Secrets, Tips and Tricks

10 tips for saving money on booking a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
12Nov2019

Anyone booking a Royal Caribbean cruise is going to want to know how to save some money. The price of a cruise will vary depending on a lot of factors, but there is always an opportunity to keep more cash in your pcket.

Cruise fares vary considerably, and insiders know there are a few tried-and-true ways to keep the cost of your next Royal Caribbean cruise low and save some of your money for other things (like spending it onboard your cruise).

1. Book Early

Booking early is one of the best strategies to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  As more and more people book a cruise, inventory drops and prices go up.  

Generally speaking, booking early is the safest and most reliable way to save on the price of your cruise. Booking more than a year in advance will garner you the lowest rates for quite some time and get you on the cruise you specifically want.  Heck, it's likely to even get you the best prices on even the most sought after staterooms.

Booking early also affords you the ability to track prices after you book because you can always apply any cheaper rates to your cruise up until final payment. 

2. Book at the last minute

This tip is clearly the opposite of our first tip but when all else fails, Royal Caribbean sometimes offers good prices on a cruise in the last couple of months leading up to the cruise. Some cruise fares drop to really absurd prices that make living at home more expensive. 

If you have the means to get to the port in short notice without incurring high travel costs, last minute cruises can be a great choice.  The problem with last minute sailings is you will have limited selection of itineraries and/or stateroom options.

Last minute cruises are usually past the final payment date, so booking the cruise will require full payment up front but the deals that are out there can be substatial if you can time it right.

3. Research your discounts

Royal Caribbean offers numerous discounts to different groups of people and demographis, so it is worth researching if any apply to you.

Regional and military discounts are offered from time to time to the general public while past Royal Caribbean cruises can get discounts based on their level of membership in the Crown and Anchor Society.

Crown and Anchor Society offers Savings Certificates that are available by logging into the Royal Caribbean site and seeing which certificates are currently available.  Select sailings will receive anywhere from $25 to hundreds of dollars off their cruise, which is usually stackable with other discounts.

4. Consider different room(s)

Sometimes booking two staterooms instead of one can actually save you money.  Larger families or those seeking more space may find two inside cabins cheaper than a larger room/suite.  This is especially true on older Royal Caribbean ships, where large balconies and suites are in less abundance.

Likewise, family staterooms and some suites may become available to the general public if unbooked and can offer lots of space for less cost.  It's important to consider all cabin categories before deciding which is the best choice.

5. Consider your time of year

Supply and demand dominates Royal Caribbean pricing strategy, which means cruises during Christmas, Spring Break and the Summer can much more expensive than other times of the year.

If you have the flexibility to go when kids are still in school, you can save lots of money.  Likewise, cruising during hurricane season can net you savings along with immediately after or before major holidays when most people do not have vacation time.

The difference in price between one week and the next can be tremendous, so if you can swing it, consider alternative weeks as a way to reduce the cruise fare.  Combining this tip with our first tip of booking early can save you even more.

6. Older ships are a great value

Royal Caribbean loves to advertise their newest cruise ships but the older class of ships are still great options for a cruise vacation and are prices much less on average.

Royal Caribbean has been working on refurbishing every one of its older cruise ships with amenities found first on the Oasis-class and Vision and Radiance class ships now offer modern upgrades and options that have breathed new life into these ships.

Even with the upgrades, older Royal Caribbean ships will have more competitive prices and are often located in smaller cruise markets that may mean a shorter trip to the port for you.  

And did we mention the older ships are still a lot of fun?  Radiance class ships are beautiful with their glass protected views of the ocean and Vision class ships pack a lot of fun into each vessel. 

7. Look for booking incentives

These days the fare you pay for your Royal Caribbean cruise may not change all that much but what you get for booking can make the difference between an average priced cruise and a cheap cruise.

Booking incentives like onboard credit, free gratuities and complimentary unlimited drink packages can save you hundreds of dollars and it's important to see what offers are out there.  

Travel agents are often the best people to assist in finding these booking incentive deals.  

These days, most cruises can offer you at least some sort of booking incentive and every dollar saved counts!

8. Use your credit card rewards

Credit card rewards programs have never been more competitive and if you use credit cards to pay for every day purchases, you can rack up savings for your next Royal Caribbean cruise quickly. 

Royal Caribbean has partnered with Bank of America to offer a credit card that allows everyone to earn points towards onboard credits and even a free cruise.

Other credit cards also offer cash rewards that can be used towards your Royal Caribbean cruise.  By saving your points, you can cash out your reward points close to your cruise date to help reduce the cost of your cruise fare or help pay for things on your cruise.

9. Book your next Royal Caribbean cruise onboard

Royal Caribbean will reward new bookings made onboard its ships with bonus incentives.

Depending on how far in advance you book, the length of the sailing, stateroom type and fare type, you can get hundreds of dollars in bonus onboard credit. While the cruise fare price is the same onboard as back at home, the difference is Royal Caribbean will give you extra money to spend onboard.

10. Use a travel agent

Travel agents have their fingers on the pulse of what's happening in the world of Royal Caribbean offers.  They get word of new offers first and because it's their job to book cruises all day long, they know the system in an out.

I have used a travel agent to book every one of my Royal Caribbean cruises and I can't tell you how much time they have saved me, as well as money.  A good Royal Caribbean travel agent can be your partner in the planning process as well as saving you money.

I will admit not all travel agents are the same, and some are definitely better than others, so it is important to ask questions of them.  The good ones will be able to find the best deals for you and track any new deals that come out that can lower your cruise fare.

Our sponsor travel agency, and one I recommend, is MEI Travel.

17 Royal Caribbean tips repeat cruisers always use

In:
06Nov2019

Like many other cruisers, I love to share, read, and learn tricks of cruising. Large or small, every tip and cruise hack you can learn helps make your next Royal Caribbean cruise a bit easier.

With that in mind, I am sharing the one tip or trick that the repeat cruises that frequent our message boards use/love the most.

1. Arrive to the embarkation port early

The day your cruise is scheduled to begin, arrive to the cruise terminal in the morning to maximize your time onboard on the first day.

It seems most people arrive to the cruise terminal after lunch, but you can begin checking into your cruise usually around 10am, with boarding process usually beginning around 11am. Arriving early to the cruise terminal means you get onboard sooner and more time on the ship.

2. Bring a USB port outlet for more charging space.

Between phones, tablets and every device you may have, there is always a need to charge something and power outlets are limited on a cruise ship.

Surge protectors and power strips tend to be confiscated for being a fire hazard, but a good USB outlet is perfectly safe to bring along.

I recommend a USB outlet similar to this one. (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you)

3. Bring bathing suits on embarkation day

One of the best times to enjoy the pools and water slides on a Royal Caribbean cruise is embarkation day. Most guests do not have their bathing suits with them, and that means very little competition for the aquatic fun onboard.

You can opt to either wear your bathing suits onboard, or keep it in your carry-on luggage and change in a restroom.

4. Once onboard put your phone in airplane mode

To avoid crazy roaming fees, once you get onboard the ship, the best thing you can do is place your phone into airplane mode.

By doing so, you will still be able to use the ship's WiFi, but avoid your carrier charging you exorbitant fees for roaming on another network, either at sea or in one of the countries you visit.

5. Bring a pen and a highlighter with you

You never know when you want to write a thank you note to a crew member, or highlight an activity that you do not want to miss in the Cruise Compass.

6. Study the Compass before the day starts.  

Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver the next day's Cruise Compass to your room.

Your best bet to avoid missing out on an activity you really want to do is read it before you get going during the day.

7. Buy magnetic hooks

Something you may not realize about your cabin is how little opportunity there is to hang stuff.  By investing in a pack of strong magnetic hooks, you can place them around the room to hang your hats, swimsuits or whatever else needs to be hung.

Your stateroom walls are made out of metal, which means you can simply stick a magnet onto a wall or ceiling.

Here are some magnetic hooks you can order. (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you)

8. Speak up if there is a problem

If something is not as expected or disappointing, do not just accept it and let it ruin your cruise vacation. Instead, speak up while onboard and nicely inform crew members of the issue, and ask how it can be resolved.

The crew members want to make your cruise exceptional, and will do what they can to make it right. The bottom line is do not hesitate to speak up if there is an issue.

9. Book anything you can in advance via the Cruise Planner

This sounds so simple, but booking activities, dining and more in advance via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site will make your cruise vacation easier.  On Oasis or Quantum Class ships, you can even pre-book entertainment to reserve admission into the event.

Keep in mind that you can always change your mind later, but having something locked in is better than nothing.  

10. Look for deals even if there is no sale

Royal Caribbean will run sales periodically, but do not limit yourself to just those sales to find deals.  Check the Cruise Planner site regularly, even if there is no sale.  You never know what you may find!

11. Use a trusted travel agent

One of my favorite bits of advice is to use a good travel agent to book and manage your cruise.  A good travel agent is more than somebody to take your credit card details and reserve a cabin.  Travel agents are your advocate throughout the cruise process, and are invaluable if an issue should arise at any point.  More to the point, travel agents will absolutely save you time, and have the potential to save you money along the way.

Since a good travel agent should cost you nothing extra to use (the cruise line pays them a commission), you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by using one.

12. Figure out what kind of a traveler you are

A really good bit of advice is to figure out what you like to do, and craft the cruise around that.  

Are you an active, out and about person, or a room dweller? Are you in it for the ports, or are you in it for the ship? Are you a foodie, or are you fine with just the main dining room and Windjammer?

Knowing what you like (and do not like) impacts everything from your room selection, to your excursions, to your daily planning.  By figuring out your preferences, you can pick out a better cruise that matches what you want.

13. Do not wait for the elevator

The elevator is great, but using the stairs can be a lot faster, plus it can help burn off some of those vacation calories.

If you are going up or down just a few decks, opting for the stairs will likely get you there quicker.  This is especially true when shows or events let out and many other guests descend upon the elevators.

14. Bring Downy Wrinkle Release 

Did you know that there are no self-serve laundry options nor any clothing irons on Royal Caribbean cruise ships?  The only option if you want your clothes pressed or cleaned is to send them out for dry cleaning.

If you are concerned about your clothes being wrinkle-free after you unpack onboard, invest in a good wrinkle release spray  (This link contains an affiliate link, which means I get a commission for purchases made. There is no additional cost to you).

You simply spray any clothing to remove any unwanted creases or wrinkles.  Plus, it has the added bonus of making your clothing smell good again, which can be an issue if your luggage that you store in your basement/attic has an odd odor to it.

15. Avoid getting seasick with an easy remedy

While you can take over-the-counter medication to combat nausea caused by motion in the ocean, mild seasickness can be remedied with a green apple. Seriously.

Green apples are a natural remedy that crew and guests use, along with crackers, to help ease an uneasy stomach. 

You will find green apples in the Windjammer, so it might be a good idea to take a couple to keep your stateroom.

16. Look for Kids Sail Free deals

Families looking to book a Royal Caribbean cruise should keep an eye out for Royal Caribbean's kids sail free deals.

Royal Caribbean offers promotions where kids under the age of 13 staying in the same room as two adults can qualify for free cruise fare.  There are a lot of blackout dates, but if you can make it work with your schedule, the kids sail free deal is among the most lucrative promotions offered.

There is usually a kids sail free promotion every few months.

17. Talk to the crew members

Beyond letting the crew take your drink orders, or asking where the nearest restroom is, be sure to strike up conversations with crew members you encounter.

Your cabin attendant is usually one for a quick chat. You might learn a thing or two, and it can really make someone's day.

Video: Top things the pros wish they knew before taking a cruise!

In:
17Oct2019

At one point, everyone who has taken a cruise was a first time cruiser, and we all have a few tips and tricks we knew before we stepped foot onboard.

In our brand new RoyalCaribbeanBlog video, our readers share one thing they wish they knew before taking their first cruise.

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What do YOU wish you knew before you cruised?

Video: How to get free drinks on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
13Aug2019

Did you know Royal Caribbean regularly gives out free alcoholic beverages on their cruise? We have the top seven ways to score a free drink in our brand new video!

We are all trying to save a little bit of money and keep that bar bill down, so this week Matt shares seven tried-and-true methods of getting an alcoholic beverage on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Did you love this video? We have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

Have you subscribed to our YouTube Channel yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What is your favorite way to get a free drink on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Video: Royal Caribbean food secrets — Discounts, tips and more!

In:
25Jul2019

We love a little intrigue as much as the next person, but nothing beats finding out about a secret, right? Today, we are talking about dining on Royal Caribbean in our latest RoyalCaribbeanBlog video.

For instance, did you know you on Oasis Class ships you can enjoy breakfast at Johnny Rockets without any additional cost?

We also have ways to avoid lines at the Windjammer buffet stations, getting a discount on a specialty restaurant, where your drink packages work and a lot more.  Check out this video for our tips and tricks!

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What are your favorite Royal Caribbean dining secrets? Share them with us in the comments below!

Top 10 Perfect Day at CocoCay secrets and tricks

In:
23May2019

Royal Caribbean's private island in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay, has caught a lot of cruisers' attention with all of the great activities and things to do.

If you are planning your own visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay, then here are our top ten tips and tricks for visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay.

1. Your drink package works at Perfect Day at CocoCay

If you purchase a Royal Caribbean drink package for your cruise, you can use the drink package benefits while at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

This means if you have the Deluxe Beverage Package, you can enjoy unlimited alcoholic beverages, along with bottled water, sodas and more. Likewise, the Royal Refreshment and Soda Package benefits extend to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Just like on the ship, souvenir cups or drinks served in pineapples/coconuts are not included with your drink package benefits.  If you have the Deluxe Beverage Package, you can get a discount on the souvenir cup.  Or you can ask for the drink in a regular cup to pay no additional charge.

2. Your Voom package works at Perfect Day at CocoCay

If you have a Voom internet package, you will have internet connectivity at Perfect Day at CocoCay.  

WiFi coverage extends across the island, which means you can stay connected and share photos or videos with friends back home.  Heck, you can even post updates on our message boards!

3. Best times for shortest water slide lines

Thrill Waterpark is home to Perfect Day at CocoCay's incredible water slides, and as you might imagine, a lot of cruisers are going to want to try them all.  While lines for the slides are usually quite manageable, here are the best times to try the slides to have a minimal wait:

  • Before 11am
  • After 3pm

4. Secret menu item at Snack Shack

Snack Shack serves up some great food, but they also have a menu item that is not listed on the printed menu. If you ask nicely, you can get a chicken parmigiana sandwich that is essentially a cross between the crispy chicken sandwich, mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce.

5. Buy Thrill waterpark admission before the cruise to save money

If you want to go to Thrill Waterpark, you will absolutely spend less money if you pre-purchase it before your cruise.

Royal Caribbean sells its waterpark passes via the Cruise Planner site and regularly puts the tickets on sale.  If you want to save money (that is everyone), buy your tickets before you board the ship.

6. There is lots to do that costs nothing extra

There is a lot of attention for the activities on Perfect Day at CocoCay that costs extra, but there is a lot of fun things to do that costs absolutely nothing extra.

First and foremost, you can walk around Perfect Day at CocoCay without paying extra.  Just like any port of call, you can walk off the ship and explore on your own.

Here is a list of things that is included with your cruise fare when you visit Perfect Day at CocoCay:

  • Splashaway Bay
  • Captain Jill's Galleon
  • Skipper's Grill
  • Chill Grill
  • Snack Shack
  • Oasis Lagoon pool (Beach  chairs, umbrellas and towels)
  • Chill Island (Beach  chairs, umbrellas and towels)
  • South Beach (Beach  chairs, umbrellas and towels)
  • Sports Courts
  • Fitness Classes
  • Freshwater showers
  • Tram service
  • Beach access wheelchairs

7. Free tram service around the island

Keep an eye out for the complimentary trams that are found around Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Beginning when you walk down the pier, you will find tram service to take you down the pier to save some steps (you will have plenty at Thrill Waterpark).

Once on the island, there is complimentary tram service that can take you all corners of Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

As a bonus, many of the trams are solar powered!

8. If you want a quiet spot, go to Chill Island

If your idea of a fun day is quiet time getting away from it all, head to Chill Island.  Chill Island is accessible via the green pathway that is towards the left side when you walk onto Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Once at Chill Island, keep to the left side of the area for pristine ocean views that has no music or the sounds of people at the pool or water park.  Instead, you will find only the sound of the ocean waves.

9. DIY Ice cream sandwiches

You will find self-serve soft serve ice cream machines at Perfect Day, along with chocolate chip cookies.  See where I am going with this?

Grab two cookies, dispense ice cream between the two and combine for an awesome dessert.

10. Keep an eye out for chickens, iguanas and birds

This is a fun tidbit, but Perfect Day at CocoCay is home to more than just beautiful views.  If you walk enough of the island, it is not uncommon to see wild chickens roaming the grounds, along with iguanas that sometimes get close to the dining areas to see if any scraps of food rolled away.

Seagulls can also be found flying around, so be sure to keep an eye on your food.

Regardless of the animal, please do not feed any of them.

Did we miss any Perfect Day at CocoCay secrets? Share them in our comments!

Top 10 Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas hidden secrets

In:
04Mar2019

Navigator of the Seas is a classic Royal Caribbean ship that offers as much for guests to see and do as it is a tremendous value.

In 2019, the cruise line invested $115 million in upgrades and, and we have compiled our list of the best secrets that can be overlooked on Navigator of the Seas.

1. Hidden room in Playmakers

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade is a great spot to enjoy pub food, drinks and even a sporting event on television, and if you and your crew are interested in a spot away from the rest of the crowd, check out the Owner’s Box VIP room.

Located to the far right of the bar area, the Owner’s Box VIP room is a first come, first served area that is perfect for friends to watch the game, enjoy drinks and feel like you have your own special spot of the bar.

2. You can visit the helipad

Whether you are looking for the perfect spot for sailaway, or just a great place to enjoy the view, Navigator of the Seas' helipad is the perfect location.

Located on the bow, guests can walk to the helicopter pad and enjoy the unobstructed views that you can only get from the helicopter pad. 

From the helicopter pad, guests can enjoy a near 360-degree view of what is surrounding Navigator of the Seas.

To access the helicopter pad, go outside on deck 5 and then walk forward, climb up a set of stairs and continue walking forward until you reach the helicopter pad.

3. Hidden door to the helipad

Speaking of the helipad, if you want to avoid the stairs that lead up to the front of the ship, there is a secret door that will get you right there.

Walk all the way forward on deck 5 and enter the Star Lounge.  In the daytime, it is usually empty.  Enter the lounge and take an immediate right, just past the DJ booth.

There's a set of unmarked doors that you can simply open up an you will be let out right next to the helipad.  

This is especially helpful if you have a stroller or are in a wheelchair and stairs are a problem.

4. Find the Stowaway Piano Player

One of the best not-so-well-known entertainment options that Royal Caribbean has recently added is the "stowaway" piano player.

The idea is there is a piano player with a far-out piano that will move around the ship and perform for guests but encouraging guests to not report him.  

The piano is no ordinary piano.  It has hidden compartments and functions and can dispense various things, such as lollipops for kids or appear to overheat because of "intense" piano playing.

This neat form of street theater will appear around the ship at different times during the cruise.

5. Balcony dividers can be removed

If you happen to have connecting balcony staterooms, most Voyager-class ships cannot have their balcony dividers removed.  However, on Navigator of the Seas that is not the case.

 If you're interested in opening up balcony dividers on Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas, the balconies are attached to the ships' hull and cannot be removed. But on sister ship Navigator of the Seas, the balcony dividers aren't attached and can be removed.

6. Enjoy the view from Cosmopolitan Club

It is really hard to beat the views of Navigator of the Seas' upper decks from the Cosmopolitan Club.

Located on deck 14 at the aft of the ship, the Cosmopolitan Club offers guests sweeping views of the upper decks and the ocean.  

To get to Cosmopolitan Club, you must use the aft elevators and go up to deck 14.

7. Try the blender bike

In front of the Lime and Coconut bar on deck 11 is a special blender bike, that allows guests to make mixed drinks with pedal power!

Ask the bar staff for your chance to sit on the blender bike and spin the pedals as fast as you can to mix a frozen concoction. It is fun and the reward comes when the drink is fully mixed!

8. Grab a casita

Throughout decks 11 and 12 are casitas along the pool deck that are available on a first come, first served basis.

These casitas have no additional cost, and are available for guests to enjoy at their leisure. They feature comfortable lounge chairs or day beds, and make for the perfect spot for your group to chill, nap or just relax between dips in the pool.

9. Ride the water slides on embarkation day

Perhaps no feature on Navigator of the Seas will be as popular on your sailing as the two water slides, the Blaster and Riptide.  If you want to beat the crowds, head to deck 13 aft as soon as you board.

The first day of the cruise is a busy day, and most guests do not have their bathing suits with them when they board. Bring your swimsuit in your carry on luggage (or wear it to the ship) and then head to the slides in the afternoon.

Most other guests onboard will not have their swim suits or even be aware the water slides are open.  It is the perfect time to get multiple rides in without little or no wait!  This is also a great strategy for the nearby FlowRider.

10. USB outlets at the bar

Did you know some of the popular bars on Navigator of the Seas offer convenient USB outlets for charging your devices while you hang out there?

We spotted USB outlets at the Lime & Coconut and Playmakers, which means all you have to do is remember to bring your charging cord and then plug in while you enjoy drinks, music or the company around you.  

Did we miss any Navigator of the Seas secrets? Share them in our comments!

Video: Royal Caribbean cruise money saving tips

In:
31Oct2018

Check out our Royal Caribbean Blog video, which is all about ways to save money on your Royal Caribbean cruise!

What's better than a Royal Caribbean cruise? A Royal Caribbean cruise with discounts! We are sharing some of our favorite ways to spend less and still enjoy a great cruise vacation.  From how to save on drinks and shore excursions, to who to book with to get the lowest price, we have quite a few strategies for keeping money in your pocket.

And if you love this video, there’s plenty more for you to enjoy over on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

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