hammock, and outlets. In addition, a cabana gives guests access to the Coco Beach Club itself, including the excellent lunch offerings at the Coco Beach Club restaurant.

Guests can enjoy this meal at the restaurant itself or from the comfort of the floating cabana.

The cabanas come at a premium, though, with costs reaching up to $1800 for a day rental. However, since each cabana has a capacity of eight guests (with the possibility of adding two more), the cost is not as much of a sticker shock when you split it up.

Overview

By evaluating how much money you are willing to spend on a cruise vacation, you can plan a Royal Caribbean cruise to meet your specific needs.

Ultimately, whichever stateroom, dining choices, onboard activities, or shore excursions you choose, a cruise is sure to create unforgettable memories for all those onboard.

What to Wear on a Cruise?

In:
15 Oct 2021

I’m a little over a month out before my next cruise, and while it’s a little early to start packing (is it though?), it’s time to go through my list and make sure I have everything I need. If not, it’s off to Amazon to pick up any items that need refreshed.

Because we are headed to the Eastern Caribbean on Symphony of the Seas, we are preparing for a hot weather cruise, and I thought we could do a little “pack along” while I get ready.

I like to find pieces that can be multi-function. Comfort is a key factor too, and space on a cruise is minimal. I’m choosing clothes that don’t take a lot of space in my suitcase, and that I can wear with neutral, comfortable shoes. You also want things that aren’t going to wrinkle easily. Linen is lovely and cool, but I don’t want to spend my whole vacation ironing. Nor can I take a pair of shoes for each night. Keep it simple.

Sea Days

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Swimsuits, coverups, and loungewear are the name of the game for Sea Days. I’m either going to be laying by the pool with a book, or hitting up Schooner’s for some trivia. Nothing fancy here, just looking for outfits I can easily go in and out with.

I generally pack two swimsuits:  a bikini and a one-piece; for a bit of variety, and while one is drying, I can wear the other. These are the two I’ve purchased recently, but I’ve also had luck at Torrid and TJ Maxx.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve become obsessed with jumpsuits and rompers this year. They are so comfy and easy to manage! This one I already have in black but may pick up in a few more colors for the ship:

I’ve gotten most of my coverups from Zulily--they constantly have sales on cute graphic dresses, and while shipping takes a little while, I definitely recommend them. They make it so easy to transition from pool to lunch and back again!

Excursions

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The key to any excursion wardrobe is comfort.

Whether you are planning a pub crawl or some kind of tour, port days almost always require some kind of walking, if only to get from the ship to sand. Heeled sandals are not your friends here.

Wear comfortable shoes, I’d recommend sneakers if you’re going to be doing any kind of tour. Flip flops are popular for Caribbean destinations, but not always the wisest choice when walking long distances.

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Also, dress for hot and humid weather. Those of us in cold climates are used to layering, but you’re not going to need that jacket, and it’s just one more thing to carry.

Wear something loose that won’t rub with the amount of walking you’re going to do. Ladies, dresses with chafing shorts underneath is a fantastic idea! 

These shorts are terrific for tour + beach excursions. Comfy to walk in, and you can pull them over a wet suit for your trip back to the ship!

I’ll also probably default back to a comfy romper, or just jean shorts and a graphic tank. Anything I can walk comfortably in.

Beach Days

Water shoes are also a good choice--especially for Labadee, where it is rocky! We’ve used both these options and we like them both, though the sturdier mesh ones definitely held up better against the sharp rocks in Haiti. They would also be good for some of the Jamaica excursions where you’re going down river.

I am of the very pale skin variety of human, so keeping the sun off is a MUST. I have a similar hat to this one, and except on the windiest of days, it goes with me everywhere:

Dinner & Nightlife

Royal Caribbean Blog - Unofficial blog about Royal Caribbean cruises

Gone are the days of TRUE formal nights, though some cruisers do still get dolled up in tuxedos and gowns. You won’t be out of place if you want to go all out. However, most passengers are much more casual. The MDR and specialty restaurants are business casual preferred, but as long as you don’t show up in a swimsuit and flipflops, you’ll mostly be ok. 

We mostly dine in the MDR, and unless it is Formal Night, you’ll find me in a sundress or jumpsuit. On Formal Night, I have a bit of a Calvin Klein addiction, and TJ Maxx always has their dresses cheap cheap! CK’s fabric is a little heavy, but it also doesn’t wrinkle, no matter how balled up it gets in a suitcase. It’s simple, flattering, and can pair with just about any kind of shoe.

Gwynnie Bee is another places I usually go for cruise dresses. This service allows you to borrow dresses for as long as you like, then return for more. It’s a great way to borrow something that you don’t have in your closet already for that special Formal Night!

Finally, get yourself a good pair of neutral flats that go with anything. I’ll be wearing these Chinese Laundry D’Orsay flats around the ship.

I hope this was helpful! Getting ready for a cruise is always a little stressful, and we want to look our best. But remember, the key is to balance comfort with function. Space is minimal, so try to find looks that can do multiple things. 

What are you favorite fashion items to pack? Any must haves?

Read moreThe best packing for a cruise list

The best packing for a cruise list

In:
14 Oct 2021

There are so many fun things to do on a cruise, the sun, the beach, and great excursions. How to pack for all of them? This list breaks down packing into 4 steps, to ensure everything makes it on onboard.

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For luggage, Royal Caribbean does not have a specific limit on the number of suitcases. This will be guided by transportation options, especially flying, which has restrictions on both the size and weight of bags.

Use an easily portable carry-on to store all required documents, cash, and valuables. Once on the ship, luggage will be delivered within a couple of hours, so make sure to have everything on hand, such as flip flops and swimwear.

There are a few prohibited items to leave at home.  Most notably, irons, baby monitors, electrical cords, beer, and hard liquor.

Clothes and accessories  

Family | Royal Caribbean Blog

How many outfits to pack? That depends on the length and type of cruise. There are no self-service laundry facilities onboard. Washing, pressing, and dry cleaning services are offered (prices vary per item). It is best to plan clothes for the number of days plus a return home outfit. Two outfits per day is a good rule of thumb (day and night).

For general daywear pack:

  • Clothes for lounging and the pool - tees and tank tops, shorts, sundresses, swimwear, and cover ups.
  • Sun hat, flip flops, sandals, running /walking shoes
  • Jeans and pants
  • Packing cubes and magnetic hooks can be helpful in organizing clothes
  • Make sure to bring the right shoes for onboard activities, such as the all-access ship tour, zip-lining, and rock climbing which require closed-toe shoes. Don’t forget socks!

5 questions about what to wear on a Royal Caribbean cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

For evening events, the dress code varies, but cruisers are less formal than they use to be. Many guests wear “Smart Casual” for formal night, Royal Caribbean’s website explains the dress code to help with packing for evening wear.

  • “Smart Casual: Think of this as a step up from your typical dinner wear. Dress to impress with collared shirts, dresses, skirts, and blouses, or pantsuits. Jackets, sports coats, and blazers are snazzy and welcomed. 
  • Formal: Make it a night out in your best black-tie look – suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses, or evening gowns.”
  • Also pack for fun theme nights, such as the White Party, 70s or 80s nights. This can differ by ship, but a previous Cruise Compass will indicate what can be expected.

Read moreWhat to Wear on a Cruise?

Ports & excursions

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For those who love camouflage clothing, it is important to note that it is illegal in some Caribbean countries, such as Jamaica, Barbados, and St. Lucia (it is reserved for military use). Some non-camo options should be included when packing.

For general water/ beach outings consider:

  • Water shoes, mask, goggle, snorkel
  • Life jackets /flotation device (especially for children)
  • Water-proof phone carrier
  • Towel clips (the ship provides towels)

The cruise planner will list important details for excursions. For example, in Rome, there is no access to St. Peter’s Basilica with exposed shoulders or knees (common for churches in the region). It Is good to keep valuables safe when venturing out in ports. Cross-body bags with secure locks or a money belt are good options.

Toiletries / General  

Toiletries provided in Grand Suites on Mariner - Royal Caribbean Discussion - Royal Caribbean Blog

Sea sickness is bothersome for some. Gravol, bands, and patches are all popular remedies. A local pharmacist can assist in explaining the differences between these options.

For those sun-soaked days, sunscreen is a must. Take note when traveling to St Thomas Aruba or Hawaii, that they require reef-safe sunscreen to help protect the health of their coral reefs. It is readily available in popular drugstores. Also add after-burn care (aloe), lip balm (SPF), and bug spray.

Novice cruiser question re: toiletries. - Royal Caribbean Discussion - Royal Caribbean Blog

The cruise line provides soap and shampoo. Beyond that, bring daily use products for hair, shower, shaving, dental, and eye care. Many travelers find an over the door shoe rack helpful in organizing toiletries. Other considerations:  

  • First aid kit
  • If traveling with younger children, make sure to pack items such as diapers (swim and regular), wipes, rash cream, battery operated night light, bottles, and formula.
  • Diapers can be bulky. For some cruises, there is the option to have diapers delivered, which may help in deciding how much to bring. Check If available for a particular sailing.
  • Ziploc bags are great for anything that may leak   
  • Fan, but must be cordless (can plug into USB)

Valuables / Carry-on

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The last bag to pack is the carry-on. Once the luggage is dropped off at the terminal, this should contain everything needed until the cabin is ready.

Bring everything necessary to travel - ID (passports, driver’s license, proof of vaccines, Covid testing, SetSail paperwork, insurance. Also:

  • Money (small denominations for tips/ foreign currency), credit cards
  • Electronics – phone, tablet, earbuds, charger, camera
  • Required medication (with 3 days extra worth)
  • Eyewear – glasses, sunglasses, contacts
  • Comfort items such as reusable water bottle, gum/ mints/ snacks, wipes.

Taking beverages onboard can be a great money saver, Each stateroom can bring two 750 ml bottles of wine or champagne, as long as one guest is of legal drinking age. Guests can also bring non-alcoholic beverages up to 12 standard (17 oz.) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom. Milk and distilled water brought on for infant, medical, or dietary use are permitted. 

What you need to know about going on a cruise if you're Canadian

In:
01 Oct 2021

Royal Caribbean has returned to sailing, and many Canadians are now planning their winter getaways. In preparation for a cruise from a U.S. port, there are a few key requirements to plan ahead of time.  

The cruise line’s Healthy Sail Centre outlines new Covid related protocols. Requirements for vaccines, mask usage, and excursions are all listed by port of departure.  

Canadians travelling to U.S. ports for their Royal Caribbean sailings need to be aware that flying and cruising testing requirements differ slightly in terms of timelines and the types of tests that are accepted.

There is also new Covid related documentation for entering the U.S. and returning home to Canada.

Pre-Cruise

Do all Royal Caribbean cruises qualify for Cruise with Confidence? | Royal Caribbean Blog

Insurance

Royal Caribbean’s Cruise with Confidence Program provides guests will the ability to cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before their sailing, some added peace of mind for travellers. Beyond this, it is beneficial to purchase out of country travel and medical insurance.

Policies should have enhanced coverage for Covid related costs such as quarantine or hospitalization abroad. Benefits should also include trip interruption or cancellation within 48 hours of sailing.

Vaccinations

Royal Caribbean won't accept mixed vaccines as being fully vaccinated | Royal Caribbean Blog

Last week, Royal Caribbean updated vaccination rules based on new guidance from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Important points:  

  • For sailings departing from the U.S., the CDC now recognizes a mixed series of mRNA vaccines (e.g., 1 shot of Pfizer with 1 shot of Moderna, in any order) as fully vaccinated.
  • The doses must be administered a minimum of 28 days apart.
  • Guests will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after the final dose. 
  • AstraZeneca is not yet authorized by the CDC. For those Canadians who received AstraZeneca and a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, they are not considered fully vaccinated at this time. 

Dr. Teresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, recently announced she has been in discussions with U.S. counterparts to provide support for the approval of AstraZeneca. No time frame for approval has been announced.

Cruisers should carefully review vaccination records provided by the provincial health authority (or approved pharmacy) to ensure all of the criteria have been met. Names and date of birth need to match passports, flights, and cruise bookings and must specify dates of immunization.

Testing

When do you have to take a Covid test before your Royal Caribbean cruise? | Royal Caribbean Blog

As Canadians travel to U.S. ports for their Royal Caribbean sailings, they need to be aware that flying and cruising testing requirements differ slightly.

Testing for flights

Canadians, aged 2 and over, flying to the U.S. must provide a negative Covid test within 3 days of their flight. More specifically, the test must be performed no more than 3 days before the first scheduled departure time in the flight itinerary.

For example, if a traveler’s flight is at 1 pm on a Friday, the traveller could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Tuesday or after.

For flights to the U.S., either an Antigen or PCR test is accepted.

Testing for the cruise  

Royal Caribbean test cruise to Alaska should begin today | Royal Caribbean Blog

For Royal Caribbean, testing is 2 days before the sail date. The day a passenger sets sail is not included as one of the days you count back from. If sailing on a Saturday, the test can be taken on Thursday or Friday.

Vaccination requirements apply to guests 12 and older.

For Royal Caribbean cruises out of the U.S., either an antigen or PCR test is accepted.

Where to test

Several airports in Canada offer on-site testing. Toronto’s Pearson Airport offers a Rapid Antigen Test with results in 30 minutes. Tests can be booked weeks in advance.

Another option is to arrange testing locally. Shoppers Drug Mart and Costco offer testing in many locations.

Air Canada, the nation’s largest domestic airline, has a robust “Travel Ready hub” on its website, which contains detailed information on flying and current protocols. A list of testing locations by province, along with discount codes is provided on the hub.

When do you have to take a Covid test before your Royal Caribbean cruise? | Royal Caribbean Blog

For those spending some extra pre-cruise time in the U.S and need to test nearby, there are numerous options. Popular chains such as Walgreens and CVS offer vaccine testing close to the ports and can be booked up to two weeks in advance.

Unfortunately, the take-home Covid test available for purchase through Royal Caribbean does not ship to Canada.

Required Documentation

Canadian travellers must complete a “Travel Attestation” form before arrival in the U.S. This is a brief form that will be provided by the airline

Embarkation Day

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

Along with the SetSail paperwork, cruisers should have proof of vaccinations readily available.  Ensure this includes full name (as listed on the cruise booking), birthdate, and dates of vaccinations.

It is recommended to have hard copies in addition to electronic records.

Disembarkation Testing

A major benefit to sailing with Royal Caribbean is that they currently provide PCR testing onboard. This can be arranged through Guest Services during the cruise.

To return to Canada, results of a negative PCR test must be presented.  Antigen tests are not accepted for return flights.

Required Documentation

Travellers must complete the required documents on the ArriveCAN app, 72 hours before their arrival in Canada.  It would be best to download this pre-cruise from the app store (Apple, Google Play).

Passengers will be required to provide travel and vaccination details along with proof of a negative Covid test. Once complete, a receipt will be emailed to the applicant for presentation upon re-entry to Canada. Families travelling together may submit one application.

Future Requirements 

Policies and protocols can change daily so it is best to monitor cruise and flight updates regularly.

The Canadian government announced in August, that passengers (of eligible age) must be fully vaccinated to fly.

Similarly, the U.S. government has released plans to only admit international travellers with proof of full vaccination starting in November.

Implementation details have yet to be announced for both policy changes.

Royal Caribbean cruises in October 2021: What to expect

In:
27 Sep 2021

Fall is in the air, but Royal Caribbean cruises in October are still taking you to places that are plenty warm.

There are many Royal Caribbean cruise ships in operation in October, with one ship returning to service and a couple resuming service in a new market.

This post will share important information what you should know before going on a cruise in October. This month we see the end of cruising in Alaska for the season, but there is still time to see Europe before that season comes to an end.  Meanwhile, Caribbean sailings will start to increase with ships returning to start winter itineraries.

Just like September, October is also one of the best times to get a great price on a cruise. The combination of school in session and the peak of hurricane season makes for some really low rates.  In fact, last minute cruise prices are pretty good if you can take advantage of certain October sailings.

Ships sailing in October 2021

CDC warns against worldwide travel on cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

By the end of October, 14 Royal Caribbean cruise ships should be in operation.

  • Freedom of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Anthem of the Seas from Southampton, England
  • Jewel of the Seas from Limassol, Cyprus
  • Odyssey of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Allure of the Seas from Port Canaveral
  • Ovation of the Seas from Seattle, Washington
  • Symphony of the Seas from Miami, Florida
  • Independence of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
  • Harmony of the Seas from Barcelona and Rome
  • Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Oasis of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Liberty of the Seas from Galveston, Texas (beginning October 3)
  • Serenade of the Seas from Tampa, Florida (beginning October 16)
  • Adventure of the Seas from Galveston, Texas (beginning October 29)
  • Quantum of the Seas from Singapore

Liberty of the Seas will resume sailings from Galveston earlier than scheduled in February 2021 | Royal Caribbean Blog

The major change this month is Liberty of the Seas will restart cruises in the beginning of the month from Galveston.

In addition, Serenade moves from Seattle to Tampa, marking the first Royal Caribbean ship to resume cruises from the Port of Tampa. 

Adventure of the Seas wrapped up her summer season in Nassau, Bahamas, and will undergo a quick refurbishment before sailing again from Galveston at the end of the month.

Health protocols for October 2021 cruises

Everything you wanted to know about Liberty of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean's health protocols for October are fairly similar to the protocols from September, although there have been a few tweaks.

Royal Caribbean separated out the protocols for sailings from U.S. homeports in the first half and second half of October, although they seem to be nearly identical.

First and foremost, all passengers 12 years old and older are required to bring proof of vaccination, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 vaccination record card, with the final dose of the vaccine completed at least 14 days prior to sailing.

CDC wants cruise lines to reconsider mask policies on cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

Guests under 12, who are currently ineligible for the vaccine, can still cruise as long as they continue to provide a negative test result at boarding and follow certain health and safety protocols.

One change to the testing protocols is kids 2 to 11 may present either a negative PCR or antigen test result. Previously only a PCR test was allowed.

You should review the full list of protocols related to where and when you need to wear a mask, vaccinated-only guest areas of the ship, and more on Royal Caribbean's website.

October weather on a cruise

Paradise Beach Cozumel 2021 shore excursion review | Royal Caribbean Blog

No matter when you cruise in October in the Caribbean, expect very warm summer-like temperatures.

The first half of October is also the peak of hurricane season, but as the month goes on, the chances of a storm begin to diminish a bit.

According to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, 87 percent of minor and 96 percent of major hurricanes occur between August and October, peaking in early September.

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Cozumel | Royal Caribbean Blog

Even if there is a storm somewhere in the tropics, your ship will go around it to avoid going anywhere near the storm.

The biggest impact you could face on an October cruise is a last-minute itinerary change due to a hurricane.

Read moreWhat to know about cruising during hurricane season in the Caribbean

Review: North Star Alaska Experience on Ovation of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

October is Royal Caribbean's swan song for the Alaska cruise season. Ovation of the Seas has just two sailings before ending her time there.  

This a month of transition from summer to winter weather. If you happen to be on one of those last sailings in Alaska, expect rain. Alaska's rainy season is between September and December.

In addition, expect much less day light in October. That may seem like bad news, until you realize there is a better chance of seeing the luminous green lights of the Aurora Borealis.

One other benefit of October cruises in Alaska is the changing foliage, which can be a real visual treat.

Royal Caribbean releases summer 2017 European itineraries | Royal Caribbean Blog

Over in Europe, fall temperatures means pleasant daytime temperatures in the Mediterranean. While temperatures can heat up over the summer, October weather offers a slight chill in the air and can sometimes be warm enough to take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea.

Expect daytime temperatures in the low 70s Fahrenheit. 

Just like Alaska, plan to wear layers so you can adjust to warmer or colder than expected temperatures easily.

Is October a good time to cruise the Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean CEO gives update on cruise ship restart, Covid on ships, limiting capacity and more | Royal Caribbean Blog

In short, you will find some of the best prices for Caribbean cruises in October.

Because families have kids in school, there is less demand for cruises this time of year. The result can be some excellent rates for a cruise in October.

In addition, the looming threat of hurricane season is a benefit and disadvantage of cruising in October. Demand is lower, so that means you pay less.  But the possibility of a storm impacting your cruise means some cruise fans are unwilling to risk the sailing could be altered.

Does Royal Caribbean celebrate Halloween?

Halloween on Royal Caribbean ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

If your cruise sails over October 31st, you should plan on Halloween fun onboard.

While it remains to be seen how Covid-19 protocols may or may not affect the exact festivities, in years' past Royal Caribbean has held various Halloween events onboard its ships that sail over the holiday.

Costume contests, haunted houses, trick or treating, and even face painting have all been offered in the past.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - What is it like to go on a cruise right now?

In:
22 Sep 2021

Listen to the Show

With cruises back in service for a few months, what should you know about what it's like to go on a cruise ship right now?

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

On this episode:
Running time:

The questions everyone is still asking about going on a cruise in 2021

In:
15 Sep 2021

Royal Caribbean has been back in service for more than 3 months and more than half of its ships have returned, but there are still a few very commonly asked questions about what it is like to go on a cruise.

While cruising is back, there are some changes, and many people who have yet to cruise are trying to get a sense of what it is like to be back onboard.

The good news is the overall experience of being back on a cruise is more similar to what it was like in 2019 than different, but the changes made to ensure guests, crew members, and the communities ships visit remain safe are necessary protocols that do require adjustments to the cruise experience.

In an effort to put some folks minds' at ease, here are answers to the top questions people are still asking about what it is like to go on a cruise right now.

How do you get a negative test in time before the cruise begins?

Royal Caribbean requires all guests bring a negative Covid test with them to their sailing, and the test must be completed no more than 2 days before the cruise begins (3 days for kids under the age of 12), so how do you manage to get this done in time?

The key is planning and knowing which test to get.

For adults, I recommend getting the rapid antigen test, which gets results back in about an hour.  In fact, the at-home test approved by Royal Caribbean is really the easiest and most convenient way to get a test done before your cruise from pretty much anywhere.

If you choose to get a test at a pharmacy, just be sure to plan ahead and make a reservation when new appointment times become available to book. CVS opens their appointments up two weeks in advance, while Walgreens does it 48 hours in advance.

Check out my recommendations for your approach to getting a Covid test before your cruise. Follow this guide and you should have no problem getting a test result back in time for your cruise.

Can I still arrive to the cruise terminal before my check-in time?

Simply put, no.

Royal Caribbean is enforcing check-in times, so plan to arrive no more than 15 minutes before your check-in time. All too often I see large groups of people standing around outside the cruise terminal waiting for their check-in time. Not only is this a waste of your time, but it is uncomfortable since there is no seating and it is quite warm and humid in Florida.

There is an exception for suite guests (and Pinnacle Club members), but the concierge will email you 4-7 days before the cruise to inform you if you have some flexibility with your check-in time.

Instead of standing around the cruise terminal waiting to be let in, grab lunch, see a local sight, or ask for a later check-out from your hotel.

Do you have to wear a mask on the cruise?

This might be the most commonly asked question I get about going on a cruise, and usually people want to know if they have to wear a mask everywhere onboard their cruise.

The answer is, yes, you do have to wear masks while indoors in certain situations, but it is not as bad as it may sound.

Wearing of masks applies to all guests, except for guests under the age of 2 years old, who do not need to wear a mask.

Masks are NOT required to be worn:

  • In open-air areas of the ship, unless you are in a crowded setting
  • In the pool or any activity where they may become wet
  • At venues designated for vaccinated guests only, such as select bars, lounges, restaurants and shows
  • In your stateroom with your traveling party

Masks ARE required to be worn:

  • While indoors in public areas of the ship, unless seated and actively eating or drinking
  • While visiting public ports of call, where local regulations may require them

What is means is you have to wear your mask when you are in public areas, primarily when walking around. As soon as you get to a restaurant, bar, lounge, and/or designated vaccinated area, you can remove your mask.

I thought this comment from RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Dime summed it up well, "Currently onboard the Symphony of the Seas and honestly the protocols aren’t really changing the cruise-feel. The mask mandates aren’t as aggravating as they seem while when you read about them."

What is the capacity right now on cruise ships?

Royal Caribbean is sailing with limited capacity, but has not stated what the capacity is or will be for any of its ships going forward.

The cruise line is not providing any kind of guidance as to how long limited capacity will be in place, nor at what percentage for any of its ships.

The only information we have is when someone onboard a ship reports back the passenger count, and perhaps an estimate from a crew member onboard for the next week.

So assume less than full ships for the time being until further notice.

If my kids are unvaccinated, am I limited to what I can do on the ship?

Freedom of the Seas Live Blog | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you sail with unvaccinated children, your group will be designated as unvaccinated, but that does not mean the vaccinated members of your group will always be treated as such.

When your kids are not with you, you can enjoy vaccinated-only experiences.  So if your kids are in Adventure Ocean, back in the stateroom, or doing things on their own, you could go to vaccinated-only areas of the ships.

The same holds true for shore excursions. If someone in your group is unvaccinated, you will only be able to book tours through Royal Caribbean. However, if they remain on the ship, then the vaccinated group could do a tour on their own.

How much different is disembarkation?

Royal Caribbean Blog - Unofficial blog about Royal Caribbean cruises

The process for leaving the ship on the last morning of the cruise is very similar to what it was like before the cruise industry shutdown, with one key exception.

Guests are now asked to wait in their stateroom, rather than in a public area, while waiting for their luggage number to be called. This is actually a more convenient change, in my opinion.

If you want to walk off the ship with your own luggage, that is still available and you just have to wait for the ship to be cleared.  You will wait in your cabin for that announcement.

Otherwise, the disembarkation process is nearly identical to what it was like before.

This should be your approach to getting a Covid test before your cruise

In:
04 Sep 2021

Royal Caribbean changed the time window guests have to get a Covid test from 3 days to 2 days before embarkation, and that has a lot of guests concerned when they should get their test taken.

Cruise lines did not have much choice in changing the policy after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised their guidelines for cruise lines.

The good news is getting the test done and results back in time is quite doable, but a good plan is critical.

Here is my recommendation for when and how to get your Covid tests complete before your cruise to ensure you can board the ship.

What are the new rules?

It is important to have a good idea of the timeframe Royal Caribbean (and other cruise lines) requires for your test, assuming your ship sails September 13 or beyond.

Vaccinated guests must present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken no more than 2 days prior to sailing in order to board. (Previously, it was 3 days.) 

As of September 15, unvaccinated kids ages 2 to 11 may present either a negative PCR or antigen test result no more than 3 days prior to sailing, but not on boarding day.

There continues to be no testing required for guests under age 2.

Vaccinated adults

For anyone age 12 or older, your best bet is get an antigen test.  Antigen test results come back in usually an hour or so, and quite often less time.

While PCR tests are great, nearly no venue can (or will) guarantee when results will come back so your best bet is to plan on an antigen test.

For simplicity, I would recommend purchasing an at-home test that Royal Caribbean accepts, which is the  Abbott BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test because it is supervised and administered remotely via a video session. 

This at-home test is very easy to use, and you can likely complete the whole process of test and getting results in less than an hour. Not to mention there is no need to seek an appointment at a lab or pharmacy. 

Plus, the at-home tests are great if you live somewhere not close to many testing sites.

Read moreI tried the at-home Covid-19 test that Royal Caribbean accepts

Just complete the test one or two days before embarkation day, and you will have a test result you can print out and bring to the terminal.

Royal Caribbean also sells the exact same at-home test kit, and can be purchased at RoyalCaribbean.com/HomeTestKit.

If you prefer to go somewhere to get a test, CVS is the easiest option. More on CVS with the next group.

Unvaccinated kids

Unvaccinated kids ages 2 to 11 may present either a negative PCR or antigen test result.

Given the choice, you should plan to get your kids an antigen test since the results come back significantly quicker than a PCR test.

Read moreWhen do you have to take a Covid test before your Royal Caribbean cruise?

Unvaccinated people cannot take the at home test, so I recommend scheduling your test at a place like CVS. CVS offers free testing (they will either bill your insurance or the federal government), and they offer advanced reservations.

The critical step with planning a test with CVS is to book a reservation exactly two weeks before you want the test done.

For kids 2-11 years old, if your cruise departs on a Sunday, then you should plan to get the test on the Thursday before your cruise.  Precisely two weeks before that Thursday, you should make a reservation on the CVS website.

Once again, adults have 2 days to get their test result, but kids have 3 days in case they need an extra day for the PCR test results to come back in time.

When do you have to take a Covid test before your Royal Caribbean cruise? | Royal Caribbean Blog

In my experience, if you book your test with CVS exactly two weeks in advance, I have not had issues getting an appointment.

As a back up, Walgreens offer tests in advance too, but they only allow reservations to be made 2 days early, so plan to book an appointment 48 hours before you need it.

Walgreens releases their appointments at midnight, a day at a time.

10 Tips to save you time on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
31 Aug 2021

The saying "time is money" applies to business, as well as your Royal Caribbean cruise vacation. Every minute you save now, is an extra minute of vacation time you get to enjoy unencumbered.

One of my top pet peeves is wasting time that could have been saved with a little work upfront, especially if it's time spent at home so that things move smoothly onboard.

Whether it saves you two minutes or ten minutes, it all adds up and time saved also reduces stress.  I love the feeling of knowing I bypassed what would have otherwise caused me to wait longer. It's like driving in the expressway on the highway when traffic is backed up, but without the extra cost!

Here are 10 easy ways you can save time on your Royal Caribbean cruise with some quick tips.

Download the Royal Caribbean app now

The Royal Caribbean app is super important these days, and if you wait to download it on the ship, you will waste much more time.

Royal Caribbean allows you to download the app for free while using their wifi, but the speeds are super slow.  Download it now while you are at home and have a fast internet connection.

Moreover, having the app installed and signed in will make nearly every aspect of the vacation (especially embarkation) much smoother and faster. 

While some cruisers might prefer to not have to use a phone on their cruise, there is a difference between using the Royal Caribbean app and checking work email.  Put on your out of office message in your email, but keep the Royal Caribbean app primed and ready.

Read moreThe Royal Caribbean App: Everything you should know

Do everything in the online check-in before the cruise

Speaking of the Royal Caribbean app, there is no excuse for not completing the online check-in before your cruise.

I recommend using the Royal Caribbean app to complete the check-in (in lieu of the Royal Caribbean website) because the app can scan your passport to save time, as well as make the photo upload much easier since your phone has a camera.

If you enter all your information, take the selfie, and add a credit card to your account, you will fly through the cruise terminal during check-in.

Read moreWant to get on your cruise ship as fast as possible? Here's what you should do

Book My Time Dining reservations

If you have My Time dining, be sure to book a reservation so you don't wait later.

My Time Dining allows you a flexible dining schedule, and you can simply go to the dining room and get a table.

The reality is having a reservation means you will wait less, so whenever possible, book a time in advance so that you wait less. People with a reservation get priority for a table first.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean My Time Dining versus Traditional Dining

Pre-book beverage packages, dining packages, internet packages and more

An intangible benefit to pre-purchasing anything is it saves you time onboard from doing the exact same thing, which means more vacation time back to you.

Taking the time to purchase anything onboard does not take very much time, but every little bit helps, and some purchases on the first day of the cruise can require waiting in a line, such as drink packages.

As an added benefit, there is usually a pre-cruise discount if you book these online.  Save time and money by pre-booking.

Read more12 must have Royal Caribbean tips & tricks for families

Research shore excursions before you cruise

All too often you will see families standing on the pier while visiting a port of call and trying to decide on the spot what they should do.

You have a limited amount of time in any port of call you visit, and time wasted deliberating where to go means even less time to enjoy your tour.

Your best bet is to look into what each port your cruise ship visits offers, and either book something in advance or have a plan of what you will do there.

Just like the previous tip about pre-purchasing packages, researching in advance shore excursions will save time and maybe even some money.

Read moreA complete guide to picking the perfect shore excursions

Read the Cruise Compass the night before

Every night, your stateroom attendant will drop off a copy of the next day's Cruise Compass and this is your best time to check out what is coming up.

Royal Caribbean offers a lot to do onboard their ships, and it is a good idea to at least browse the next day's activities and check out what sounds interesting.

Not only will perusing the Cruise Compass save you time in deciding what to do, you may discover an activity you really want to see and reduce the chance of missing out on something.

Read moreFirst time cruiser's guide to Royal Caribbean's Cruise Compass

Visit Guest Services at less-busy times

When you have a problem, Guest Services is almost always the go-to place to get it resolved, but if at all possible, try to go when there are less guests doing the same thing.

Guest Services is open 24 hours, and they can assist with so many issues. The best times to visit Guest Services is early in the morning, during dinner, while the ship is docked in port, and late at night.

If your question or concern can wait a little bit, try to visit when the lines are much shorter or even non-existent.

Read moreThe top crew members to find if you have a problem onboard your cruise

Get to the beach faster on CocoCay and Labdee

If your ship is visiting Labadee, there is a complimentary ferry that visits Columbus Cove.

About halfway down the pier will be an area you can board a ferry boat to take you to the opposite end of Labadee, and enjoy one of the quietest beaches available.

The ferry is free.

Over at Perfect Day at CocoCay, there is complimentary shuttle services all around the island.

You will find golf carts waiting to take guests off the ship as you disembark.  These carts will take you down the length of the pier and drop you off at the entrance to the island.

There are also larger trams that go all around the island. These trams are great for not only getting from point A to point B, but they are a good way to see the island.

Whether by cart, tram, or ferry, these free services will save you steps on what is likely a very warm and sunny day in paradise.

Read more40 Perfect Day at CocoCay tips, tricks and secrets

Use a travel agent

Travel agents are an amazing resource that costs you absolutely nothing extra to use.

The best reason to use an agent is to save you time, because they are the ones sitting on hold when calling Royal Caribbean.  Tasks such as repricing, making special requests, dealing with weather events and more are why I use a travel agent every single I book a cruise.

While they are saving you time, they can also net you big savings.

Read moreTop things you didn't know travel agents can do for your cruise vacation

Register your kids for Adventure Ocean on embarkation day

While you can sign your kids up for Adventure Ocean at any time, the best time to do it is on the afternoon of the first day of your cruise.

In the early afternoon (usually around 1pm), Adventure Ocean opens up their open house so families can stop in to meet the staff and register.

The registration process is quick, and doing it now means the crew members have everything you need to sign right then and there, as opposed to later when they have to grab the sheets and of course that means more time spent while also trying to drop your kids off.

Read moreTop tips for taking a Royal Caribbean family cruise vacation

More tips and secrets

Want more helpful tips to save you time and money? Check out these articles:

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