5 Royal Caribbean cruise mistakes that are not really a mistake


If you are new to Royal Caribbean, there may be some aspects of the cruise experience that seem like they would be a mistake to do, but the reality is, it may be quite the opposite.

Here are five examples of ideas that may seem like a mistake, but are actually a good idea.

Cruising during hurricane season

The phrase, "hurricane season" seems to inflict the kind of fear into cruisers that makes it seem as though if you book a Royal Caribbean cruise between June 1 and November 30, you are asking for ocean conditions that rival that of a bathtub filled with an angry toddler.

The reality is, cruising during hurricane season is not nearly as dangerous or bad an experience as you may think.

Yes, there is a chance a hurricane may form and be directly in the path of where your cruise ship is scheduled to be, but if that were to occur, Royal Caribbean will re-schedule the ship to steer well-clear of the path of the storm.  Royal Caribbean actually has their own dedicated meteorologist who plans around storms and works to ensure guests, crew and ship are out of harms way.

Moreover, cruising during hurricane season can save you a lot of money.  If you book a cruise in September or October, you can often find some great deals on a Royal Caribbean cruise because this is a time of year many others cannot cruise.  

Using a porter

"I can carry my own luggage!"

Of course you can handle your own luggage, but why should you?  You are on vacation and lugging around luggage is the last thing you need to be bothered with doing.

The port you start and end your cruise with will have porters standing by to assist with your luggage.  Their services are free to use, but a tip is expected.  For a few dollars, you can avoid the hassle of grabbing your luggage. Carrying your own luggage should be a feat of strength, so spending a few dollars to let someone else do it makes it so much easier.

The best time to take advantage of the porters is on disembarkation day.  Not only are you tired from waking up early and depressed you have to leave the ship, but there is another good reason to use porters.  In many ports, there is a special line at Customs for porters, which means you may get through the Customs line quicker.

Arriving to the cruise terminal before your boarding time

You checked in for your Royal Caribbean cruise and see on your Set Sail pass a boarding time.  Believe it or not, that is a suggestion and not a requirement.

Royal Caribbean does not enforce boarding times.  They are just something they provide to give guests a ballpark idea of when to arrive.

While there is nothing wrong with adhering to the boarding time you are given, you should absolutely feel free to arrive earlier than the posted time so that you can get onboard sooner.  In fact, we think getting to the ship as early as possible is to your advantage to beat the crowds and start your vacation sooner.

Quite often, the cruise terminal opens many hours before your boarding time states, and boarding of the ship will commence shortly thereafter. In fact, the boarding process is largely predicated on a first-come, first boarded process.  So the earlier you check-in, the earlier you will board.

Ordering more than one entrée

When you dine at a Royal Caribbean restaurant (such as the main dining room), you can order multiple entrées.  In fact, it is encouraged!

When you dine at a restaurant on land, ordering multiple entrées is not only expensive, but seems glutenous and unnecessary.  On Royal Caribbean, ordering multiple entrées is actually a great idea.  The portion sizes of entrées in the main dining room are often smaller than you may think, and all the food in the main dining room is included in your cruise fare.  You can also order as many appetizers or desserts as well.

Another advantage of ordering multiple entrées is it is the perfect opportunity to try new foods.  Since there is no financial risk, give that escargot a try!

In Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants, all will allow you order multiple appetizers and desserts, and with the exception of Chops Grille, you can order as many entrées there too.

Booking a shore excursion only (or never) with Royal Caribbean

No matter where your Royal Caribbean cruise takes you, it is a mistake to completely disregard or only consider a shore excursion bought through Royal Caribbean.

In our experience, it is best to consider all excursion options and not limit yourself to just Royal Caribbean excursions, or just third-party excursions.

When researching each port that you will be visiting, never assume going it on your own or through Royal Caribbean is an absolute must or mistake.  

Did we miss any?

Is there a commonly held thought when it comes to planning a Royal Caribbean cruise that you think is not a mistake?  Have you encountered one of these situations yourself? Share your experiences and thoughts in our comments!

What we spent on our last Royal Caribbean cruise


New cruisers are often curious to know how much does a Royal Caribbean cruise really cost, so we sought to share with everyone an example of the total cost of our 4-night Royal Caribbean cruise on Brilliance of the Seas. 

Our costs will obviously vary from many others, but I hope it provides helpful insight into budgeting for a cruise.

Cruise Cost Summary

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the various costs, I wanted to provide a ballpark picture of how much we spent.  This includes costs before and during the cruise.  

I prefer to break up the total cost of the cruise by making certain cruise purchases prior to when we sail, as it avoids having all the cruise costs in one billing cycle. Each of the costs will be broken down further in this post.

Cruise Fare

Cruise Legnth: 4-nights
Stateroom: Category E1 Balcony
Passengers: 2
Cruise fare total: $1193.46 (including gratuities)
Pre-Cruise purchases: $342.74
Onboard spending: $271.28
Cash spending (on shore): $100 (estimate)
Cash spending (onboard): $150 (estimate)

GRAND TOTAL: $2057.48

Specialty Dining

Before the cruise began, we pre-purchased the BOGO 2 Night Dining Package, along with a seperate reseration for Giovanni's Table.  I enjoy the main dining room, but my wife felt since it was just the two of us, we would be better off with specialty dining.  We have dined on many occasions in the main dining room, but it is an experience that we enjoy the most when we are dining with friends (or Billy).

I also write restaurant reviews for this blog, so the opportunity to try the dining package and re-visit some restaurants is something unique to my style of cruising.  

BOGO 2 Night Dining Package: $80 + $5 gratuity
Giovanni's Table reservation: $48
Izumi overage (from BOGO 2 night dining package): $23.80
Dinner at Izumi on night 3 (not included in dining package): $57.82
Sushi making class: $33.04


My wife puts up with a lot of nerdiness before, during, and after the cruise.  She often hears me say things like, "Honey, I need to go do a Facebook Live" and then disappear for an hour.  Thus, I try to ensure my wife has some reward for putting up with all of that, so we booked her a salon appointment before the cruise.  

I prebooked it during a Cruise Planner sale and I feel like the price was cheaper than if we had waited to book onboard.  The service included gratuity when I booked it, but my wife gave the stylist a small tip on top of that after the appointment. Suffice to say, I think she liked it.

Shampoo / Cut and Style Dry (Long Hair): $98.22 (including gratuity)


Since I live blog from the cruise, I always purchase an internet package.  I went with the two device plan to give my wife internet access as well.  

I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of the internet on Brilliance of the Seas.  I was able to browse and post on social media with ease, managed to do many live videos while onboard, and found it fast enough not to remind me of the "old days of cruising".  It was still not as responsive or reliable as the internet on an Oasis or Quantum class ship, but significantly better than when we were on Brilliance a few years ago.

2 VOOM Surf + STREAM Voyage Package - 2 Device: $121.52


After much deliberation, we did not purchase any drink package before our cruise. Our strategy was to rely on drink specials at bars onboard, drink a lot in Cozumel, bring our own bottles of wine onboard, and hope for a drink card to appear.

In retrospect, everything worked out as we planned.  In fact, I was surprised how low the bar bill was for the two of us prior to the drink card showing up on day three. I would be curious to compare this to another cruise we may take in the future when the weather is nicer and the temperatures warmer, to see if that contributes any to our spending.

Drink Card: $88.50
Individual drink orders: $57.12


We did not purchase an excursion through Royal Caribbean or through a third party.  We simply took a taxi to downtown Cozumel and walked around on our own.  We did a bit of shopping, and ate at a few different restaurants.  We even stopped at a grocery store on the way back to the ship to pick up tortilla chips to bring home.

I freely admit I did not keep receipts or track of what we paid, so I am making an educated guess on what we spend in Cozumel.  It may have been higher or lower than these numbers indicate, but it is close enough.

We also tipped the porter when we arrived to the Port of Tampa.  Since we took our own luggage off the ship when we returned, there was no porter service necessary.  If you are wondering about the cost to get to the port and parking, my father graciously drove us so we paid that back in love.

Taxi fare: $20 (with tips)
Drink and food around Cozumel: $70 (estimated)
Porter on embarktion day: $10


You can blame me for nearly all the spending in the casino, because I am drawn to it like a moth to the flame.  I know it is more likely we will lose than win, but I really enjoy playing for the thrill of it.  My wife rolls her eyes and tries to talk me out of it, but it is no use.

On this cruise, the casino gods were extremely unkind and I never lost my money so quickly.  We mostly played roulette and slots, although I did spend $10 on the quarter machine because there was so much motion in the ocean that I thought my odds were better.  

Alas, at the time I enjoyed the thrill of it, but recognize I could have spent that money elsewhere (like on more sushi from Izumi).

Estimated losses: $150

Guide to Royal Caribbean 2018 new cruise ships and refurbishments


It looks like 2018 will be a pretty big year for Royal Caribbean with a lot of changes, but no change is bigger than the anticipated arrival of a new cruise ship and refurbishment of quite a few others.

Each year, Royal Caribbean plans on changes to its fleet of ships and if you are considering a 2018 cruise, then you are certainly going to want to consider some of these ships that are getting new upgrades or are joining the fleet for the first time.

Here is what you need to know about the cruise ships joining Royal Caribbean's fleet and which ships will be upgraded this year.

New cruise ships in 2018

There is just one new ship joining Royal Caribbean's fleet in 2018, but it is going to be a big deal (emphasis on "big").

Symphony of the Seas

It is quite likely that of all the new ships to debut in 2018 across the cruise industry, very likely you will hear quite a bit about Symphony of the Seas.

Symphony of the Seas is the fourth Oasis class ship in the fleet and will become the largest cruise ship in the world, with 16 guest decks, encompassing more than 230,000 gross registered tons and carry 5,500 guests at double occupancy across 2,759 staterooms.

Symphony of the Seas will feature many of the amazing features that made her sister ships famous, as well as offer own unique features.  

Symphony of the Seas will call home a brand new cruise terminal in PortMiami, designed specifically for this ship. The new terminal will not only look impressive, it will feature something the cruise line calls, "frictionless arrival".  When guests arrive to the port, they can use their mobile phone to check-in and board the ship with just a security checkpoint between the curb and the ship. A redesigned check-in experience will eliminate lines and bypasses the counter. The new process will leverage a combination of facial recognition, bar codes and beacons to make boarding fast and frictionless.

Once onboard the ship, there will be some new dining options to try, like fresh New England style seafood at Hooked Seafood restaurant, game day favorites at Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, or authentic Mexican fare at El Loco Fresh.

Symphony of the Seas will be the first Oasis Class ship to offer laser tag at sea in Studio B. An epic glow-in-the-dark laser tag experience. State-of-the-art technology and special effects will transform Studio B into the ultimate laser tag arena as family, friends and foes battle over the fate of the last planet in the galaxy.

Symphony of the Seas will also offer signature entertainment onboard that has distinguished the cruise line from all others.  The hit Broadway musical "Hairspray" is coming back to Royal Caribbean on Symphony of the Seas.  "Flight" is a brand new show in the Royal Theater that takes you through the history and future of flight. HiRo in the Aqua Theater is a new show that combines cutting-edge technology, future-forward choreography, unexpected stunts and highly innovative, physically extraordinary acrobatics.

There is plenty more to love about Symphony of the Seas, including The Perfect Storm trio of water slides, dancing robot bartenders at Bionic Bar, virtual balcony staterooms, Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods, and Voom high speed internet, just to name a few.

Symphony of the Seas will debut in April 2018 and offer an initial European season prior to coming to Miami in November 2018.

Cruise ship refurbishments in 2018

Royal Caribbean is always looking to add more value to their ships and in 2018, four Royal Caribbean ships are getting upgrades, refurbishments and some nice changes.

Here is a list of what you can expect to see changed in the coming year.

Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas is going into dry dock in about a week to get its propulsion fixed, which should rectify a problem that was first identified last summer.

The work being done is limited to fixing the propulsion, so while the ship is getting work done, there is nothing exciting to report on when the ship returns.  Of course, a fully operational propulsion system is always a good feature to have onboard.

Adventure of the Seas

Adventure of the Seas will undergo a 30-day refurbishment at the end of January to add new features and updates.

Royal Caribbean will add Izumi Japanese Cuisine, new inside and oceanview staterooms and a Suite Lounge to Adventure of the Seas as part of the work being done.

Majesty of the Seas

Adding to a busy January for ship work, Majesty of the Seas will also get some work done in January 2018. 

Royal Caribbean has not officially announced this refurbishment, but a number of sailings have been canceled to clear time for the work to be completed.

The work is to begin following the January 19, 2018 sailing and extend through all of February.  The first Majesty of the Seas sailing following the refurbishment will be March 5, 2018.

Royal Caribbean has not announced what work will be done.  There has been plenty of rumors floating about, but it is safe to bet the work will include some necessary maintenance, and perhaps adding of enhanced features.

Brilliance of the Seas

Brilliance of the Seas will undergo a dry dock for maintenance work in the second quarter of 2018.

There are no sailings scheduled between Friday April 20, 2018 and Tuesday, May 1, 2018. 

No word on what work will be done, but it is expected to be mostly a maintenance effort to keep the ship running in great condition.

Independence of the Seas

In April 2018, Royal Caribbean will send Independence of the Seas for an extensive refurbishment, where she will receive a number of upgrades and additions.

When Independence of the Seas returns to service, she will offer these new upgrades and features:

  • A larger interactive aqua park, Splashaway Bay, featuring wild waterslides, water cannons, fountains, pools and drench bucket
  • Addition of Izumi specialty restaurant (with table side Teppanyaki grills)
  • New lounges
  • Panoramic Ocean View staterooms to be added
  • Improved ice rink
  • Revamped Royal Theater
  • Trampoline Park
  • Escape room
  • Laser Tag

Mariner of the Seas

Mariner of the Seas will receive a massive majover this year that will see Royal Caribbean invest over $100 million in upgrades and changes.

The six-week drydock in Cadiz, Spain, will take place in May and June 2018. The updates will coincide with the June 2018 opening of the newly constructed dock at Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean's private destination, which will play a major role in the Mariner's itineraries.

If you are wondering what work will be done on Mariner of the Seas, so are we.  Royal Caribbean has not announced yet the scope of changes coming to Mariner of the Seas. 

Vision of the Seas

Vision of the Seas is scheduled for a dry dock in the fourth quarter of 2018. There appears to be a gap in sailings between November 1 and November 13, 2018.

No word on what work will be done.

Which ship addition or refurbishment are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments!

First time cruisers: What to know before booking a Royal Caribbean cruise


A Royal Caribbean cruise is a fantastic family vacation choice, but before you book, you should arm yourself with some knowledge to ensure your cruise is terrific.  The saying "you don't know what you don't know" is certainly true when it comes to cruising.  First time cruisers make a lot of mistakes and there are many things that are simply impossible to know until you go.

With that in mind, we have written this guide with some important things that first time cruisers ought to know before they actually book a cruise.  There is plenty of planning to be done after booking a cruise, but here are some good things to consider prior to picking a ship and sailing.

Use a travel agent

Whether this is your first cruise, or you have cruised a ton, I always recommend using a travel agent.  Simply put, travel agents work to make your vacation planning easier on you and they are paid by the cruise line (not you) for your business. You literally have nothing to lose by using a travel agent.

For first time cruisers, a good travel agent is a great resource of information on Royal Caribbean in general.  Moreover, they can answer the kind of personal questions that no blog can ever tackle.  Often, many first time cruisers have questions about their particular circumstances, and a good travel agent can leverage their own experience to provide the right answer for you.

In addition, travel agents are knowledgeable about the many discounts and offers available by Royal Caribbean. If there are pricing questions, or changes to be made to the reservation, they are the ones that call Royal Caribbean and sort out the details for you.  That frees you up to do something far more interesting and fun.  Essentially, a travel agent is your advocate for any concerns you may have, including when you are on the ship.  All too often, new cruisers try to do it themselves because they can, and it leads to time and effort that could have been saved by using a travel agent.

When considering which travel agent to use, ensure you pick one that is deeply knowledgeable about Royal Caribbean, and does not charge any fees to you for changes.  Talk to them before even committing to book with them and ask questions about their experience and level of service they provide so you can feel comfortable in how they will work with you.

Try to learn the lingo

If you have not been on a cruise before, you may quickly run across terms, options, and phrases that are unfamiliar to you.  Frankly, it can be a bit overwhelming.

Thankfully, we have taken precautions to help you adjust to a Royal Caribbean cruise in advance.  Our Royal Caribbean cruise ship term glossary will break down everything from Adventure Ocean to WOWband so that you understand everything in the cruise planning process.

Compare ship features

Royal Caribbean has 24 ships in its fleet, and while they share a core experience across them all, the ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet vary from class of ships and even between individual vessels.  This means, you need to be aware of what each ship offers, and which features each ship you are considering has and if it is important to you.

In short, Royal Caribbean breaks up its many ships into classes.  Ship classes are groupings of ships that share a common structure and layout.  Think of ship classes like types of cars: you have pickup trucks, sedans, minivans, etc.  Within each type of cars, you then have individual car models.  That is fairly similar to how Royal Caribbean categorizes its ships.

In addition to just size and tonnage, each ship class tends to include similar entertainment, activities and onboard amenities.  What you want to do is think about which features you want on your cruise ship, and then see if that class has what you want.  If water slides are important, then Oasis or Freedom Class ships would be a good pick.  If you want a nursery, then skip Majesty of the Seas.   Again, a good travel agent can greatly assist with narrowing down the choices for you.

You should also be aware that while ships within each class are similar, Royal Caribbean has added new features to some ships over the years that have differentiated them more than in the past.  Basically, do not assume one ship in the class is identical to another ship in the class (especially on the newer ships).

Book as early as you can

A very common question before you book a cruise is, "when is the best time to book a Royal Caribbean cruise" or "when should I book my Royal Caribbean cruise."  The simple answer is: as early as you can.

For years Royal Caribbean has urged its customers to book early. It is a mantra that used to be simply marketing, but these days, is absolute gospel. 

The best prices for cruises on Royal Caribbean are when the cruise line first starts taking bookings. Prices tend to rise as you get closer and closer to your sailing date, so waiting to book can actually cost you more money.

Why does the price increase as you get closer to the sail date? For one, it's a matter of supply and demand. The more people that book, the less supply there is and therefore, the price rises. In addition, Royal Caribbean wants people to book early so it can fill up their ships and by giving early birds financial incentive to book early, it helps Royal Caribbean accomplish that goal. These days, Royal Caribbean cruises are incredibly popular and ships sail full routinely.  So trying to wait for a "deal" is not advisable because it may never actually show up.

Time and time again, the lowest pricing for all sailings comes when they first go on sale.  

The caveat to this tip is you have to be prepared to book a cruise 1-2 years in advance.  For a lot of folks, that is not very practical since work and school calendars are rarely published that early.

Your best bet is to book something with just a deposit and have the flexibility to change it later.  Even if you book only 7 or 8 months in advance, that is still better than trying to book 4-5 months in advance.

Check airfare prices

Odds are that you may not live close enough to be able to drive to the cruise you will eventually book, so that means you will need to book a flight to get there.  Before booking a Royal Caribbean cruise, consider airfare costs because that may make or break your cruise plans.

Airfare prices are anything but predictable, so you will want to start looking into flight options to ensure the best possible price. Just like cruise fares, the best prices for airfare seem to favor those that book well in advance.

What you want to do is when considering different cruise choices, check on airfare for each cruise to ensure you are not picking a great sailing that will come with an expensive or impractical flight choice.

Be sure to also consider nearby airports that could save you a lot of money. As an example, if your cruise leaves from Port Everglades in Florida, nearby airports of Miami, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach are close enough to be an easy car ride over, especially if that helps bring your total airfare price down.

Read an old Cruise Compass

When trying to pick the right ship and sailing for you, you will likely have questions about what there is to do onboard.  In fact, the available activities may play a major role in which ship you end up booking. 

There is no way to know in absolute terms what your upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise will or will not offer, because Royal Caribbean does not publish its activities or entertainment in advance. What you can do to learn about what to expect on your sailing is to consult a past Cruise Compass to see what was available on those similar sailings.

A Cruise Compass is Royal Caribbean's daily newspaper that is distributed to guests on each day of the cruise.  Generally speaking, Royal Caribbean sailings on a particular ship do not change that much from week to week in terms of the activities or entertainment offered. There will be some discrepancies, but an old Cruise Compass can give you a good ballpark of expectations to plan around.

Your thoughts

Are you looking to book a cruise and have a question or concern?  Have you taken many cruises and want to share something you wish you have known before your first cruise? Share what is on your mind in our comments!

Six big changes coming to Royal Caribbean in 2018


With 2018 right around the corner, a new year of Royal Caribbean cruising is nearly upon us.  With the new year comes new changes to Royal Caribbean, and we picked out six of the most noticeable changes that guests will undoubtedly encounter.

Major tech rollout

In November 2017, Royal Caribbean announced an array of technological innovations coming to the fleet that have the goal of making things simpler and easier for guests.  In 2018, we will see roughly half the fleet enjoy the fruits of this new push.

It will take until the end of 2019 for the entire breadth of this new tech push to be deployed across the entire fleet, but 2018 should see a number of ships benefit from the new innovations.

There are many components to this tech push, but a new smartphone app and frictionless check-in are at the heart of this initiative.

Ship refurbishments

Three Royal Caribbean cruise ships will have noticeable work done to them in 2018. These ships jump out as worthy of paying close attention to, because they introduce something new onboard.

In the case of Allure of the Seas, the work being done is to repair the propulsion problem it has been hampered with since summer 2017.

Unlimited alcohol package rule change

Beginning in 2018, guests who want to purchase an unlimited alcohol package will be required to purchase an unlimited alcohol package for all adults in the same stateroom.

In an effort to thwart sharing of drink package benefits (which is strictly against the rules of the package), Royal Caribbean is adding this rule.  Similar rules exist among other cruise lines that offer an unlimited alcohol package.

Cruises from New Orleans

If you are one of the many cruise fans that have been clamoring for a return to New Orleans, 2018 is your year.  

After a three-year hiatus, Royal Caribbean will return to offering cruises from New Orleans, Louisiana with Vision of the Seas in the winter of 2018-2019. Beginning on December 15, 2018, Vision of the Seas will offer 7-night itineraries to the Bahamas and Yucatan Peninsula.

New cruise terminal in Miami

Taking a Royal Caribbean cruise from PortMiami is about to become a whole lot better in 2018 with the opening of its new cruise terminal in late 2018.

Terminal A will be completed in October 2018 and is anticipated that Royal Caribbean will generate at least 1.8 million travelers at PortMiami – representing no less than 30 percent of the port’s projected passenger traffic.

Terminal A at PortMiami will be the new home of the just announced Symphony of the Seas, as well as sister ship Allure of the Seas.

Symphony of the Seas launch

The biggest change in 2018 is the addition of the world's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas.

Symphony will arrive in March 2018, and begin service by sailing the Mediterranean in Spring and Summer 2018. Symphony of the Seas will make stops at ports in Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Provence, Florence, Rome and Naples.

In Fall 2018, Symphony of the Seas will cross the Atlantic to her new home in at PortMiami in Miami, Florida. From Miami, she will sail from Royal Caribbean's brand new cruise terminal that it broke ground on this morning. Symphony of the Seas will offer seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.

Symphony of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship ever, coming in at 230,000 GRT. She will have 28 more staterooms than her sister ship, Harmony of the Seas, and be 215.5 feet wide and 1,188 feet long. This will make Symphony of the Seas just slightly larger than Harmony of the Seas.

Which Royal Caribbean change are you most excited about for 2018? Tell us in the comments!

Self-disembarkation on Royal Caribbean cruises


On the last morning of your Royal Caribbean cruise, Royal Caribbean provides an option for guests who wish to carry their own luggage off the ship that is referred to as self assist, express departure, or self disembarkation.  Regardless of what it is called, this option provides guests with a way to depart the cruise ship at their leisure.

Here is an overview of how to carry your own luggage off a Royal Caribbean ship, if you so choose.

How self disembarkation works

Guests who elect to carry their own luggage off the ship will be required to take their luggage from their stateroom, and take it all the way off the ship and through customs.

Unlike guests who have luggage transported for them from their stateroom, guests who carry off their own luggage can leave as soon as the ship is cleared by local customs.  

Guests may indicate they wish to use Express Departure by registering with Guest Relations.  In our experience, registering with Guest Relations is a suggestion, rather than a requirement.

Once you commit to carrying your own luggage off the ship, and the time window to leave your luggage outside your stateroom door for it to be delivered for you, you must stick with taking your own luggage off the ship.

Most often, the Express Departure option is preferred by guests who want to depart as early as possible due to travel plans, work requirements, or other needs.  However, if you opt to carry your own luggage off the ship, you may depart at any time.  On disembarkation day, an announcement will be made once the gangway is opened and cleared by local authorities, and at that time, guests carrying their own luggage may depart the ship.

Why carry off your own luggage

The primary reason most guests opt to carry off their own luggage is to allow them to stay on their own schedule and be among the first to depart the ship.

Some guests want to leave the ship early, and the first bags cleared by officials for pick up may not be available for an hour or more following the gangway being opened. Express Departure allows for the speediest exit from the trip and for those that want or need to get going early, this is the best solution.

Other guests simply prefer to be among the first off the ship to avoid any delays in customs, or onboard the ship.  Some ports have a reputation for having longer disembarkation lines, so being among the first means a seamless exit.

What to know before carrying your own luggage off the ship

  • You need to be comfortable with taking all of your luggage off the ship without any assistance. You must be physically fit as there will be no assistance or porters.
  • The exact time you can exit the ship will depend on when the ship is cleared by local authorities. There can be unpredictable delays in that process, so there are never any guarantees when guests may exit the ship.
  • Often guests who want to take part in Express Departure will be directed to a specific location on the ship.  A list of locations and times will be delivered to each stateroom the night before disembarkation.
  • Guests opting for self-disembarkation do not have to leave the ship immediately.  They may remain onboard for as long as they wish, up until the required time for all guests to leave the ship.
  • There are usually notices in the Cruise Compass a few days into the cruise for guests who want to carry their own luggage off the ship.  The notice informs guests of the option, and to register with Guest Services.

Have you carried your own luggage off a Royal Caribbean cruise before? Do you have questions about using this in the future? Share your experiences and concerns in the comments!

How to convince someone to take a Royal Caribbean cruise


Convincing someone to try a Royal Caribbean cruise is no easy task.  Many people have negative preconceptions about cruising, had a bad experience in the past on another cruise line, or have some other reason for disliking the notion of a cruise vacation.

These negatives run the gamut from expensive to being bored and more.  There is no shortage of opinions from many different sources that purport the shortfalls of cruising.  Negative Royal Caribbean specific arguments tend to be a little less common, but given the broad range of opinions on the internet, they certainly exist too.

Regardless of the background of the person you are trying to convince, it is possible to convince them to take a Royal Caribbean cruise and (more importantly) for them to have a good time.  You have to know how to approach the trip and convince them to go in with an open mind. 

Here are some of our tips for convincing your spouse, or anyone else, to take a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation.

Plan around their hesitations

If you encounter someone who dislikes the idea of taking a Royal Caribbean cruise, often it is based around certain fears or opinions of what a cruise vacation is all about.  The key is to assuage them of these concerns.

"I'll be bored" or "There won't be enough to do"

Many first time cruisers imagine a glorified fishing boat, where all you do is sit around between meals.  A Royal Caribbean cruise is anything but that, as their ships are packed with incredible experiences that run throughout the day and night.

Consider looking at a Quantum or Oasis Class cruise ship, which have the latest and greatest experiences onboard.  These ships were built with activities and things to do onboard.

Show them some past Cruise Compasses, which are the daily newspaper of events for the ship.  The Cruise Compass lists every onboard activity, and is a great example of how much there is to see and do on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

You might also consider an itinerary that has more port stops than sea days.  Visiting these beautiful islands and cities means an opportunity to explore off the ship.  Having a port-intensive itinerary minimizes the amount of time on the ship, and can be a good "stepping stone" to a fuller cruise experience.

"I will get sea sick"

A very common misconception about a cruise vacation is they will get sea sick.  It can be based on nothing at all, or a past boating experience, or an extension of motion sickness suffered elsewhere (like on cars or trains).

Royal Caribbean cruise ships are massive.  Significantly larger than any fishing boat or ferry they may have taken in the past.  The ships employ advanced stabilizers that keep the sensation of movement on a ship at a minimum.

Moreover, the Captain will constantly seek out the smoothest waters.  Smooth waters means happy guests, and happy guests translate to more money being spent onboard.  

In the unlikely event of getting sea sick, there are also plenty of medication available that can easily mitigate the effects of getting sea sickness.  There are great over the counter medications, natural remedies, and even prescription medicine that can help.  Spending a few dollars to buy these items as a backup can be the kind of reassurance needed to get someone to try a cruise.

"A cruise is expensive"

The price of a cruise vacation is as varied as the cost of a car.  Just like there are car prices that are $16k, $30k, $100k and more, cruise prices can vary significantly.  When it comes to a Royal Caribbean cruise, it does not have to be expensive.  In fact, it is an excellent value.

It is important to talk about everything that is included with the cruise fare, such as complimentary meals and beverages, entertainment each day and night, activities onboard, and more.  Remind them that if you were to take a land vacation, they would have to pay for food in addition to their lodging and transportation.  

Royal Caribbean has so many ships in their fleet that visit destinations around the world, that there is bound to be a sailing that fits in their price range.  Between the itinerary, sail date, and stateroom type, there is a lot of choices.  

This just covers a couple of common complaints about the cruise vactions, but you get the idea. Find out what they do not like about a cruise, and thenexplain why those fears are misplaced.  Talk to them about what really goes on during a cruise, and determine how you will avoid their fears.  Then, think of things that disprove these stereotypes, and add them to your plan.

Focus on things they enjoy

A key to success for convincing someone to take a Royal Caribbean cruise is to make it personal.  Find something they enjoy and illustrate how a Royal Caribbean cruise incorporates that passion.

If they are a fitness nut, talk about the impressive fitness center and classes available on Royal Caribbean ships.  Show them there is a running track onboard, and even shore excursions that demand physical endurance.

If they are a foodie, pick a Royal Caribbean ship that has a lot of great restaurants and talk about the variety of foods available onboard.  Consider even investing in a specialty dining package to help bring the cost down to enjoy those experiences.

If they have kids, be sure to talk about the award-winning Adventure Ocean program, which means there is programming for children every day and night of the cruise.  The kids get to have fun playing with other kids, while you get time to yourself.  Any parent should jump at that opportunity.

If they like history and culture, talk about the ports your cruise ship will visit. Show them the kind of experiences they can have in a single cruise, such as visiting Mayan Ruins in Mexico, touring a plantation house in Jamaica, and going where Spanish Conquistadors first stepped foot in Puerto Rico.

Talk about the experiences they might not know are on a cruise ship

I imagine many people who have never taken a cruise before, think of a cruise ship as a giant floating pool with a cafeteria somewhere and a bunch of newly weds and retirees strewn about.  Tell that to someone who has taken a Royal Caribbean cruise before, and they are likely to laugh at hearing that description.  The key is to talk about everything a Royal Caribbean ship offers.

When you are trying to convince someone to try a cruise, focus on the type of activities and offerings found on Royal Caribbean.  Your list will vary depending on which ship you are considering, but here are some good points not to miss.

  • FlowRider surf simulator
  • Broadway shows
  • Adults-only Solarium
  • Specialty restaurants
  • Spacious suites
  • Mini-golf
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Casino
  • DreamWorks characters and events
  • Fitness classes
  • Skydiving simulator
  • NorthStar observation pod
  • Water slides
  • Aqua parks
  • Ice skating

You get the idea with just the items we picked on this list.  The great thing about a Royal Caribbean cruise is that it offers so much to do that will appeal to virtually anyone.  Whatever your friend/spouse/colleague/sibling's interests are, chances are there is some way to cater those interests on Royal Caribbean.

Use video

You can talk about how great something is for days, but videos work wonders because they can see what you are talking about.  Incorporating video in your strategy works wonders.

YouTube is likely the best source of videos that show off how much fun a Royal Caribbean vacation can be.  Find videos that back up the points and ideas discussed earlier and use that to show them what you mean.

There are videos that incorporate ship tours, recordings of shows, vlogs, and a lot more.  Inevitably, you should have no trouble finding videos that provide a glimpse of the kind of fun waiting for them onboard.

Share these videos on their Facebook page, or text them a link to the videos so that they can quickly see your point.  If the video is already on Facebook, tag them in the video so they get notified.  Odds are they will click and watch.

Your thoughts

We have listed a lot of suggestions for those trying to convince someone else to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise, but do you know of an idea that we missed? If you have run into this scenario before, we would love to hear suggestions you might have to offer, or even stories about a reluctant spouse or friend that you can share.  Please leave your stories, experiences and suggestions in the comments!

7 ways to learn everything you can about your Royal Caribbean cruise


The internet is a wealth of information and one of the best means to research pretty much anything, including your upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise.  Knowledge is power, and the more you know about what to expect on your Royal Caribbean cruise, the better prepared you will be and we think that leads to a better vacation experience.

Odds are if you are reading this blog post, which happens to be on a website dedicated to all things Royal Caribbean cruise, you probably interested in learning more about your cruise.  With that in mind, we listed our top resources for learning everything you can about a Royal Caribbean sailing. Learning about Royal Caribbean cruises has never been easier, and there is so much great information at your fingertips.  

It is also worth mentioning that, yes, we will shamelessly plug our own content here and there.  We are proud of the content we create on Royal Caribbean Blog, but also recognize there are some outstanding other means to learn about your cruise.  It isn't competition, because we all do things in our own style and at the end of the day, there is great and helpful information for everyone to enjoy. 

Travel agents

Travel agents are more than just a means of booking a cruise for you.  In fact, they are wonderful resources that provide the most personal and customizable information out there.  While you will read, hear and listen to a lot of great Royal Caribbean information on the internet, only travel agents can provide information that is catered exactly to your needs.

Travel agents are well-versed in what is happening with Royal Caribbean these days, and have their own cruising experience to draw upon to share too.  This means when you ask a question, they can answer it in with your family in mind.  We can write a million blog posts here about Royal Caribbean cruises, but it may never address your particular situation.  A good travel agent is that perfect resource.

Beyond just the logistical stuff, talk to your travel agent and ask them about opinions on shore excursions, stateroom types and what constitutes a good deal.  Finding a great travel agent means you have a partner and friend in the process to support you all along the way.

Facebook groups

Arguably the fastest growing and openly available resource on cruising over the last few years are Facebook groups.  Not too long ago, Facebook started allowing folks to create groups on pretty much any topic, and Royal Caribbean groups sprung up quickly.

Facebook groups are kind of like a simpler version of message boards, and they have proven to be a wonderful resource for sharing information.  

These days, there are a lot of Facebook groups dedicated to all aspects of a Royal Caribbean cruise.  They vary in size, scope, and subject matter, but they offer a good way to ask questions and hear other people's experiences.  You can search Facebook to one or more that you like, but here are a list of notable ones we think provide good information.


If you prefer to learn about your cruise by sound, rather than by sight, then podcasts are just for you.  Podcasts are downloadable internet-based radio shows, where periodically new episodes are released that talk about some aspect of a cruise.

The great thing about podcasts are they are perfect for listening to at the gym, in the car, or on a plane flight.  The cruising-related podcasts we listen to are all free to enjoy and most smartphones these days support them.

There are not many podcasts that focus purely on cruising (or Royal Caribbean), but these are worth your time

Websites & Blogs

The heart of the internet are websites that share information about cruising (we might be slightly biased in that statement), and there are many great sites dedicated to cruising.

Like this site, most cruising sites deal with a blend of cruise news and cruise information. While you may be focused on learning about your particular sailing, knowing what's happening in the world of cruising is not a bad idea.  Many trends in cruising travel from one cruise line to another, so reading news can be a good barometer of what to expect.

Unlike this site, cruising websites are dedicated to the whole cruise industry, instead of just Royal Caribbean.  The good news is a lot of the information you find on them pertains to Royal Caribbean just as much as other lines.  

Here is our list of our top picks for websites to check out.  Keep in mind there are many more, which is why Google was invented.


In addition to finding a great recipe for dinner, or a way to decorate your kids' bedroom, Pinterest has a lot of great information on taking a cruise. It particularly excels at showing you related content that you might not have considered searching for, but find interesting nonetheless.

Searching Pinterest for packing tips, cruise reviews, shore excursion ideas and even stateroom decorating tips are all great ideas to search for in preparation for your cruise.

The beauty of Pinterest is once you find something interesting, it is easy to find other relevant content and we quickly find ourselves with a ton of browser tabs open with great things to read.


Television documentaries may not be as prevalent today as they once were, but they provide an entertaining look at many Royal Caribbean cruise ships that if nothing else, will get you excited for your cruise.

The best cruise ship documentary series we know about is called Dream Cruises on AWE TV.  A number of Royal Caribbean ships have been featured on them over the years, and it focuses on what it is like to cruise on these ships, rather than the construction or engineering of them.

Periodically you can search your local listings on your DVR for re-run episodes.  National Geographic, Discovery Channel and the Science Channel have all had documentaries on Royal Caribbean ships over the years.  Keep in mind that most, if not all, of the documentaries you find on television are outdated, and itineraries, onboard amenities and entertainment have likely changed.  Still, it is fun to gather the family and watch these shows for their entertainment value.  


Between the millions of cute cat videos and Diet Coke/Mentos experiments, are a lot of great cruise videos on YouTube.  You will find vacation videos, walk-throughs, Royal Caribbean produced episodes and a whole lot more.

YouTube blends entertainment, information, and day dreaming together seamlessly and it is so easy to browse and learn about Royal Caribbean ships, port stops, and nearly everything onboard.

One of the first things we do after booking a cruise, is search YouTube for video tours of the category of stateroom we booked.  Walk-through videos of Royal Caribbean ships provide the perfect means of visualizing what to expect once onboard. 

Your thoughts

What is your preferred way to learn about Royal Caribbean cruises online? Did we miss a resource you know about, or is there one in our list that deserves special attention? Share your thoughts in the comments.