Secrets, Tips and Tricks

Freedom of the Seas secret: Ordering Sabor guacamole from the bar


Sabor Modern Mexican has quickly become one of Royal Caribbean's most popular specialty restaurants with cruise fans because of the terrific food quality available. On Voyager and Freedom class cruise ships, Sabor is priced with a cover charge and to dine there requires paying the full cover charge.  If you are interested in just grabbing a bowl of Sabor's famous hand-made guacamole, there is another way to enjoy it without paying the cover charge.

While on Freedom of the Seas, we spotted at the Schooner Bar a sign that allows guests to order Sabor's guacamole, salsa and chips.  It is a fairly simple process and comes with the benefit of not having to pay the cover charge. The only caveat is guests may only order from Sabor when the restaurant is open (sorry, no midnight guacamole orders).

Just let a waiter from the Schooner Bar know that you would like to order from Sabor and they will get one of the waiters from Sabor to take your order.  The waiter will ask how many people should the order be made for.  Pricing will be based on how many guests you want to have enough guacamole, chips and salsa to accomodate. 

When we tried this out, we also had the choice of ordering from the restaurant's drink menu.

A few short minutes later, our food and drink was brought over for us to enjoy.

When we tried it out on Freedom of the Seas, the cost for the food (excluding the alcoholic beverages) was $10.00.  

Royal Caribbean Secrets: Tony the Gnome on Harmony of the Seas


Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas is filled with a lot of fun activities, exciting shows and incredible dining choices.  The level of detail on this brand new ship is truly amazing, including one very small (and cute) bit of detail that is easy to overlook.

Hidden in the Central Park neighborhood, among the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers, is Tony the Garden Gnome!

Photo by Tracey Van Leeuwen

Tony was donated by Matt and Samantha Alexander, and have been adopted by the ship's horticulturist, Tom Brownlee.

Guests can find Tony under a tree, opposite the Trellis Bar in the Central Park neighborhood.  While not as thrilling as the ship's water slides, Tony is a great example of a fun hidden gem onboard Harmony of the Seas that you can visit once onboard.

16 Great Alaska Royal Caribbean Cruise Tips


When going on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska, there are lot of things that can save you time and money, or improve the quality of your vacation.  Here are 16 random tips based upon our readers' experiences in taking cruises to Alaska. Some of them are simple and easy to understand tips. Other tips require a bit more effort, but will similiarly make your cruise more enjoyable.  

Not all of these tips may be applicable to everyone, but there should be a few "nuggets of information" that everyone can use.  Whether you are a first time planner or a weatherd veteran, there are tips for you here.

With these tips in hand, you can get the most out of your Royal Caribbean vacation.  

Make sure to also read the additional reader tips in the comments, as some of you readers have some great tips of your own that are really helpful. If you have some good tips, be sure to add them there, too. The more, the merrier!

  1. Plan early! Even if you are “just considering options”, book a reservation as early as possible to get the best price. Alaska is definitely a destination where rates tend to increase the closer you get to sail date. 
  2. For best value, consider shoulder season sailing (May or September). There are fewer children on board in May and September due to school. Shoulder seasons can also be less-expensive.  It has also been reported that in September at the end of season, port shops have fantastic “everything must go” sales.
  3. We have always sailed on Radiance in Alaska. But now there are options for ship classes when sailing Alaska. Radiance-class was built for Alaskan type cruising with onboard viewing opportunities from everywhere, which in Alaska is important when you hear someone yell “whale” because you will want to see it too! If you select Radiance, generally this will mean choosing either a north bound or south bound 7-night journey. 
  4. If you choose a north bound or south bound sailing, you will be arriving at one port and departing from another, so when booking airfare, be sure to compare pricing for “open leg” versus two “1- ways”; we sometimes find it cheaper to actually book two independent 1-way tickets.
  5. Go Balcony! In Alaska, you can actually sit on the balcony and see everything! – or at least look out while waking up in the morning or changing.
  6. Spekaing of balconies, if you book early enough, grab one of the huge aft balcony rooms at regular balcony prices! The balconies on the aft of Radiance class are 4 to 5 times the size of side facing balconies; more than enough room for two lounge chairs, and two regular chairs and a small table. 
  7. Always be looking at the water when on board. You may see whales, dolphins, seals, otters, and other sea life right from your cruise ship! And near shorelines, you will often see bald eagles and maybe even a bear at water’s edge. A kind of “free” excursion.
  8. Weather forecasts don’t always match reality. Be prepared for changing weather daily. Be prepared with varying clothing options (i.e. wear layers).  And when it does rain, just give it a few minutes, it generally doesn’t last long. Take it all in. And remember, many excursions go rain or shine!
  9. Speaking of excursions … excursions will likely account for a large portion of your budget – plan accordingly.  Some excursions costs hundreds of dollars per person … but this will likely be a once-in-a-life journey for many … so don’t pass up anything you really want to do. 
  10. To save on excursions, consider third party providers.  There are many options.  And many are rated by other travelers on TripAdvisor, Cruise Critic, and elsewhere.  Use the internet for your research … it’s actually part of the fun of the trip and it helps you learn more about Alaska prior to arrival!  Do check pricing with both Royal Caribbean and vendors. Over the past 4 years, Royal Caribbean pricing has become much more competitive and comparable with direct vendor booking and in one example this year, we found that Royal Caribbean’s price was actually cheaper than direct booking with the vendor; albeit for the most expensive tours like helicopters you can still save significantly by direct booking with vendors. Be sure to read and understand cancellation policies when booking direct with vendors. Nearly all will refund if the ship misses the port or there is an unplanned ship schedule change – but be sure to check.
  11. “Free excursions” … indeed, check out the many hiking trails in each port town. If you have an extra day at the Seward end of travel, check out the hand tram on Winner Creek trail in Alyeska in Girdwood, or hike to Exit Glacier near Seward. Use the internet to search for trails in each port. Many of the trails are well traveled, nicely groomed, and clearly marked. Walking is free, and often the best sights are seen from wooded trails. This year we saw moose, bears, dear, and bald eagles.
  12. Make transportation an excursion! If you are planning on a Radiance of the Seas sailing, you will have to get from Seward to Anchorage for your flight.  Take the Alaskan Railroad Coastal Classic Train! It costs only a little more than the bus ride or rental car. The Train travels a path where no other vehicles can get too. And upgrade your seat on the train to Gold Star – that will include a meal, a few drinks, more personal space, private outside viewing area, and will ensure excellent viewing from your seat with glass ceilings and glass wall all-round. You might even want to request the first row in the first car for the very best viewing opportunities! Specific requests can be made by contacting Alaska Railroad direct. 
  13. Get off the ship! No matter the weather, get off the ship at every port – even if you don’t have an excursion planned. Sometimes the piers are a little longer in Alaska but the port towns are pretty small and easily walkable making them nice for self-guided tours. The trinket shops are pretty similar in each port, but each port will feature specialty items; Ketchikan will have more focus on totem poles, for example.
  14. Day light is plentiful! The sun will rise early and set late. But unlike Caribbean cruises, nightlife is less significant on board an Alaskan cruise – the ship still offers many night activities, but in our experience, late night activities are not well attended. People hit the sack earlier in Alaska, and rise much earlier than customary in the Caribbean. It’s all part of the early bird and worm syndrome … port calls are typically early morning and people are up and ready for excursions at the crack of dawn, literally. Oh, not to worry, Radiance is outfitted with blackout curtains.
  15. Americans will find cell phone service included in their coverage while in Alaska.  In fact, it tends to work quite well.
  16. In Icy Straight Point, numerous eagles, whales and sea lions can be spotted either sitting at the Duck Point Restaurant or walking along the path to the Icy Strait Point Cannery or into Hoonah.

Have fun and go with the flow! Enjoy the beauty and bounty that is Alaska! 

If you want even more great advice and tips about Alaska, listen to our two recent podcast episodes all about Royal Caribbean cruises to Alaska!

Your thoughts

If you have solid tips that are not mentioned here, please post them below! If you have any other comments or questions, please feel free to post those, too.

10 ways to save money on your Royal Caribbean cruise


Many of you are probably planning your next Royal Caribbean cruise and we want to help you save money so your trip costs less. To help you get the most of out of your vacation dollars, here are 10 money-saving tips for your next Royal Caribbean cruise.

Regardless of your budget, it is never a bad idea to consider ways to save more money.  For some of you, cutting spending may be the only way you can afford a Royal Caribbean cruise. For others, saving money might not be strictly necessary, but rather a way to fund that second (or seventh!) Royal Caribbean cruise of the year.

Here are some of our recommendations for saving money on your Royal Caribbean cruise.  Not all of these tips may be relevant to everyone.  We each value different aspects of our cruises differently, and what is unnecessary for some might be make or break for someone else. These are just possible ideas, not across the board recommendations for everyone. Cost-cutting is not a good idea when it’s at the expense of the fundamental experience–if you cut things that are important to you, don’t be surprised if the amount of fun you have is negatively impacted.

10. Credit cards

Personal fiscal responsibility aside, proper use of a credit card can definitely save you some money on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Royal Caribbean has its own branded Visa credit card, which allows guests to earn points that can be redeemed for onboard credit on future cruises (as well as other rewards too).

For each purchase made with the credit card, you can earn points that can be redeemed for onboard credit or even free cruises.

Of course, there are lots of other credit cards out there with various reward programs that can help offset the cost of your cruise.  Credit card reward programs with cash back bonus are popular options.

9. Skip the drink package

Whether a Royal Caribbean drink package is worth the money is an age old debate (well, at least as old as the drink packages are). Yes, the drink packages can save you money if you can drink enough, but it assumes you can drink enough every day of your cruise to make money on it.  Many guests who buy the drink package often report back with a phenomenon known as, "drink fatigue", where after a few days of drinking 5-6 drinks per day (or more), they start to feel they are drinking just for the sake of drinking to utilize their drink packages.

Even in today's age of drink package popularity, the truth is there are still plenty of drink specials around your ship that are worth considering.

Guests who skip the drink package can still save money on their drinks by taking advantage of drink specials found around the ship. This includes the drink of the day, bar specials, Crown and Anchor Society coupons, Diamond drinks and more.

If you are looking to save money, the question to ask here is, "how little could we spend on drinks and still have a food trip?" compared to the cost of the drink packages, not, "how much would the same amount of drinks we would get with a drink package cost if we paid for it out of pocket?".

8. Bring your own wine

Hot on the heels of the last tip, there is no question one of the best ways to save money on your cruise if you enjoy wine is to bring your own.

Royal Caribbean allows guests to bring their own bottles of wine onboard, up to two per stateroom.

7. Take advantage of Crown and Anchor discounts

Once you are at least a Gold member in Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor society, you will receive automatic discounts that are pre-loaded onto your SeaPass card to be used on your cruise.

These discounts allow guests to save money off the regular cost of the services and products.  Buy one, get one drinks, discounts on the spa, photo discounts are just a few of the usual discounts.

As you move up the Crown and Anchor Society ladder of levels, you will get better benefits that can really help bring down that bill at the end of your cruise.

6. Consider low-cost excursions

The ports of call your Royal Caribbean cruise ship visits is usually the highlight of any vacation, but excursions are notoriously expensive.  There are, however, good alternatives to research that can offer a taste of the place you are visiting without breaking the bank.

Many Caribbean islands have inexpensive (if not free) beaches that may not be as impressive as some other beaches, but still offer a great beach day.  This includes Junkanoo Beach in Nassau or Emerald Beach in St. Thomas. Both are much closer to where Royal Caribbean docks than the more famous beaches, but both offer a fun beach day for far less cost.

While not as culturally enriching as other excursions, there are usually places to go right in the port area where your ship docks.  The Margaritaville in Falmouth offers a complimentary pool, the El Cid resort in Cozumel is next door to the port area and both offer inexpensive ways to spend your day.

5. Onboard discounts for specialty restaurants

There is no question that one easy way to bring down the cost of your Royal Caribbean cruise is to spend less, but that does not mean skipping all the fun.

Specialty restaurants have become a deeply ingrained part of the Royal Caribbean cruise vacation and there are ways to enjoy them without paying full price.

If a restaurant is open for lunch, often the cover charge is less to dine then, compared to dinner.

In addition, look for specials offered throughout your cruise that will knock down the cover charge or offer a discount on your bill. Attending complimentary events, like guacamole making demonstrations, will often come with offers to dine at the featured restaurant for less than the normal cost.

4. Take advantage of available discounts

In addition to the national sales promotions Royal Caribbean offers, there are also regularly available discounts for guests who may qualify because of their profession, affiliation or connection.

These sorts of discounts include

  • Active and retired members of the military
  • Crown and Anchor Society members
  • Royal Caribbean shareholders
  • Senior Citizens
  • Airline employees
  • Firefighters and police officers
  • Residents of certain states

Not all of these promotions are combinable with the highly advertised promotions, but it is important to be aware of them and to always consider them if they do apply. 

3. Spend your money on shore

If you want to enjoy plenty of drinks, eat at fabulous restaurants and buy some souvenirs for the family without breaking your budget, consider spending your money on shore, rather than onboard.

Generally speaking, the cost of drinks, food and souvenirs will cost less on shore.  Competition and even the cost of living can save a bundle compared to paying the prices for the same or similar products and services onboard.

If you are in the market for a massage, getting a massage on land can save a lot compared to the Vitality Spa.  Drinks at local bars almost always come out cheaper (and in greater quantity) at port.

If you followed the earlier tip to skip the drink package, drinking at the ports of call you visit can be a great strategy to enjoy a few drinks for far less.

2. Cruise off-season

If you really want to bring down the cost of your cruise fare and save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, then you need to cruise when others do not want to.

Cruising at times of the year when school is in session and most folks are not looking to vacation is a great strategy for saving tons on your cruise.  For cruises out of North America, these times include

  • January (except New Years eve week)
  • First two weeks of February
  • Late August
  • September
  • October
  • First two weeks of November
  • First two weeks of December

Many of the other tips we shared in this post are centered around saving a money here and there, but this strategy is the one suggestion that will really rack up the savings.

1. Use a travel agent

When it comes to saving money and ensuring you are getting the best possible deal, we are big fans of travel agents.

Travel agents provide great service to folks looking to take a Royal Caribbean cruise, whether it is your first cruise or your 100th, travel agents exist to make your life simpler.  They are keyed in on the latest promotions and they can be your best advocate for finding promotions that help you, not just the day you book but every day until final payment.

A good travel agent will be able to assist with the booking process, and give you every single permutation of pricing to figure out which itinerary, stateroom or promotion makes the most sense for you.  I cannot count the time I have saved by having the travel agent jump through the proverbial hoops for me to figure out what is the best deal for my family.

The reality is you only stand to benefit from using a good travel agent, both in convenience and time saved.

Your thoughts

Do you have any of your own “quick tips” for saving money on a Royal Caribbean vacation…or saving for a Royal Caribbean vacation? Disagree with any of our tips? Hearing from you is half the fun, so share your thoughts in the comments!

Five random facts about Royal Caribbean


Our writer Michael Poole has some fun facts to share today!

With all the excitement around all the new ships being built, ships changing homeports, and some even getting a full makeover in dry dock, I thought it would be fun to share some random facts about Royal Caribbean that you may not have known. 

5.  Johnny Rockets at Sea

In 1999, Royal Caribbean introduced the very first Johnny Rockets at Sea on Voyager of the Seas. 

Back when it was launched, the American-style burger restaurant was completely complimentary with the cruise fare.  This quickly created problems with wait times pushing over two hours, as everyone wanted to dine here for lunch on sea days. 

After a few years, Royal Caribbean added a cover charge to this venue to help with the crowd control for a nominal fee. 

At the time of this post, you can dine there for $6.95 per person, which includes gratuity. 

4. Nine Ships in six years

In 1999 the very first Voyager Class ship launched, changing the way we know cruising today.  Voyager of the Seas was the largest cruise ship in the world at 137,308 gross tons. 

But it didn’t stop there; between 1999-2004 Royal Caribbean launched nine new ships, marking the largest growth in the company’s history. 

But did you know Jewel of the Seas is newer than all the Voyager class ships? 

Jewel of the Seas launched in 2004, and the Voyager class was complete in 2003.  All of the ships are still in the fleet today, and we have all grown to love each of them over the years. 

3. Enchantment of the Seas stretch

In 2005, Enchantment of the Seas underwent the largest dry dock project in the company's history. 

In fact, they cut the ship in half to insert a new 73-foot section, to make her the longest ship in her Vision Class. 

This stretch is very noticeable by the suspension bridges on the top deck.  Her sister ship, Grandeur of the Seas was scheduled to receive the stretch, but the project was canceled due to the high cost of the project. 

So now we have one-of-a-kind in the Vision class, the really long Enchantment of the Seas. 

2.  Eight Retired ships

Royal Caribbean began as a company in 1968 and since then, we have said goodbye to eight cruise ships.  But the good news is one of these retired ladies is coming back to the fleet next year after a major dry dock, Empress of the Seas

Current Retired ships:

  • Song of Norway
  • Nordic Prince
  • Sun Viking
  • Song of America
  • Viking Serenade
  • Nordic Empress / Empress of the Seas (coming back in 2016)
  • Sovereign of the Seas
  • Monarch of the Seas

Have you ever sailed on any of these retired ships?

1. Project Genesis

In 2006, Royal Caribbean launched a new project called "Project Genesis" and at the time, we knew very little about this project. 

Royal Caribbean started leaking some information to tease us about their new class of ships. The excitement for this project was unlike anything I’ve ever experience with the launch of a ship. 

In 2008, they announced Project Genesis would be its next cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas. 

If you happen to sail on Oasis of the Seas today, you will see a man in the Royal Promenade washing away graffiti of Genesis. 

Tips for taking a 3-night Royal Caribbean cruise


Royal Caribbean offers a lot of amazing cruise experiences, including 3-night getaway cruises that are the perfect escape for a weekend or just a few days away from it all.

Three night cruises are among the shortest sailings Royal Caribbean regularly offers and today we have a look at some tips to consider if you are going to try a quick Royal Caribbean cruise.

6. There is a formal night

Just because it's only three nights does not mean there is not a formal night.

Usually the formal night is on the second night of the cruise, and it is just like any other formal night on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

5. Consider Buying the Drink Package

I know there are so many mixed reviews about Royal Caribbean's drink packages and whether or not it’s a value to you.  However, you might find it to be a great value to you for just three days. 

The type of package you might want is going to deepened on what you like drink, but remember you are only paying for three days vs the standard seven cruise. One more deciding factor that might swing your decision is the drink package works in Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island. 

On both, Majesty and Enchantment weekend sailings, they visit Coco Cay so the package works all day in the island.  Even with all the Diamond perks I get, I still find the drink package to be a great value on the short three-day sailings. 

Ask yourself; can you drink 12-15 drinks in three days? 

4. Inside Cabins 

Since you are just going to be on the ship for a short 72-hours, consider an inside cabin. 

I don’t even look at the other cabin types when I’m going on the weekend sailings, because there is so much to do and so little time.  If the cruise is a special occasion I understand wanting to splurge a little and get a nice cabin. 

However, outside of showering and resting a few hours in the evenings, you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the cabin.  More often than not Royal Caribbean is offering some type of sale on the inside cabin’s. 

3. Planning shore excursions in advance.

Honestly, for any cruise I’d recommend planning port day activates in advance.  And this holds true when you have such a limited time on board, the last thing you want to do is stand in another line.  

Often the shore excursions desk can get a lengthy line, especially on the shorter sailings. 

Prior to the cruise you can make any shore excursion purchases online to avoid working with the desk on board.  I also find the planning part at home to be just as fun, as the cruise itself, okay almost as fun. 

2. Activities on board

On every Royal Caribbean cruise you get a daily Cruise Compass filled with all the activities throughout the day.  This Cruise Compass is going to have activities around the clock, so the problem you run into is, you just can’t do them all. 

Years ago, when I first started doing the shorter sailings, I tried doing as much as possible.  However, I’d find myself extremely exhausted by the evening.  So my recommendation is find a few activities you really want to do and left a few go for the next time. 

1. Board the ship early

Royal Caribbean often sends out text messages or emails advising guest with their boarding time.  Fact is, you can board the ship anytime you want, regardless of the message states.  It usually has times listed to board by which deck you are on, but just ignore this message. 

Again, you only have 72 hours on board and you paid for these hours, so do not waste them. 

I would recommend arriving to the pier at 10:30am and you should be on board no later than 11:30am, if not sooner.  

Five money saving tips for getting the best Royal Caribbean cruise deal


Perhaps the most common question we get on Royal Caribbean Blog is how someone can save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise or just get a good deal on their sailing.

It certainly makes sense to get questions like this, because no one wants to overpay for their cruise and we would all prefer to spend the least possible for our cruise so we have more money to spend on things like shore excursions, souvenirs, drink packages and more.

While there is no silver bullet solution that will work for everyone, there are some good guidelines we can share to getting you the best possible pricing.

Book as early as you can

We will start things off with our best tip, and that is to book your Royal Caribbean cruise is far in advance as you can to get the lowest possible fares.

In general, Royal Caribbean rewards those that book their cruises early with the lowest fares.  As more people book a given sailing, prices tend to rise because there is less inventory available.

Royal Caribbean typically publishes its cruise schedules up to two years in advance, which sounds like a lot of time to wait for a cruise, but it is among the best ways to lock in the best prices.

Your best bet is to book early and place a deposit on a sailing that can lock in that price until your final payment date.  This not only gives you the lowest possible price, it also gives you the most time to make payments on the cruise.  Plus, that deposit is fully refundable if you happen to change your mind later.

If you cannot book two years in advance, that is okay too.  They key is not to wait, but instead book a cruise as early as you can.

Use a travel agent

Whether you are brand new to Royal Caribbean or a veteran, you really ought to book your cruise with a good travel agent.

Travel agents are paid by Royal Caribbean and cost you nothing to use.  What they offer to the customer is quality service and expert advice on Royal Caribbean bookings.

It is their job to stay on top of the various deals and promotions Royal Caribbean rolls out there and because they are constantly pricing a variety of sailings across Royal Caribbean's fleet, they may be aware of deals and savings out there that you might not have considered.

In addition, even after you book a cruise, Royal Caribbean is constantly rolling out new promotions that could save you even more money, and a good travel agent will be there to re-price things for you without your intervention.  

On a personal note, I book all of my Royal Caribbean cruises through a travel agent for the service they provide.  I figure, let them sit on hold with Royal Caribbean while I do something much more fun!

Book a cruise during less-busy months

The first two tips I shared will get you some great prices, but if you want to find those super low cruise fares, then you ought to consider taking a Royal Caribbean cruise when many others are not willing to.

Royal Caribbean offers cruises throughout the year, but there are certainly times of the year when cruising is more in-demand than other times. 

Since Royal Caribbean is a family cruise line, what you want to do is avoid taking cruises when kids are off from school for holidays.  Summer, Christmas, Spring Break and Easter are all times when families have built in vacation time and many look to cruise.

If you can, consider taking a Royal Caribbean cruise when most schools are in session because these are the times of year when you will be able to net some super savings.

The best months for the lowest fares include

  • January (except New Years)
  • February (except Presidents Week)
  • First two weeks of March
  • October
  • November (except Thanksgiving)
  • First two weeks of December

To illustrate this point, here are two Freedom of the Seas sailings to consider. Both cruises are six nights, leaving from Fort Lauderdale and priced for two passengers in an inside stateroom

  • December 4, 2016 sailing: $1472.18
  • December 24, 2016 sailing: $2321.86

That is a $849 difference in price between two identical sailings separated by a few weeks!

Consider ships sailing from alternate ports

In addition to considering time of year, also consider the ports Royal Caribbean sails from and which ones can get you a better deal.

Royal Caribbean offers cruises from a variety of ports around the world, but some sailings always seem to be priced lower than other sailings mainly due to where the cruise departs from.  

The reason prices are lower from certain ports is because they are more difficult for out of state guests to travel to, and thus, there is less demand for these sailings.

In North America, you can often find great rates from these cruise ports.

  • Galveston, Texas
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Tampa, Florida

If you are willing to fly a little further and/or drive a bit more, Royal Caribbean cruises from these ports tend to offer some fantastic deals consistently throughout the year.

Skip the brand new ships

When you watch any of Royal Caribbean's television commercials, you will see scenes from their Quantum and Oasis class ships and they are absolutely amazing experiences, but they also come with premium pricing.

Royal Caribbean has a fleet of 23 cruise ships and they all offer really fun experiences.  The thing is, Royal Caribbean charges a premium for its newest ships, so some of the best deals can be found with the (relatively speaking) older classes of ships.

I know it sounds like with an older ship they will not have all the whizz-bang features of the new ships, but Royal Caribbean has spent millions of dollars in upgrading these ships and I would not hesitate to cruise on them.

Here are my favorite five ships that offer a tremendous value for the money

  • Independence of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas

There are plenty of others as well, but the bottom line is if you can look past the latest and greatest, you can find great deals on some truly amazing ships.

What are your best tips for Royal Caribbean cruise deals? Tell us in the comments!

13 useful Royal Caribbean cruise tips from that I learned from Periscope


Have you heard about the brand new video streaming app called Periscope?

It is essentially an app that allows people to stream live video from anywhere they have a signal and we, at Royal Caribbean Blog, are on Periscope too! (Follow us at @theRCLblog)

Last night we were chatting together about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise and I posed a question to my friends that joined me, "Share with everyone your best Royal Caribbean cruise tip."

Wow, there were some some really great ideas and I wanted to share the best of them right here on the blog.

Lisabeme2: Book onboard for the NextCruise booking bonus.

AVFD102: Get to the port early and use a porter.

RKSister: Don't overpack.  Wear clothing more than once, such as pants or shorts.

Bill1125: Book a suite to get Concierge access because at disembarkation, you get to use secret elevators and encounter no lines leaving the ship.

Jamesw32: Don't wait to go home to give feedback.  Get any concerns resolved onboard.

Daboyz1223: Wear a swimsuit onto the ship in embarkation day because your luggage may not get to your stateroom for a while.

Lisabeme2: Do the VIP All Access Tour at least once.

CraigOchs: Pack a highlighter to use for the Cruise Compass.

Kevinkline5: Walk as part of the "Walk for Wishes" charity event onboard.

Bill1125: Bring ice cream to the pool bar and amazing drinks can happen.

RKSister: Book My Time Dining a few days in advance before your cruise.

Jamesw32: Progressive trivia is a great way to meet new friends, especially if you are cruising solo.

Kris1208: Just enjoy and relax.

What are your best Royal Caribbean tips? Share them in the comments!

Three ways to save money on Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants


Royal Caribbean offers a variety of impressive specialty restaurants that serve up some of the best food available at sea and there are some ways to save money on the total cost to eat at these hot spots.

Whether you want to indulge in steak, sushi or Mexican, Royal Caribbean has added a number of specialty restaurants to its ships with cover charges per person that start at $25 and go up from there.

With these tips, you can cut down that cost and have more money to spend elsewhere on your cruise vacation!

First day discount

On most Royal Caribbean ships, the day you board you will find specials if you eat at many of the specialty restaurants that evening.

Most guests do not consider a specialty restaurant for the first night.  It is not clear why exactly, but specialty restaurants seem to enter guests' radar as the cruise progresses.

Look at your Cruise Compass or go to any of these restaurants and look for discounts available if you dine that day. Usually, there is a 20% discount if you dine at one of the restaurants that evening.


Pre-pay online

Royal Caribbean wants to encourage its guests to eat at more than just one specialty restaurant so they will reward you if you happen to go to at least three.

Using Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's website, you can save up to 30% onboard credit when you make three or more reservations at any specialty restaurants.

You will get the onboard credit on day one of your cruise and that's more money to spend onboard!

If you know you will dine at three (or more) specialty restaurants, pre-book them online to take advantage of the savings.

Dining Package

If you really love eating at the specialty restaurants and you just cannot get enough, consider the dining package.

We have seen the dining package offered on a few Royal Caribbean ships (Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas to name a few) where for $20 per day, guests can dine at any of the specialty restaurants every day of the cruise.

The dining package is not available on every Royal Caribbean ship, but if it is available on your sailing, it can be a great way to save money provided you want to dine at a specialty restaurant each night.

Which specialty restaurant discount have you used before? Tell us in the comments!