Alt Text!

10 things everyone on a cruise ship should do before their cruise ends

In:
22 Oct 2021

They say all good things must come to an end, and that includes cruise vacations.

As your time left onboard begins to wane, there are a few important things to do before it's time to head off the ship and end your vacation.

Doing so will not only expedite your final morning onboard before you disembark, but avoid regrets or billing problems later.

Here are ten things every cruiser should do on the last day of their sailing before their cruise comes to an end.

Check the bill

The top crew members to find if you have a problem onboard your cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

Setting your bill is a good idea on the last day of the cruise so you can review everything on there looks to be correct, as well as render payment.

If you have a cash account, you will want to get that squared away before heading to bed. Likewise, if you are sharing a cabin with someone and need to split the bill, or otherwise change how you pay it out, this is the time do so.

If you want to deposit any cash to offset your charges, you can also do this now.

Should you prepay gratuities for a Royal Caribbean cruise? | Royal Caribbean Blog

If by chance you still have extra onboard credit that is refundable, you can go to Guest Services to refund it as cash.  If your onboard credit is non-refundable onboard credit, go down to the casino and cash it out at one of the slot machines as a cash advance against your account.

This can all be done at Guest Services, although keep in mind that lines for Guest Services on the last day can sometimes get long. The best time to visit Guest Services on the final day is during the day. Everyone seems to go there in the evening.

Remember, get any accounting issues settled while onboard the ship. Calling after the cruise is much more time consuming and difficult.

Read moreCruising 101: SeaPass Account

Return towels

Royal Caribbean updates guest towel rental policy | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean will charge you $25 per pool towel you take that is not returned, so now is the time to bring it back.

The cruise line added this charge after years of guests taking towels and leaving them on shore excursions rather than bringing them back onboard.

Go through your stateroom and ensure any towels you tossed in the corner are brought back to the towel station and double check with the crew member there that your account is all set.

Give out extra tips

How to make the drink packages on Royal Caribbean work for you | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you wanted to reward a specific crew member or two with extra gratuities, the last day is a good time to do it.

Whether your stateroom attendant, favorite bartender, or waiter, the last day is the perfect opportunity to say thank you one more time.

I've often thought I would just see them on the final morning, but you would be surprised how difficult it can be to track down a crew member.

If you prefer to give out cash tips to your stateroom attendant and dining room staff, you can opt to do that by going to Guest Services and asking to pay cash tips and remove the automatic gratuity from your account.

Read moreWhy do I have to pay gratuities for my toddler?

Pack

Category 6V Interior Stateroom on Mariner of the Seas Photo Tour | Royal Caribbean Blog

Perhaps the least fun thing to do on your last day, but a necessary evil is packing everything back up.

I have to remind myself packing on the last day is better than trying to pack it all up on the final morning when you are groggy and extremely displeased with the fact you have to get off the ship.

Find some time in the afternoon to pack up as much as you can.

Be very certain to leave out sometime to wear the last morning of the cruise, otherwise you may have to wear your pajamas off the ship.

Read moreTop 9 bad mistakes to make on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Leave luggage outOasis of the Seas Live Blog Day 7 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

 

If you want assistance with getting your luggage off the ship, Royal Caribbean will deliver your bags from your stateroom to the cruise terminal.

The key is to leave your bags out by a certain time on the final night of the cruise, usually 10pm.  Check the paperwork left in your stateroom on the last day to confirm what time bags need to be out in the hallway by.

Also be sure to affix the luggage tags provided to you in your stateroom on the last day so that your luggage gets delivered.  It is also a good idea to take a photo of the luggage tag so you don't forget which number is yours.

Even though I mentioned it in the previous tip, I will mention it again: make sure you leave clothes to wear for the next morning, as well as any medication and toiletries.

Read moreWhat's the earliest time I can get off my cruise ship when it's over?

Get your photos

Spotted: New Royal Caribbean photo packages | Royal Caribbean Blog

If there is something I forget the most on the last day of the cruise, it is to print and pick up the onboard photos.

Remember all those photos you posed for onboard? The last day is when most people go to order prints and pick them up.

The final evening of the cruise will see likely a swarm of other guests doing the same thing, so ideally, try to hit up the photo area a little earlier in the day before everyone gets there at night.

Regardless of when you go, you can easily use the self-service kiosks to order prints.  The machine will give you a time to pick up the prints, so be sure to get there before it's too late.

Read moreIs a Royal Caribbean photo package worth it?

Book another cruise

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - San Juan | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you had a great time onboard, maybe a stop at NextCruise to book another vacation makes sense.

NextCruise is where you can go to book a new Royal Caribbean cruise, and they will give you the added benefit of reduced deposit and extra onboard credit.

Just like Guest Services and the photo area, the last day tends to be quite busy at NextCruise. You can book a reservation via the sign up sheet out front, or hope for an open slot as you walk by.  The earlier in the day, the more likely there will be times available to chat.

If all else fails, NextCruise is usually open the final morning of the cruise. Be sure to check with the staff for exact times.

ListenRoyal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - Booking another cruise onboard

Cash in casino chips

Royal Caribbean testing self-service casino SeaPass charge option on Harmony of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Assuming you don't go back one last time to double down, be sure to cash out your casino chips.

Royal Caribbean is quite specific that if you fail to cash in your casino chips or vouchers, they are not eligible for cash after the cruise ends.  It is quite common for guests to leave these items in their pocket and forget to cash them out later.

Whether you won big or this is all you have left, be sure to get the cash for them.

Take a Covid test

Adventure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you need a negative Covid test result to get back into your country of origin, make sure you have a test done onboard the last day of the cruise.

Royal Caribbean will provide a complimentary Covid test to any passenger that requests one, but you need to schedule it earlier than the last day. My advice is ask to book one on the first day or two of the cruise so you can be in the schedule.

Just be sure to show up for the Covid test on time, as testing is limited.

Check-in for your flightRoyal Caribbean Blog - Unofficial blog about Royal Caribbean cruises

 

If you are flying home after your cruise, it may make sense to complete the online check-in for your flight (especially if you are flying Southwest Airlines).

You can purchase a 24 hour pass for Royal Caribbean's internet onboard to do this (assuming you didn't buy a Voom package before). Suite guests can usually get the assistance of the Suite Concierge to help complete it.

If you need to print out a boarding pass or other paperwork, speak to Guest Service or the Suite Concierge.

10 must have Royal Caribbean tips & tricks for cruising with friends

In:
10 Sep 2021

Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise with friends is a great way to travel with your besties without feeling you have to be attached at the hip the entire time.  Because there is so much to do on a ship, it allows different personalities to do what they enjoy, while still being together.

Taking friends on a cruise comes with its own challenges to ensure you all have a great time onboard. The good news with a little bit of planning, you can ensure your friends enjoy the cruise without any hiccups.

Before you book a sailing or get onboard with your matching shirts, be sure to heed this advice for a great start.

Book with the same travel agent

Whether you have two or ten cabins, book everyone under the same travel agent for simplicity.

Not only could you potentially get group benefits from Royal Caribbean if you book enough cabins, but being booked under the same travel agent really makes coordinating onboard plans a lot simpler.

Travel agents make it so much easier to remind your pals it's time to make final payment, or answer any sort of billing questions with the cruise line. You love your friends, but dealing with friends and their financial situation is no fun.

In addition, a travel agent can easily link everyone's reservations together so that dining together is simple.

If there was a need to cancel or change sail dates, having the same agent makes the process much easier.

Talk about priorities

Unlike family, sometimes expressing what you really want to do with friends can be tough since you don't want to offend anyone or come off as appearing to be needy. However, you should have a good idea of what everyone wants from the sailing before you book.

There is a fine line between planning ahead and becoming burdensome with a schedule. Everyone comes in with different ideas about how much they want to to do together, or not.

Before the cruise, have a conversation about what they are looking forward to doing, especially together.  It is a good idea to figure out is this a trip where you will all hang out all day, or just meet up for drinks.

Have a communication plan

Royal Caribbean's chat feature is now available on every cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

Onboard a cruise ship, there is no cellular phone service, so you should have a plan on how everyone will chat.

Group chats in apps like Facebook or WhatsApp are very common, but you will all need to get an internet package.

You could use walkie talkies or rely on voicemails in your cabins, but these tend to be more cumbersome.

The key is to ensure you all agree on something before you get onboard so no one is left in the dark.

Dinners together

99 days of Harmony: Main Dining Room | Royal Caribbean Blog

One of the best pieces of advice for friends on a cruise is at the very least have dinner together every night.

Everyone finds their own activities to do onboard, but it is a good idea to plan to meet up for dinner each night to have a common time to meet.

Whether the main dining room, Windjammer, or specialty restaurants, have a plan for everyone to enjoy dinner together each evening for a time to reconnect and make plans for the following day.

Matching t-shirts are popular

Matching cruise shirts - Royal Caribbean Discussion - Royal Caribbean Blog

A recent trend among groups is to get matching shirts for everyone in the group.

This not only makes for great group photos, but you can easily identify everyone.  This is helpful with large groups.

There are many places online you can customized shirts, or just pick a design and buy one for everyone.

Avoid overplanning

Singapore investigating group of passengers that took their masks off on Royal Caribbean cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

It can be tempting to try to plan every minute of the cruise, but too much of a good thing applies to a cruise too.

If you try to plan too much, things can get quickly overwhelming for some friends in your group, as well as create rifts among friends.

Leave time for everyone to do their own thing, keeping in mind you could still do things together on the fly.

Get separate billing

9 important things to know about Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages | Royal Caribbean Blog

Sharing a cabin with a friend? Set up different billing methods for each person.

You can assign credit cards to specific people in the room at Guest Services, which makes settling the bill later significantly easier.

In addition, it is a good idea to make clear lines of who is picking up what tab. Shore excursions, dinners, and drink orders are all common ways you could pay for someone else, but be certain before the end of the cruise the bills all look good.

If you need to re-arrange any extra costs, a trip to Guest Services could fix that.  Alternatively, you could simply send money electronically to friends after the sailing.

Plan a time to meet on embarkation day

The bigger the group, the more likely everyone will arrive at different times to the cruise terminal on embarkation day, so pick a time to meet.

It is a good idea to pick a time in late afternoon for the meet.  Sailaway is a good time that everyone will be onboard and ready for some fun.

Fun things to pack

Here are some good ideas of things to pack to bring on a cruise with friends:

  • Door decorations (with magnets, not tape to put it up)
  • Drink koozies
  • Towel clips

Pre-book for bigger groups

Top 10 health concerns on a cruise ship Royal Caribbean's Healthy Sail Panel will address | Royal Caribbean Blog

The bigger your group, the more important pre-booking is for certain events and offerings.

Specialty restaurants, shore excursions, the escape room, and pretty much anything with limited capacity is a good idea to pre-book whenever possible.

It is not always possible to pre-book everything, but look for the options in the Cruise Planner.

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:

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - The 5 worst cruise mistakes people are making right now

In:
25 Aug 2021

Listen to the Show

There will always be cruisers making mistakes, but I wanted to highlight the worst of the worst mistakes I see people making on cruises sailing right now.

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

On this episode:
Running time:

The 7 most important links on Royal Caribbean's website

In:
17 Aug 2021

Everything is easier if you know where to look, and that includes Royal Caribbean's website.

Being self-sufficient is always a nice way to speed up things, and there are a few very handy links on Royal Caribbean's website that every cruise fan should know about to save time now and onboard the ship.

In looking around Royal Caribbean's website, I found seven pages that I think most people will need one time or another to help them ensure their upcoming cruise has no issues. There certainly are other pages that have helpful information, but these seven jumped out at me as the most commonly useful ones to bookmark.

Whether you have cruised before or this is your first sailing, here are the top web pages on Royal Caribbean's website you should know about.

Cruise Planner

Linkhttps://secure.royalcaribbean.com/cruiseplanner/

Perhaps the single most important part of Royal Caribbean's website is the Cruise Planner.

This is the place you go to manage your reservation, and purchase wifi, drink, or dining packages before your cruise.  You can also reserve time at the spa, book individual specialty restaurants, shore excursions, and other activities onboard.

Whether you booked your cruise through a travel agent or not, you can access the Cruise Planner for any sailing you have coming up, and there is usually a good assortment of options to look over at any given time.

Moreover, this is how you save money on your cruise.  When Royal Caribbean has a sale on pre-cruise purchases, they can all be booked via the Cruise Planner site.

Travel agency transfer form

Link: https://rccl.secure.force.com/directtransfers/DTTRoyal

Did you know that if you booked your cruise directly with Royal Caribbean over the phone or on their website, that you can transfer it to a travel agent later?

Royal Caribbean gives guests a grace period when they can still transfer their reservation to a travel agent to take advantage of all the services a good travel agent provides.

According to the cruise line, you can use this form up until 30 days from creation if the request is made outside of Final Payment period and the booking is not paid in full.

You should contact your new travel agent first before filling out the form so you are both on the same page about the transfer.

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

A list of the health protocols for your sailing

Link: https://www.royalcaribbean.com/the-healthy-sail-center/getting-ready-to-cruise

Health protocols for your sailing can change at a moment's notice, so you will likely want to know what to expect onboard before you arrive.

Royal Caribbean keeps a singular location for all of its published health protocols, based on where your ship is sailing from.

You can easily see a list of health protocols for your sailing, as well as get additional information about which venues will be open, proper documentation to bring, and much more.

Keep in mind these protocols are for the departure port and month specified, so if you have a cruise coming up in the future, check back later when health protocols are announced for your sailing.

Future Cruise Credit redemption

Link: https://www.royalcaribbean.com/reservation/future-cruise-credit

If you booked a cruise on your own, you can very easily redeem a future cruise credit to apply to your reservation.

So many cruisers have accrued a FCC from a canceled cruise over the last year and a half, and it is very likely you have more than one.  

Royal Caribbean added an easy to use form to apply the FCC to an existing booking.

Once you go to that link, a self-service page provides another way to redeem the credits.

If you booked with a travel agent, your travel agent can apply the credit for you, which is just one of many helpful services a good travel agent provides.

Make a payment

Linkhttps://www.royalcaribbean.com/make-a-payment

Another self-service tool for someone that booked the cruise directly is how to make a payment

While travel agents can handle this for you if you booked through them, someone that booked directly with Royal Caribbean can use this form to make final payment, or just an interstitial payment.

Shareholder discount

Linkhttps://rclshareholderbenefit.questionpro.com/

Did you know if you have at least 100 shares of Royal Caribbean Group ($RCL) stock, you can qualify for extra onboard credit on your cruise?

The exact amount of your discount will depend on the length of your sailing:

  • $250 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 14 or more nights.
  • $100 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 6 to 13 nights.
  • $50 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 5 nights or less.

All shareholder onboard credit requests must be received approximately 2 -3 weeks prior to sail date. 

Guest Special Needs form

Link: https://www.royalcaribbean.com/resources/guest-special-needs

Whether you have a food allergy, need wheelchair assistance, need a sharps container, or have a CPAP machine, there is one form you should fill out before your cruise to have it all taken care of.

Royal Caribbean's Special Needs form covers a variety of special needs guests may have, and many of these are commonly requested.  By filling out the form, you can be assured when you get onboard, the crew is prepared and ready to ensure you are properly accommodated.

Be sure to submit the Guest Special Needs Form at time of booking but no later than 30 days prior to sailing. Sign language interpreting requests must be submitted 60 days prior to sailing. 

12 must have Royal Caribbean tips & tricks for families

In:
24 Jul 2021

Royal Caribbean cruises are great vacations for families, and there are a few tips and tricks the help maximize your cruise experience.

When you go on a cruise with families, that means a mix of ages and even generations.  While lots of parents take their kids on cruises, multi-gen cruising is another popular option so that grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins can spend time together onboard.

So while there are plenty of secrets I could share that apply to just about everyone, I wanted to focus on the sort of things families should know before they go on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Her are my top 12 Royal Caribbean tips for any family going on a cruise soon.

Research vaccine rules before you sail

If you have a cruise in 2021 or 2022, more than likely there will be important vaccine protocols you should be aware to avoid any surprises at the cruise terminal.

Depending on the port you depart from, there could be vastly different vaccine requirements mandated by both Royal Caribbean and/or the local authorities for kids and adults.

Depending on when you sail, kids as young as 12 years old may be required to be fully vaccinated in order to sail.

You can check out Royal Caribbean's health protocols on their website to be up to date with what they are requiring.

Buy your kids a passport

Passports cost money and kids passports expire after just 5 years, but they are worth the investment.

Having a passport for everyone in your party (that means you should get one too) makes the check-in, embarkation, and disembarkation process so much easier.

I think one of the biggest sources of frustration for families on a cruise are the lines and steps required to check-in and out of your cruise. Having a passport makes it all faster and simpler.

Consider booking two cabins instead of one

My favorite family cruise tip is to book two cabins instead of putting everyone into one room.

The conventional thought process is for a family of four or five to book one room for everyone. This is usually what families do at hotels or resorts, so why would a cruise be different?

Unlike hotels, cabins on a cruise are short on living space, so the experience is not exactly the same in sharing a room on a ship compared to on land.

Booking two cabins not only provides more living space, you get an extra bathroom (a huge benefit if your kids are older) and separation from your kids when it's time to go to sleep.

Moreover, booking two connecting smaller rooms instead of one larger room may actually save you money.

As your travel agent to look for connecting rooms, which have a common interior door to make going between the rooms easier.

Don't buy kids a dining package

Kids get special pricing at a specialty restaurant, so buy dining packages only for the adults.

Children between the ages of 0-5 are complimentary and ages 6-12 are $10 per child at any specialty restaurant.

When you make a reservation for a restaurant onboard, let your server know the adults have dining packages, but kids don't and you will get a better price than if you bought the dining package for everyone.

Kids can order off adult menu at specialty restaurants

Speaking of specialty restaurants, the waiters do not mind offering your kids the same options as adults.

Specialty restaurants have kids menus, but if the kids want something off the adult menu, there is rarely an issue with doing so (even at their lower price).

Tips for picky eaters

If your kids are anything like mine, they can be very picky about what they will eat.

If your kids are picky eaters, don't make your dining reservations based on the lowest common dining denominator.  

One strategy is to bring the kids up to the Windjammer for dinner, then take them to Adventure Ocean for the evening. After that, the adults can go to dinner wherever they like.

If you still want to eat with your kids, you could bring food from another restaurant in (such as pizza or chicken nuggets).  Most waiters will even go as far as to grab something simple like pizza from another restaurant for the kids.

Something else you can do is ask your head waiter for additional options for the kids.  In the main dining room, they can customize a lot of options, just give them a heads up in advance to ensure the chefs have enough time to prepare something.

The bottom line is don't be shy about asking for alternative foods for your kids.

Sign up for Adventure Ocean as soon as you can

On the first day of the cruise, be sure to head up to Adventure Ocean to sign them up as soon as registration opens.

Not only does this knock out an important must-do, it ensures you can get up there before lines develop later on.  Moreover, you don't want to be that parent in line to register your kids while all the other families already did so and just want to drop their kids off.

Unfortunately you cannot pre-register your kids online before the cruise, but head up there on day one in the afternoon during the Adventure Ocean open house to meet the staff, get questions answered, and avoid time wasted later.

You can leave your kids in Adventure Ocean while you go on a shore excursion

It may feel weird to leave your kids on the ship while you go ashore, but you can safely use this option if you prefer.

Some excursions may not be open to kids under a certain age, or perhaps your kids just want to hang out onboard instead of go on a tour.  Whatever the reason, Adventure Ocean is open while your ship is in port.

If your tour begins early in the morning before Adventure Ocean is set to open, let the staff know the day before and if it is a Royal Caribbean excursion, they can ensure someone will open up Adventure Ocean for you.

The staff will not only supervise the kids, but they will take them to lunch as well.

Make sure your ship has a nursery

If you are going on a cruise with kids under 36 months old, make sure the ship you booked has a nursery.

Most Royal Caribbean cruise ships have gotten a nursery added over the last few years, but a few still do not, and I would say you should avoid those ships.

The nursery is a godsend for parents with toddlers, because it offers excellent supervised child care for children of that age.  Kids can eat, play, and even nap in the nursery, making it an important resource for parents who want a break now and then.

Just like Adventure Ocean, register your child on the first day so that you can sign up for the limited hours they have.

My favorite nursery tip: call ahead

Since my kids are out of nursery age, I can safely share this tip without risk of someone using it against me.

If your baby is ready for a nap, call the nursery and see if you can drop them off.  The nursery is open throughout the day and in a lot of cases, they have availability in the morning and afternoon because most parents book up evening hours.

What I would do is call the nursery and ask if I can drop my child off.  I'd let them know my kid is ready for a nap, and to provide whatever pre-nap routine they need (i.e. bottle, stroller, etc) and to put them down for a nap and call me when they wake up.

This frees up both me and my wife so we can enjoy some time aboard while my kid takes a nap, instead of one of us being stuck in the cabin with them.

Book a ship with water slides

While pools are fun, water slides are kings among kids, and not every Royal Caribbean ship has a water slide.

When you decide to have a pool day, kids always want something else to do other than relaxing by the pool.  Water slides have been a boon for families, since it offers them an activity kids can do over and over again.

Before you book, research to check if the ship you are looking at booking has a water slide.

Set spending limits for your kids

For older kids who carry their own SeaPass card, you may want to enable spending limits to avoid a potential problem later.

First, when checking in online, you can choose the option "No onboard expense account" to prevent your children from using their SeaPass card for onboard purchases.

Once onboard, you can stop by Guest Services onboard and set a  pre-established limit.

The arcade has its own $50 per person daily limit, although you can increase/decrease this limit to whichever amount you would like by speaking to the Arcade attendant once onboard.

10 Vision of the Seas tips, tricks and secrets

In:
27 Apr 2021

Have a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas? There is plenty onboard to enjoy for guests of all ages.

Like all cruise ships, there are a few good tips and tricks to maximize your time and money onboard.

Here are my best tips for someone sailing on Vision of the Seas.

Park Cafe is a must eat spot

There is plenty of good food onboard Vision of the Seas, but a great spot for complimentary food throughout the day is Park Cafe.

Located in the Solarium, you can find some of the best quick grab-and-go food choices here. Soup, sandwiches, dessert and more are available.

Be sure to try the famous roast beef sandwich here at least once!

Park Cafe is also a great alternative to the Windjammer on embarkation day because it will be far less crowded.

And yes, kids are allowed to go to Park Cafe, even though it is located in the adults-only Solarium area.

Don't miss the events in the Centrum

Throughout the day and night, Royal Caribbean hosts events at the base of the Centrum.

The large open space is where you will find live music, demonstrations, game shows and more.

The great thing about seeing shows in the Centrum is you can quickly see what is happening from one of the overlooking decks.  If it interests you, pull up a chair and enjoy. If not, you can move on to somewhere else onboard.

Read more: Cruise Compass archive

Free sauna and steam room

The fitness center locker rooms have a free sauna, steam room, and very large showers for anyone to use free of charge. 

The showers are great for families, and the sauna and steam rooms are lesser-known amenities open to guests on Vision of the Seas.

Restaurants included with your cruise on Vision of the Seas

Wondering where you can eat with no additional cost on Vision of the Seas?

Here is a list of options:

  • Windjammer (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Main Dining Room (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Cafe Latte-tude (Early morning until late night)
  • Park Cafe (afternoon and late night snacks)

Read moreFood on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Save money with a specialty dining package

If you plan on eating at more than 1 or 2 specialty restaurants while on Vision of the Seas, you probably should invest in a dining package.

Specialty dining packages offer a fixed cost for some, or even unlimited, specialty restaurants during your cruise.

There are three specialty restaurants on Vision of the Seas that are included with the packages:

  • Giovanni's Table
  • Chop's Grille
  • Izumi

Be sure to buy dining packages before your cruise to save even more money.

Keep in mind there may be some extra cost items at these locations, and Chef's Table is not included with the specialty dining package.

Overnight in Bermuda

Just for summer 2021 cruises, Vision of the Seas will not only sail from Bermuda, but also offer guests an overnight to explore Bermuda’s culture, history and cuisine.

The ship will offer an overnight stay in Bermuda, which means the ship acts like a floating hotel, where you can come and go as you please to provide plenty of time to enjoy everything Bermuda has to offer.

An overnight stay in any port is a special experience, and allows much more flexibility in making plans, as well as being able to enjoy the nightlife of the island.

Read Cruise Compass to see entertainment each night

There will be nightly entertainment around the ship, so be sure to read about what is offered in your Cruise Compass.

Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver a new copy of the next day's schedule.  You can also find the schedule in Royal Caribbean's app.

It is a good idea to read about what is coming up, so you can plan ahead for the must-see shows.

Download Royal Caribbean's app

Royal Caribbean's app has gone from "nice to have" to "must have" quite quickly, and it is your key for a smoother experience overall.

Not only does Royal Caribbean's app allow for a smoother and faster embarkation process, it makes managing your schedule super easy.

Royal Caribbean has even said that its app is required, so download the app before you leave home and ensure it is set up prior to arriving.

Read moreThe Royal Caribbean App: Everything you should know

Register kids for Adventure Ocean on the first day

If you have kids, there is complimentary kids programming that is supervised and a lot of fun.

Children are separated into different age groups to ensure programming is appropriate:

  • Aquanauts: 3-5 years old
  • Explorers: 6-8 years old
  • Voyagers: 9-11 years old
  • Teens: 12-14, 15-17 years old.

Adventure Ocean is run every day, but you want to register them on the first day of your cruise.

There will be an open house held (usually in the early afternoon) of the first day of the cruise, so be sure to go up to meet the staff and meet the staff. Plus, it will save you time later.

Read moreCruising with kids on Royal Caribbean

Make plans for your visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay

Summer sailings on Vision of the Seas will stop at Royal Caribbean's private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay, and it is a must-see destination.

The key to having an amazing day here is to pre-purchase any add-ons you want to try.

CocoCay has so many great things to do, including a water park, zip lines, cabanas to rent, beaches, and even a giant pool.

Read morePerfect Day at CocoCay prices and costs

Be sure to check out what is available to book before your cruise.  If something is of interest, you should absolutely pre-book it to secure a spot. Many amenities can easily sell out, or cost more if you wait to book onboard the ship.

You should also know that there is plenty of great things to do at CocoCay without spending a dime extra. The island's beaches and pool are included with your cruise fare, along with most of the dining establishments.

Read moreTop 10 Perfect Day at CocoCay secrets and tricks

Mailbag: What is the earliest flight I should book after the cruise?

In:
10 Mar 2021

How do you know if you are cutting it too close when booking your flights home after your cruise is over?

Each week I answer questions our readers have sent to the RoyalCaribbeanBlog mailbag to answer for the benefit of everyone.

I'm looking at flights for my cruise, but I'm not sure what time to pick for a flight home.  What is the earliest flight I should pick after my cruise is over? - Ray V.

The issue with picking a flight after your cruise is you want to find a flight that gives you enough time to disembark the ship and get to the airport to make the flight on time, but at the same time, not booking a flight later in the day so you essentially spend all day in the airport waiting around.

Finding the right time for a flight home also has a lot to do with the port your cruise ends at, as some ports are significantly closer to an airport than others. Fort Lauderdale International Airport is literally next door to Port Everglades, while Orlando International Airport is about a 45 minute drive from Port Canaveral.

Read moreWhy you shouldn't fly to your cruise the same day it begins

The first part of the decision is figuring out roughly what is the earliest time you could get to the airport.

Your itinerary will list a time your cruise ends, but that time is not an indication of what time you can get off the ship. Just because it says your ship will return at 6am, does not mean everyone can start leaving the ship at 6am. Moving thousands of people off a ship, moving thousands of pieces of luggage, sending thousands of people through customs and immigration takes time.

The disembarkation process is always a bit ambiguous because there are a few factors that are always unpredictable:

  • What time exactly the ship will dock
  • How long it will take local authorities to clear the vessel to disembark
  • What time the ship will begin allowing guests off the ship
  • How many other people will be ahead of you
  • Delays in the cruise terminal

If you get up early, take advantage of the self-assist disembarkation process (where you take your own luggage off the ship), and things go as planned, many cruisers have been able to disembark early enough to make flights as early as 9am.

Read moreSelf-disembarkation on Royal Caribbean cruises

You should also consider your group and realistically estimate how quickly you can move.  An adult couple can get up and in line a lot faster than families with kids, or large groups traveling together.

However, delays due to bad weather, customs taking longer than expected, medical emergencies, and a variety of other unexpected problems can easily back up the entire process.

Ultimately, you have to weigh the level of risk you deem acceptable in making a flight. No one wants to sit around an airport all day, but missing a flight because you are late is an even worse fate.

You should also consider the airport's proximity to the port, time of year (busy holiday seasons means longer lines at the airport), whether you have TSA PreCheck (or other program) to get through security, and other factors.

If you take a later flight, you can sleep a little bit later, enjoy a stress-free breakfast, and otherwise not drive yourself crazy with concern you might be late.

For cruises in the United States, the general rule of thumb has always been you are likely safe to book a flight after 11am, and noon or later is absolutely achievable.

Some cruisers will opt to stay an extra night in the city their cruise ends at just to avoid any hassle with getting to the airport (and get an extra day of vacation).

The unknown: post-Covid planning

The advice about picking flights home spelled out in this post is all based on how we traditionally planned cruises before the entire cruise industry shutdown due to Covid-19.  So what will change going forward after cruises restart again?

Right now, we still do not know the extent of changes guests can expect onboard and if there will be longer lines and/or delays in getting off a ship once it concludes.

While Royal Caribbean has not confirmed anything yet, many guests have noticed later than usual check-in times for their upcoming cruises, which may point to the disembarkation process taking longer. Or it may mean the ship will take longer to clean between sailings. Or it may mean the app is acting up and there is no change at all.

No one knows yet what to expect, but my advice is if you need to book a flight before cruises restart, picking a later time in the afternoon is your safest bet.

More mailbag questions:

10 ways to overcome common cruise ship mistakes

In:
03 Feb 2021

Anyone who has gone on a cruise has likely encountered a problem that in hindsight probably could have been avoided.

Not all mistakes you can make on a cruise are epic disasters, but running into an issue can put a damper on your day and leave you a bit frustrated.

Unfortunately, mistakes happen.  The challenge is knowing what to do when you encounter these problems and adjust to overcome them easily. Here are 10 common mistakes cruisers encounter and how to make it all better.

No plans for what to do in a port

Ideally you would have done a little bit of research into the port of call you are visiting on your cruise to learn about what the popular things are to do there, and which excursion might give you the best value.

If you skipped that step and are on a cruise ship without a clue what to do in the port you are going to visit, all hope is not lost.

This might be a good time to purchase the internet package onboard because 10 minutes of googling could at least point you in the right direction. If the weather looks nice, maybe search for the best beach to visit.  If your crew wants to explore the city, look up the best bars, museums and spot for lunch.

You could also talk to crew members onboard.  Most crew have been to the ports you are visiting many times and can make good recommendations.

If all else fails, you could head down to the Shore Excursion desk to see what tours are available. There may be a line, so be sure to look for a pamphlet with all of the tours available on the desk so you can look at that while you wait to speak to someone.

Read moreA complete guide to picking the perfect shore excursions

Burnout

Believe it or not, but there are some people who think you will be bored on a cruise because there is not enough to do.

The reality is there is a ton, and it is very easy to start ovedoing it.  "Burning the candle on both ends" is the euphemism for waking up early to get the party started, and staying up late so you don't miss a thing.

Trying to do it all can lead to frustration instead of fun, especially if not everyone in your group is on the same wave length as you.

It is nearly impossible to do every single activity on a single sailing, so your best bet is to prioritize the must-do activities onboard and then come back for another sailing later to do more. 

Lots of people have had amazing cruise experiences by sleeping in, relaxing by the pool, and otherwise taking it easy. No one said a fabulous vacation can only be one where you are hiking, ATV-ing, and running around for 7 days.

Read moreTop 9 bad mistakes to make on a Royal Caribbean cruise

No cash

While Royal Caribbean is cashless onboard, you will need cash in the ports you visit.

As someone who relies heavily on credit cards at home, it is easy to forget you need cash until it is too late.

Royal Caribbean provides two easy ways to get cash onboard:

  • ATM Machine
  • Casino teller

Depending on how much you are taking out, one of these options can be cheaper than the other.  The ATM will hit you with a fee (and likely your bank too), whereas the casino will hit you with a 5% convenience fee.

Read moreThe worst cruise packing mistakes to avoid

Billing discrepancies

Whether your gratuities are being charged after you prepaid them, your stateroom is missing something you ordered, or something else is not what you expected, don't lose your cool trying to sort it out.

While many times these issues can be easily resolved with a trip to Guest Services, don't forget your travel agent is still available to assist.

One of the many reasons I love using a good travel agent is because they provide services before and during the cruise.  If there is a billing issue, a quick email (or call if you have WiFi calling) to your travel agent can sort out a lot of issues.

Read more10 mistakes travel agents see people make going on a cruise ship

Food service is slow

If you are in the main dining room or a specialty restaurant and it just seems to be taking much too long, you do not need to just "deal with it."

There are plenty of reasons why service can slow down, and sometimes it is a logistical issue, sometimes a technical issue, and sometimes a result of bad luck.

Either way, give your waiter a chance to either address the issue or at least acknowledge things are not going as planned.  But if you are not satisfied, feel free to speak to the head waiter.

You can either ask your waiter to speak to the head waiter, or you could look for them around the restaurant and waive them over.

Calmly explain the issue you are encountering and inquire what they can do to assist.

The staff want your dining experience to go smoothly, and if things go from "a little bit slow" to "what happened to our waiter/food", then you might want to say something.

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

Reservations are booked up

If you are trying to get into a comedy show, stage performance or any other ticketed event and it is sold out, do not give up all hope.

Seating capacity is limited in many venues onboard, so shows running out of tickets are not uncommon.

If you are staying in a suite, the first person to speak to is the suite concierge.  The concierge is a great resource in seeing if there are additional show times or even a waitlist to be put on if something opens up.

You can also wait in the standby line for pretty much any show.  Go to the theater entrance 15 minutes before show time and let the crew member admitting guests in you would like to wait to see if there are any no-shows.

Since tickets are free, it is not uncommon for someone who made reservations not to show up because they are having too much fun at the pool or something else onboard.

Read moreWhen can I prebook entertainment, dining and more for my Royal Caribbean cruise?

You need internet access

Obviously you can purchase internet access on your cruise, but what if you need wifi for one or two quick tasks?

You can purchase a 24 hour pass on the ship for wifi access, but the cost is pretty high.

If you are unwilling to eat the cost of a wifi package on the ship, consider waiting until you get to a port you are visiting.

Many restaurants, bars and cafes offer complimentary internet access if you buy anything.  Some shops even offer completely free wifi, although their performance tends to be mediocre at best.

Ask a crew member onboard for recommendations in ports where you can get free (or nearly free) wifi.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean WiFi: Guide to Internet at sea

You get seasick

It is rare, but getting seasick can happen to anyone.

The good news is it is very easily treated and you do not need to shell out hundreds of dollars for a visit to the onboard medical staff.

The simplest way is to go to Guest Services and ask for seasick medicine.  They will give you for no cost a packet of meclizine that will quickly treat the symptoms of being seasick.

If you want to avoid medicine, try going to the Windjammer to get a green apple or a food with ginger.

Be sure to also drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Taking a nap can also help make you feel better while whichever therapy you chose takes effect.

Read moreHow to not get seasick on a cruise

Paying full price for a specialty restaurant

You thought you did not need to eat at the steakhouse or sushi restaurant, but then you got onboard and it smells amazing.

There is not a full proof plan for avoiding paying full price for a specialty restaurant, but there are a couple of strategies that might work.

First and foremost, see if you can buy a specialty dining package.  These packages allow you to pay a flat fee to dine at a set amount of restaurants and these will absolutely save you money compared to trying to eat at the same amount and paying the cover charge.

Another strategy is to keep an eye out for waiters that are walking around the ship to get new reservations.  These crew members are easy to spot because they are dressed in their restaurant outfit and holding a menu.

If you spot them, kindly ask if there is any discount if you sign up to eat at their restaurant.  Often they can sweeten the deal if you commit to a reservation on the spot.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean specialty dining packages guide

Drink package mistakes

If you buy an unlimited drink package, be sure to maximize the value by doing a few easy things.

Always ask for a bottle of water with a drink order: Even if you aren't thirsty enough for water, you can always get a bottle of water with a drink order.  Bring that bottle back to your stateroom and start stacking them up so when you go on shore excursions, you do not have to pay for water off the ship.

Specify the brand of liquor: When you order a cocktail or mixed drink, ask for which brand of liquor to use. This avoids them putting the cheaper option in your drink.

Use your drink packages at specialty restaurants: Your drink package not only works at bars and lounges, but also in specialty restaurants and the main dining room. 

Read moreHow to avoid the most common cruise drink package mistakes

21 Royal Caribbean cruise tips you'll need in 2021

In:
14 Jan 2021

There is no doubt that going on a cruise (whenever that may occur) in 2021 is going to be very different than in the past.

No one knows when cruises might actually restart, but there are a few important things you can do during this time to prepare for a summer, fall, or winter 2021 cruise.

These tips are mostly based on being prepared, rather than tips for onboard the ship.  Until it becomes clearer that actual sailings will occur outside of Singapore on Quantum of the Seas, this list is about the important things we should all know, be aware of, and look for in the coming months.

Here are 21 tips you will need for planning any cruise vacation this year.

1. Assume no sailing is safe to go: No one has a crystal ball, and there is no indication that any particular sailing is a definitely lock to go. 

Certainly cruises scheduled for later in the year seem to have a higher likelihood of happening simply because that gives more time for the cruise line to get approval of new protocols, as well as the vaccine to permeate among the populous.

But never assume your sailing is a lock to happen.

2. Your final payment date is unchanged: While there are lots of new flexible policies to change your mind about your cruise, you still have to make final payment 90 days before your cruise.

Royal Caribbean has not budged on this, so plan to make final payment just like in past years.

Read moreShould I make final payment for my cruise?

3. See what other cruise lines are doing: One of the best indicators of what Royal Caribbean might do thus far has been to keep an eye on its competitors.

Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line have consistently cancelled cruises and changed some policies that have eventually been matched by Royal Caribbean.  

Other cruise lines are less important to pay attention to, either because they are owned by one of these lines, or their market share is too small to really factor into what Royal Caribbean might do.

Given Royal Caribbean's partnership with NCL on the Healthy Sail Panel, keeping an eye on the other cruise lines is a good way to potentially get a heads up on what is next for Royal Caribbean.

4. Always book refundable cruise fare: There is nothing wrong with booking a cruise for 2021 or 2022, but be sure to book refundable cruise fare.

It has never been so important to have flexible cancellation terms, so skip non-refundable cruise fare and go for refundable.

5. Get travel insurance: If it does look like your cruise might happen, now might be the best time to invest in a travel insurance plan.

Travel insurance is a smart investment for many people because it covers you when you go on your vacation and some calamity were to happen, but travel insurance is not a catch-all for vacation plan changes prior to the start of vacation. Read the policy to be clear on what it covers.

6. Consider waiting longer before booking: Since the short term future is unclear, there is less risk than in previous years for waiting a little bit longer to book a cruise.

While waiting to book your cruise might mean not getting the most rock bottom prices, demand is still soft enough that you can afford to wait a little bit closer to your cruise to pull the trigger on putting down a deposit.

7. Book refundable airfare: Just like your cruise fare, any flights you book should be able to be cancelled.

While the airlines have generally adopted far more flexible change policies, such as no fees on changed bookings these days, getting your money back is an entirely different issue.

Before you book a flight, consider if you ought to wait a little bit longer to ensure your cruise plans are firmed up, as well as what will happen if you book a flight and then want to change your mind.

8. Watch the Cruise with Confidence program: Royal Caribbean offers generous cancellation terms with its Cruise with Confidence program, but keep an eye on if/when it is set to expire or gets extended.

Cruise with Confidence is the option that allows you to cancel your cruise up to 48 hours before the sailing with no penalty, as well as Lift and Shift it to next year.

Royal Caribbean has demonstrated thus far that the longer the shutdown continues, they will keep Cruise with Confidence running.

9. Use a travel agent: If you still are not using a travel agent, you are doing yourself a great disservice.

Travel agents have been so incredibly helpful and with the changing policies and cruise cancellations, they are absolutely essential now. Get over the fact you cannot change the reservation yourself and use a good travel agent to save time and perhaps even money.

10. Don't be afraid to ask your travel agent for help: In addition to using a travel agent to book a cruise, they are there to assist with other questions too.

No one has all the answers, but travel agents get looped in by Royal Caribbean with what is happening right now, and have a good view of the changing landscape of cruises.

If you end up punting on the cruise, travel agents can also book you at resorts around the world.

Read more10 mistakes travel agents see people make going on a cruise ship

11. Download the Royal Caribbean App: If your cruise does sail, you will absolutely need the Royal Caribbean app.

Royal Caribbean has indicated that its app is required when cruises restart, because of all the new features aimed at keeping you healthy and saving you time.

12. Muster drill will be very different: Royal Caribbean has radically changed its muster drill, so expect a completely new safety drill.

Travelers will be able to review the information at their own time prior to setting sail, eliminating the need for the traditional large group assemblies. 

After reviewing safety information individually, guests will complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will verify that all steps have been completed and answer questions. Each of the steps will need to be completed prior to the ship’s departure, as required by international maritime law.

One on the cruise ship, guests have a set time (indicated by a timer in the app) during which muster drill must be completed by all of the passengers and, in response, a message is transmitted to each mobile device that the muster drill has commenced.

13. Expect more cancelled cruises: Even if everything goes perfectly, Royal Caribbean will not restart its cruises with every ship returning to service at once.

More cancellations are likely, so keep track of the latest cancellations.

14. You don't have to make a decision immediately after cruises are cancelled: If your cruise is cancelled, you do not need to choose what to do with the reservation right away.

Royal Caribbean gives everyone a few weeks, so take at least a few hours or days to decide if you want a refund, future cruise credit or lift and shift it.

15. Lift and Shift is a great deal: If you want to put off your cruise until next year, Lift and Shift has proven to be the most economic option out there.

Lift and Shift protects the price you paid, and with rising cruise prices on 2022 sailings, being able to lock in your price from your old cruise is a major advantage.  Consider Lift and Shift as your first option when deciding how to cancel a cruise.

16. Don't wait to renew your passport: For a while passport service was closed, but it is back, albeit slow.

If your passport is coming up for renewal anytime soon, you should get a head start on getting it renewed in anticipation of delays due to the current health crisis.

17. Check-in times might actually matter: Online check-in for your cruise used to be a formality, but now it could be very important.

Expect boarding times to become much more rigid going forward. Passengers will be given an embarkation time and will likely not be let into the terminal until that given time.

This is about managing crowds in the cruise terminal, and onboard the ship to allow for social distancing.

18. Expect to wear a mask (and other changes): Yes, you are going to have to wear a mask on your cruise in 2021, along with a slew of other changes.

Royal Caribbean has not announced all the new health policies and protocols for cruises from the United States or Europe, but you should absolutely expect a variety of new rules, including social distancing, mask wearing, daily testing and more.

19. Stay aware of travel restrictions: Stay on top of your state/province/country travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, especially for returning home after a trip.

20. Full service buffet: Expect the Windjammer Buffet to exist, albeit you will not be serving yourself.

The days of some passengers picking up a piece of food, inspecting it, and returning it to the tray are not coming back anytime soon.

When you go through the buffet, a crew member will serve you the food instead of you doing it yourself.

21. Be flexible: There are bound to be more changes coming in 2021 so remember to stay flexible during your sailing.

Subscribe to Secrets, Tips and Tricks