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Royal Caribbean updates guest towel rental policy

28 Jan 2017

Royal Caribbean has updated its policy for allowing guests to borrow towels during the cruise.

Effective January 15, 2017, guests may check out as many towels as they like during their cruise, and return them all by the end of the voyage to avoid a $24.99 replacement fee. The change in policy was communicated via Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society Newsletter.

With this new change, it appears guests will not have to worry about returning towels immediately, but will be charged if all towels are not returned prior to the end of the cruise.

Royal Caribbean's towel policy has changed over the years, with there sometimes being a fee for unreturned towels on certain ships. In January 2014, Royal Caribbean announced it was eliminating the unreturned towel fee, but the fee returned to certain ships in the time since.

Thanks to Scott Stein for alerting us to this change.

5 perfect times to enjoy the pool on a Royal Caribbean cruise without a crowd

24 Oct 2016

Most people likely envision their cruise vacation involving plenty of time to sit by the pool on their ship, sipping a cocktail and forgetting about all the trials and tribulations of being back at home.  Since so many guests have a similar day dream, this means it can tend to get crowded at the pool during your Royal Caribbean cruise.

The good news is there are plenty of other times to get your time in by the pool, without having to deal with big crowds.  Here are five easy times during your cruise to enjoy splashing, swimming or just hanging out on a Royal Caribbean cruise, without lots of other people around.

Swim on embarkation day

Most guests do not bring their swim suits with their carry-on luggage, and that means the first half of embarkation day results in an empty pool area.

Either wear your swim suit to the ship, or pack it in your carry-on luggage and then change in a public restroom onboard.  This is particularly good for kids who want to jump in as soon as possible.

Swim during dinner

On most days, the pool will get its most crowded in the afternoon, but as the day drags on, many guests start to leave to get ready for dinner and this is a great time to hop in the deep end.

By 4pm, guests begin leaving the pool to get ready for dinner and the next few hours result in a much more open time for a quick dip. 

Keep in mind that in the Caribbean (and other areas in the tropics), the sun sets later than back at home, so there is more sunlight to enjoy.

Swim at night

Just like the tip before, once the sun goes down, many guests skip the pool completely, but night swims are not only a great time for an uncrowded swim, but they are really a lot of fun too.

There will be at least one pool open each evening, and hot tubs too.  Plus, Royal Caribbean regularly shows movies on the pool movie screen, so you can combine a great flick with your night swim.

Swim while in ports

If you really want to get in some time at the pool in the day time when it is hottest, head for the pool on a day your Royal Caribbean ship is docked in a port.

On port days, most guests leave the ship for shore excursions, which leaves the pool wide open.  This is perhaps the best time for an afternoon swim (provided you do not have plans on shore).

Likewise, you could get off the ship earlier in the morning, and return back to the ship well before guests must return and likely find the pool emptier than usual as well.

Swim during shows

On the bigger Royal Caribbean ships, there can be headline shows during the day.  These can include Broadway shows, ice skating shows and AquaTheater shows.

Take advantage of guests opting to take in these matinees, but taking advantage of a less crowded pool.  The pool may not be empty, but you will find many guests choosing to see the show and leave their spot in the pool.

Your thoughts

When is your favorite time to go for a swim without the crowds? Is there a good time that we missed in this post? Share your suggestions in the comments!

Everything about Royal Caribbean's Solarium

16 Nov 2015

Royal Caribbean ships offer a lot, including an adults-only retreat known as the Solarium.

Vision of the Seas solarium

The Solarium is a part of every Royal Caribbean ship, where adults can enjoy a pool experience and simply relax.

If you want to know more about this adults oasis, then here is what you need to know.

What is the Solarium


Essentially, the Solarium is the adults-only pool that is open to guests that are at least 18 years old. Royal Caribbean changed the minimum age from 16 to 18 in 2023.

In some rare cases, the Solarium will be opened up to guests under the age of 18, provided they are directly supervised by a parent or guardian.

The Solarium often includes a pool, hot tub, seating area and a bar.


A nice difference between the Solarium and the main pools are Royal Caribbean tends to have cushioned lounge chairs available to use in the Solarium.

In addition, the Solarium on most ships is glass-canopied to ensure the area is always temperate.  The glass keeps the heat in, and often, the Solarium is one of the warmest spots onboard.

How is the Solarium different across ships?

Solarium on Quantum of the Seas

The layout and features of the Solarium vary by classes of ship.

In general, the Solarium area has gotten larger and offered more to guests in the larger and newer Royal Caribbean ships.

Most Solarium pools are a single wading pool, whereas on the Quantum class ships, the Solarium features a series of cascading lagoons in the center, where guests can swim.

Mariner of the Seas Solarium

Some Solariums have a retractable roof, whereas on other ships it is fixed.

On Harmony of the Seas, there is no pool in the Solarium but there are hot tubs. 

Majesty of the Seas does not have a Solarium.

Where is the Solarium located?

Solarium on Quantum of the Seas

Here is a breakdown by ship class of where the Solarium is located

  • Vision class: Deck 9 mid
  • Radiance class: Deck 11 forward
  • Voyager class:  Deck 11 forward
  • Freedom class:  Deck 11 forward
  • Oasis class: Deck 15 forward
  • Quantum class: Deck 14 forward

Is there any additional cost to use the Solarium?

No, the Solarium is free for adults to use.

Everything you wanted to know about Royal Caribbean's pools

24 Jul 2015

Royal Caribbean cruise ships offer a lot to see and do but for many guests, it is all about spending (a lot of) time at the pool.

Royal Caribbean designed their pools to be fun, relaxing and most of all refreshing experiences.  Whether you are there for the ambiance, the cooling effect or the activities, time at the pool is a great idea.

The different pools

Depending on which Royal Caribbean ship you sail on, the pools available to you will differ but there are some basics that are universal across the fleet.

Royal Caribbean ships generally have multiple pools per ship, with different audiences intended for each pool.

Main pool

The main pool is the general purpose pool that is open to everyone.  It is usually located in the center of the ship's pool deck and open for swimming throughout the day and into the evening.

The main pool is also where you will find various events, such as the belly flop competition or crew vs. guests pool games.  Available on Oasis, Freedom and Voyager class ships to the Caribbean, Royal Caribbean offers scuba classes. Participants must be at least 12 years old.

Weather permitting, the main pool is also home to the fun celebration that is sail away, where guests and crew get together to sing and dance and celebrate the beginning of the cruise vacation.

On certain larger ships, there are multiple main pools.  The Quantum class ships have an indoor and outdoor main pool.  The Oasis class ships offer multiple outdoor pools.

The only restrictions for guests in the main pool is children who are not 100% potty trained and/or wearing diapers may not swim in the main pool.


The Solarium is the adults-only pool that is open to guests that are at least 16 years old.  It is usually located in the front of the ship's pool deck and is often indoors or with a retractable roof.

Because of the indoor nature of the Solarium, it tends to be warmer and more humd in the Solarium than the main pool.  Royal Caribbean also tends to have cushioned lounge chairs that differ than the loungers available in the main pool.

During inclement weather and select hours, the ship may permit the Solarium pool to be used by guests under age 16 provided they are directly supervised by a parent or guardian.

Since the Solarium is located in the front of the ship, there are some great views available of the ocean and sky that are great for watching as the ship sails. 

Kids Pools

Royal Caribbean offers on some ships pools and water play areas specifically for children.  

On the Freedom, Oasis and Quantum class ships, there is an H2O Zone and on the Radiance class there is a kids pool and water slide.  Enchantment of the Seas offers a splash deck, which has 64 water jets, 40 of which are connectd to an interactive touch-pad system so kids can direct the water to splash each other.

The kids pool areas are built specifically for kids that are 100% potty trained with lots of splashing, spraying and fun available.  

For children who are not potty trained, some Royal Caribbean ships offer baby pools that are specifically built for these children.  These dedicated baby pools are ankle deep on a baby and a few feet across in dimension.

Pool Hours

Royal Caribbean's pools are open as much as possible during your cruise.  

The pools will be closed occasionally when they need to be cleaned as well if weather or sea conditions make the pools unsafe for swimming.

Royal Caribbean tries to keep at least one pool open at any given time.

Pool activities

Royal Caribbean's pools are a hub of activity on most cruises.  It is where the activity staff will hold many events and you will find by just spending time at the pool, you will encounter a lot of the ship's going-on's. 

Nearly all the events happening at a pool will occur at the main pool.

A little "taste" of the #navigatoroftheseas pool deck

A video posted by Royal Caribbean (@royalcaribbeanblog) on

Royal Caribbean is a huge proponent of live music and you can often enjoy bands playing music at the main pool throughout the day.  

These bands will play reggae, classic rock and even contemporary hits.  For fans of live music, sitting by the pool and enjoying music is perfect.

If you consult your Cruise Compass, you will find a number of activities happening at the main pool.  Exact activities differ depending on your ship and sailing but here are some common ones 

  • Belly flop competition
  • World's sexiest man competition
  • Scuba classes
  • Fitness classes
  • Poolside bingo
  • Dance classes
  • Poolside movies

Pool crowds

A very common question is how easy/difficult is it to get a chair at the pool throughout the day. Like so many things in life, the answer is, "it depends".

In general, on sea days, the pools tend to be the most crowded.  When the weather is warm and sun is out, many guests want to spend time at the pool swimming, relaxing, napping or just enjoying being outside.

Royal Caribbean provides a lot of chairs and lounge chairs all over the pool decks.  You will find an additional deck of pool chairs and lounge chairs on the deck above the pools for those looking for sun or to just get away from the pool traffic.

Will most, if not all, of the chairs get taken by some point in the day? There is a good chance of that happening.  Royal Caribbean does encourage guests to not reserve chairs for an entire day.  On some ships, the crew will actively free up unoccupied chairs to open them up for other guests.

In general, you will have much better luck finding an open lounge chair on the upper deck, away from the pool or in areas without a view of the pool during peak times.  If you want a view of the ocean, it is usually easier to get a chair.

The pools are less crowded on port days, during dining hours (especially dinner) and on embarkation day.

Royal Caribbean pool tips

  • Complimentary pool towels are provided for guests near the main pool.  Royal Caribbean discontinued the policy of needing a SeaPass to reserve them.
  • If you want that perfect pool-side chair, plan to arrive early.  Usually before 11am.
  • Suite guests have a special reserved section of chairs just for them.  Their location and availability depend on the ship.
  • In our experience, night time is the least crowded time at the pool.

What do you love about Royal Caribbean's pools? Share your experiences in the comments!

Royal Caribbean eliminates unreturned towel fee

01 Jan 2014

Starting today, January 1, 2014, Royal Caribbean has eliminated the $25 (per towel) fee for unreturned towels.

Previously, you could rent towels from the pool deck but would be charged $25 per towel if you did not return it before the end of your cruise.

The change is being cited as a result of guests feedback and Royal Caribbean wanting to offer guests "greater convenience and help them enjoy their Royal Caribbean vacation even more."  

Here is the full statement by Royal Caribbean as to why they decided to get rid of the penalty fee.

"We think this policy adjustment will offer guests greater convenience and help them enjoy their Royal Caribbean vacation even more.  We’re constantly evaluating our policies and implementing feedback. This is just one of many ongoing changes and improvements we’ve made to ensure Royal Caribbean International is giving guests the Royal Advantage - the most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries to popular destinations, and world-renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service. "

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