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I've been on every class of Royal Caribbean cruise ships: here's what I like about each

In:
05 Sep 2022

A year ago last August, I embarked my first Royal Caribbean cruise on Mariner of the Seas. Since then, I’ve spent 67 nights on 12 Royal Caribbean cruise ships, traveled to 25 different ports, accumulated 141 Crown & Anchor Society points, and made countless memories around the world.

Oasis of the Seas next to Liberty of the Seas in Cozumel

Royal Caribbean has six distinct classes of cruise ships, each with their own layouts, amenities, itinerary options, and onboard atmosphere. I recently cruised to Alaska on Radiance of the Seas, completing my goal of sailing on every class of Royal Caribbean ships.

Even though all Royal Caribbean cruise ships are distinctly Royal Caribbean in branding and design, they can feel quite different from one another when comparing the ships side by side. 

My cruising style

Before understanding why I feel the way I do about Royal Caribbean’s ship classes, it’s important to understand my cruising style.

I tend to spend more time relaxing without a plan onboard rather than trying to experience as many attractions as possible. While endless activities and entertainment options are certainly appreciated, I will enjoy a cruise equally with or without these activities.

Related: Royal Caribbean ship classes guide & explanation

I also do not cruise with children, so activities like water slides, zip lines, and kids programming do not factor in to whether I prefer one ship class over another.

I love using cruising (and traveling in general) as a way to discover as many cultures, countries, cuisines, and ports as possible. The cruise ship’s itinerary matters much more to me than what the ship’s layout is like, how many passengers are onboard, which dining venues are available, etc.

With all that being said, here’s what I like (and dislike) about each class of Royal Caribbean ships.

Quantum Class

Ships I’ve sailed on: Odyssey of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas

The Quantum Class may be my favorite class of Royal Caribbean's ships. The combination of elegant design, indoor spaces, and fantastic itineraries make them a strong contender for Royal Caribbean's best cruise ships.

Related: All about Quantum Class ships

Quantum Class ships sail to perhaps the widest range of destinations offered by Royal Caribbean, from the Caribbean to northern Europe, Israel, Greece, Turkey, Australia, the South Pacific, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Alaska, Hawaii, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and more.

As someone who values itineraries even more than ships, the itinerary options are a strong contender for me choosing to sail on a Quantum Class ship.

The Quantum Class has some of the best venues in the fleet as well. The climate-controlled Solarium is definitely my favorite in the fleet, and Two70 is a breathtaking venue offering not only the best views of the ship’s aft, but great entertainment shows, too.

Related: Anthem of the Seas guide & review

The outdoor dining area at the Windjammer on Quantum, Anthem, and Ovation of the Seas is another major plus for the Quantum Class.

I don't have many drawbacks about the Quantum Class. While the Royal Esplanade sometimes reminds me more of a shopping mall than a cruise ship and I wish the outdoor Promenade deck wrapped around the whole ship for a better walking experience, these aren't make it or break it drawbacks.

Oasis Class

Ships I’ve sailed on: Harmony of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas

Oasis Class cruise ships are undoubtedly an impressive feat of engineering and design. Walking onboard an Oasis Class ship for the first time is mind-blowing. The scale, layout, and amount of activities available on Oasis Class ships are unparalleled in the cruise industry.

Related: All about Oasis Class cruise ships

My favorite place on an Oasis Class cruise ship is Central Park, simply because it is so unique. Being onboard a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean and walking through a park filled with trees, shrubs, and flowers is hard to wrap your head around!

Additionally, my favorite time to have a dining package is when I’m sailing on an Oasis Class ship. Oasis Class ships have an insane amount of places to dine, both complimentary and specialty. My favorite Oasis Class-exclusive dining venue is 150 Central Park. The fried cheesecake is to die for! Vitality Cafe is another favorite, and I order a custom smoothie nearly every day of the cruise.

The biggest drawback of the Oasis Class ships to me are the lack of areas with ocean views. So many spaces and venues, like restaurants and lounges, have no views or very limited views of the ocean.

Related: Wonder of the Seas neighborhoods tour

I also find the itineraries on Oasis Class ships pretty boring as they lack variation. While I'll never complain about spending the day in Cozumel, Costa Maya, St. Maarten, or St. Thomas, there are so many other ports around the world to discover that are not accessible by Oasis Class ships!

These two drawbacks make me unlikely to book many cruises on Oasis Class ships myself, but I definitely feel that Oasis Class ships are the “perfect” cruise ship for many types of cruisers, especially families with young children.

Freedom Class

Ships I’ve sailed on: Independence of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas

Freedom Class ships offer something for everyone onboard without being too big, and that’s one of the things I like most about them. They also tend to offer a great value while still offering many of Royal Caribbean’s newest amenities.

Related: All about Freedom Class cruise ships

My favorite entertainment shows to watch on a cruise are the ice-skating shows in Studio B, so that’s one plus of Freedom Class ships. I also feel the Main Dining Rooms on the Freedom Class (and Voyager Class) are the most beautiful in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.

The amplification of Freedom of the Seas was awesome and it is the perfect ship to sail weekend party cruises from Miami! My 3-night cruise on Freedom of the Seas was, by far, the most high-energy cruise I’ve experienced on Royal Caribbean.

Related: I tried my first 3-night cruise, here’s how it went

The downside to the Freedom Class, in my opinion, is the lack of any varied itineraries due to the ships offering primarily 3 and 4-night sailings to Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

That being said, I do think the size and range of activities on Freedom Class ships are perfect for short Bahamas itineraries.

Voyager Class

Ships I’ve sailed on: Mariner of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas

While my first cruise was on a Voyager Class ship, I've only spent a total of 6 nights onboard the Voyager Class (4 on Mariner and 2 on Navigator). That being said, I’ve really enjoyed my time on Voyager Class ships, and it’s one of my favorite ship classes.

Related: All about Voyager Class cruise ships

I love the size of a Voyager Class cruise ship as it’s neither too big nor too small. Several of the ships have received amplifications, bringing the best of Royal Caribbean’s dining and activities without an overwhelmingly large size.

The best spot onboard Voyager Class ships has to be the helicopter pad for the amazing views you’ll see during sailaway!

My favorite bar of any Royal Caribbean ship, The Bamboo Room, is found only on the Voyager Class (Mariner and Navigator), and the bar is home to my favorite drink in the fleet, the Banana Colada!

One feature I find interesting and unique in Royal Caribbean’s fleet is the peek-a-boo bridge I encountered on Mariner of the Seas. Located all the way forward and accessible from the front of the Vitality Fitness Center, the peek-a-boo bridge allows guests to “peek” into the bridge below and observe the work of the officers.

Related: Top 10 Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas hidden secrets

Another plus is that Voyager Class cruise ships sail relatively varied itineraries, from the Mexican Riviera to Europe, the northeast/Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. 

Radiance Class

Ship I’ve sailed on: Radiance of the Seas

While I’ve only been on one Radiance Class cruise ship, I am already looking forward to sailing on the other 3 ships in the class.

The Radiance Class cruise ships are stunning due to the amount of window space that was constructed into the ships’ designs. Radiance Class ships have over three acres of glass onboard, meaning you’ll have picture-perfect views of the ocean from nearly any venue.

Related: All about Radiance Class cruise ships

As I mentioned, one of my biggest complaints about the Oasis Class is that it’s too easy to forget you’re on a ship due to the inward facing design of the class. With how many windows are found on a Radiance Class ship, it would be virtually impossible to forget you’re in the ocean while onboard!

One of my favorite features on Radiance Class cruise ships is the cinema, a small movie theater with a different movie shown four times each day. The cinema is free of charge and is a relaxing way to spend a few hours, especially on chilly days at sea.

Related: 20 Radiance Class cruise ship tips and secrets

I would sail on the Radiance Class time and time again just for the amazing itinerary options. Radiance Class ships, like Quantum Class ships, sail all over the world. Some of Royal Caribbean's most unique ports, such as Nuuk, Greenland and Lifou, Loyalty Islands, are visited by Radiance Class cruise ships.

Related: 10 Royal Caribbean cruise destinations not to be missed

The one problem I found on Radiance Class ships is that I had trouble finding a quiet area of the ship at night. The “library” is located in the Centrum, which has a full schedule of live music every night, and other public spaces usually have live or DJ music as well.

Sometimes I just wanted to sit and have a nice conversation or read a book, but it was too loud everywhere except my room!

Vision Class

Ship I’ve sailed on: Rhapsody of the Seas

I heard so many complaints about Royal Caribbean’s Vision Class before sailing on Rhapsody of the Seas. Some people even scoffed when I mentioned I was sailing on a Vision Class ship!

Cruising on a ship with no Royal Promenade or 15 restaurants? How could I do that to myself?

Related: All about Vision Class cruise ships

All jokes aside, I loved my time on Rhapsody of the Seas. It brought me back to a more classic cruise experience without the need for water slides, zip lines, and carousels. In fact, I’d put the Vision Class as my second favorite of Royal Caribbean’s ship classes.

My itinerary to the Greek Isles on a Vision Class ship was port-intensive. The ship worked perfectly as a place to rest and unwind at the end of the day before having to wake up early for another day in port. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have had time or energy for endless onboard activities and entertainment options.

Related: 12 differences between the big and small Royal Caribbean cruise ships

I enjoyed the atmosphere of the Vision Class Centrum and how it connected different decks of the ship together. Much of my time onboard was spent sipping a cocktail or coffee in the Centrum while listening to live music and enjoying views of Greece in the distance.

I also loved the family feel onboard Vision of the Seas. With far fewer passengers than a bigger cruise ship, I felt more like a guest and less like just a number.

If you're traveling with kids, the Vision Class is probably at the bottom in terms of onboard activities, but there is still Adventure Ocean programming available as well as a rock-climbing wall and other kid-friendly activities.

Final thoughts

I will gladly sail on any Royal Caribbean cruise ship no matter the class. 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Symphony of the Seas? Count me in. 14-night Transatlantic on Vision of the Seas? I’ll be there.

While I may prefer certain classes over others, the onboard experiences are often more similar than different. Hanging out at Schooner Bar on a Radiance Class ship will offer a similar experience to Schooner Bar on any other class, a pool day is a pool day no matter the ship, and the dining experience in venues like the Windjammer or Main Dining Room is pretty standard throughout the fleet.

There’s no “perfect” cruise ship out there, and what works best for one passenger may not work as well for another. For me? I prefer looking for a unique itinerary first before even looking at the ship. Others may prefer to choose a cruise based on the ship with the itinerary as an afterthought, and that’s totally okay, too.

If you’re wondering how to pick the best cruise ship for you, check out our other articles:

What is a cruise ship dry dock?

In:
22 Aug 2022

Royal Caribbean cruise ships undergo a dry dock every few years for routine maintenance and refurbishment, but why are dry docks necessary and how does the process work?

Harmony of the Seas in dry dock

Whether you've read about it online or heard from another passenger or crew member about a ship's upcoming dry dock, you might be wondering what this entails.

Just like when your car needs to get service and they hoist it up on a lift, cruise ships need to get "under the hood" work done to keep them working properly.

What is a cruise ship dry dock?

A dry dock is a narrow basin that can be filled and drained of water to allow for maintenance and repairs on a ship’s hull.

Because the hull remains underwater at all times, it’s necessary to remove the ship from water occasionally to clean the hull and work on routine maintenance of the ship. Royal Caribbean ships usually have dry dock once every five years.

For a ship to enter a dry dock, the basin must first be filled with water, allowing the ship to sail in safely. Once the ship sails into the dry dock and is situated in the correct position, the gate is closed and water is drained.

Dry docks are also used during the construction of new ships. Because ships cannot, of course, be constructed in the water, they are constructed on a dry dock which can later be filled with water to allow the ship to safely sail out once constructed.

What type of maintenance and repairs happen during a dry dock?

During dry dock, ships undergo routine mechanical work as well as checks of the ship’s propeller blades, thrusters, stabilizers, navigation software, etc. If anything needs to be replaced, it will be replaced during this time. The ship’s hull is cleaned during dry dock with a power washing system and typically repainted.

Parts of the ship’s exterior and interior spaces are also repainted during dry dock. When Harmony of the Seas underwent dry dock in 2021, for example, the shipyard estimated they would use around 8,000 liters of paint on the ship!

Dry dock is also a time for interior refurbishments such as adding new coats of paint and replacing flooring, bedding, curtains, etc. Anything that cannot easily be done while a ship is in service will be done during dry dock (deep cleaning of onboard spaces, adding new venues, etc.).

Why does the ship’s hull need to be cleaned?

If routine cleaning of a ship’s hull is neglected, it can lead to the accumulation of marine line on the hull, known as biofouling. Barnacles, shellfish, algae, and other marine life can live on the hull.

The most notorious are barnacles, a crustacean related to lobsters and crabs, who must attach onto a hard surface to develop into adults. In fact, the natural “glue” barnacles use to attach to a ship’s hull is so strong that researchers have been trying to mimic the sticky substance for use commercially and medically.

This, of course, causes a few key problems for ships. First, a buildup of marine life can cause more drag, making the ship’s speed lower, which increases both fuel costs and carbon emissions.

It also means that marine life can be transported from one area of the world to another, causing potential environmental impact as existing ecosystems may be affected by new types of marine life.

Therefore, having routine dry dock maintenance to clean the ship’s hull can help negate this problem and assure that large buildups of marine life do not occur on Royal Caribbean’s ships.

Refurbishments and amplifications

Mariner of the Seas in dry dock for her 2018 amplification

During some dry docks, Royal Caribbean ships will undergo significant refurbishments or amplifications through Royal Caribbean’s Royal Amplified program.

Royal Caribbean uses two terms for upgrading its cruise ships: refurbishment and amplification.

Refurbishments are smaller enhancements to a ship, such as upgrading staterooms, re-designing an existing venue, switching a specialty restaurant, etc. Amplifications are more in-depth refurbishments where Royal Caribbean “amplifies” an older ship with many of the popular features found on the fleet’s newest cruise ships. 

Related: What was added to each Royal Caribbean ship during its Royal Amplified refurbishment

Amplifications may include adding water slides, new staterooms, renovated pool decks, several new bars and restaurants, and activities like an escape room, laser tag, and bungee jumping.

Dry docks take cruise ships out of service for around two weeks for routine maintenance, but amplifications can take over a month.

When Oasis of the Seas received her amplification in 2019, which included adding waterslides, the Ultimate Abyss, a Caribbean resort-style pool deck, and new dining venues, it took a total of 63 days.

In fact, when Oasis of the Seas was amplified, nearly every single venue was touched by workers to either repair, enhance, or alter the space. About 800 tons were added to the ship when all the work was done.

Every day counts in a dry dock

When a cruise ship needs to go into dry dock, it means the ship will be out of service and that means no revenue for that time.

Similar to how a professional athlete that is injured cannot help the team win, a cruise ship that goes in for work will not improve the cruise line's bottom line.

Oasis of the Seas dry dock overhead

Over 2,700 contractors were onboard Oasis while the ship was in dry dock in Cadiz, Spain to get the work done in time.

Oasis was out of service for 63 days in order to get all of her work done, which is a significant investment by the cruise line. The amount of time would have been far less had they not decided to upgrade the ship, but the short-term financial impact is offset by the higher revenue and increased bookings down the line when the ship returns to service.

Planning a cruise? Start here:

Ask a Captain: How fast can a cruise ship go to outrun a storm?

In:
11 Aug 2022

When you're on a cruise ship, you might be curious about a ship's top speed so that it could avoid something like a storm.

Severe weather is enough to give almost anyone a bit of anxiety, and riding out a storm at sea isn't usually at the top of anyone's wish list when it comes to things to do on a cruise.

On every Royal Caribbean cruise, there is an event held for guests to ask the ship's Captain questions.

On a recent Odyssey of the Seas cruise, a passenger wanted to know in case of a storm, how fast can the ship sail away from a storm?

How fast can a cruise ship go?

Before we talk about the chances of running into a storm, let's look at a cruise ship's top speed.

Captain Sindre Borsheim answered how fast do cruise ships go when he was captain of the ship earlier this year. Captain Sindre has more than 20 years of experience with Royal Caribbean, so he's no stranger to ships and conditions at sea.

Royal Caribbean veteran Captain Sindre Borsheim

According to Captain Sindre, the top speed of Odyssey of the Seas is around 23.7 knots.

"That is full speed," he said and then joked maybe the ship could go a bit faster if they went downhill at the time.

The top speed of any cruise ship varies greatly depending on the ship’s size and engine power. 

Most of the time, a cruise ship doesn't get near that top speed. Instead, they remain at a more comfortable cruising speed. Going at a slower speed also reduces the ship's fuel consumption.

But if necessary, the ship can accelerate to that 23.7 knots figure, which is about 27 miles per hour.

Outrunning a storm is unlikely

The question about needing to outrun a storm is very unlikely to be a scenario your cruise ship will encounter.

"With today's technology, you see where the storms are coming," Captain Sindre explained.

"You can predict days in advance. So it's very rare that nowadays we get caught by surprise storms."

He did recall one time a few years ago when bad weather developed quickly, "I was on a ship over in Southeast Asia sailing out of Hong Kong. And we just happened to be exactly where the typhoon was born."

"We managed to get away before it was building up."

"Normally we see that they are born and then you predict the path. But if you happen to be exactly right there during birth, then then you may be caught by surprise."

James Van Fleet with beard

It's important to also note that Royal Caribbean employs its own meteorologist to keep track of severe weather, anywhere around the world.

Royal Caribbean Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet gives the captain of each ship the best outlook on what the weather is doing now and what it is likely to do in the near future.

Read moreHow Royal Caribbean navigates bad weather with its own meteorologist

More efficient engines than ever before

Top 10 Odyssey of the Seas frequently asked questions | Royal Caribbean Blog

On a cruise ship like Odyssey of the Seas, it has the best engines in the fleet given how new it is.

Another guest asked if Odyssey's engines are quieter or eco-friendly than before.

"Yes, they are," Captain Sindre answered. "we have four diesel engines, our azipods are electric motors. The electric motors are propulsion motors. And then you have the diesel engines driving the generators, creating the electricity for the ships."

"If you combine the performance of an old diesel engine and the new ones that we have on board, it is a remarkable difference."

The use of azipods, which are omnidirectional form of propulsion for cruise ships, are great for many reasons.

"The azipods are placed there for fuel efficiency, which is of course serving two purposes. One is to reduce the fuel for environment. And that is also more cost beneficial for the company. So those two things go hand in hand."

"We have state of the art engines, which means that they are far more efficient. They're far more environmentally friendly than older engines."

Azipods on Odyssey of the Seas

Captain Sindre pointed out the shift in the cruise industry to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) instead of diesel, "Most cruise lines are already starting heading in the direction of LNG instead of diesel engines. So LNG powered ships, which is again very more environmentally friendly."

Read moreWhich Royal Caribbean ships are powered by LNG?

Royal Caribbean ship classes guide & explanation

In:
01 Jul 2022

Are you wondering what the differences are between Royal Caribbean's ship classes?

Harmony of the Seas aerial

Royal Caribbean groups its ships in classes, which are based largely on the ship general design and structure.

Think of these like car models, which makes categorizing ships easier in broad terms.

Within each ship class, there can be variations of features, restaurants, or activities that have been added or modified over the years. While there may be three, four, or more ships within a particular class, the exact onboard activities can vary.

You might be wondering what makes Royal Caribbean's ship classes different from each other, and it boils down to the size of the ship, onboard amenities, and signature activities offered.

There seven Royal Caribbean cruise ship classes. Each ship in the class was built around the same time and from the outside certainly looks similar.

Here is an easy-to-understand breakdown of each class of ship, and what they offer.

What makes Royal Caribbean ships different

Wonder of the Seas pool deck

If you ask someone to describe a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, there's a good chance they'll start talking about all the things you can do onboard.

For decades, Royal Caribbean has made a name for itself by building cruise ships with, "I can't believe they put that on a cruise ship" features.

Each new class of ship has come with a new array of whizzbang activities that capture the imagination. Royal Caribbean wants its ships to have something for everyone, and directly markets to the multi-generational travel market.

Flowrider on the back of Odyssey of the Seas

Over the years, the ships have become the destination just as much as the places around the world ships visit. You'll find plenty of restaurants, bars, outdoor activities, pool deck fun, and more.

While all Royal Caribbean ships have a common "DNA" of family vacation fun among them, each class of ship can vary in terms of what there is to do onboard.

If you've seen a Royal Caribbean television commercial in the last decade, then you have seen the largest cruise ships in the world featured, either an Oasis Class or Quantum Class cruise ship.

Oasis Class ships can handle more than 6,000 passengers and dwarf every other cruise ship out there. There's one of everything on these ships, so you'll never run out of things to do.

The Quantum Class and Freedom Class cruise ships are relatively smaller than the Oasis Class, but offer quite a lot to do as well. The ships in these two classes are still mega ships and can handle between 4,000 - 5,000 passengers. These are big cruise ships that don't compromise on what you can enjoy onboard.

The last of the big ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet are the Voyager Class ships, which are slightly smaller versions of the Freedom Class.  Royal Caribbean has been steadily upgrading Voyager Class ships over the last few years, which have added new amenities.

Brilliance of the Seas side docked

The last two classes of cruise ships are what many consider the "smaller" classes of ships, as they come in under 3,000 passengers.

The Vision Class and Radiance Class are more of a niche cruise ship now, with the ability to get into smaller ports of call.  Many cruise fans that have been cruising for decades love these smaller ships for the intimacy you'll find.

Don't assume smaller ships mean boring. There's still restaurants, bars, outdoor activities, and shows every night. The difference is there is not nearly as many options as the bigger ships, so variety will be less.

Liberty of the Seas pool deck

It can be daunting to find the right class of ship to start with when you are new to Royal Caribbean. The key is to look at what features are available on each ship and then figure out which options are the most important to you.

Read moreWhat is the worst Royal Caribbean ship?

Oasis Class

The largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class ships offer the latest and greatest features found on any ship in the fleet, as well as in the industry.  

The Oasis Class ships can handle just about 5,500 passengers and have a gross tonnage of over 225,000 tons.  

If you are concerned about crowds and navigating a ship of this size, Royal Caribbean has you covered.  Royal Caribbean designed the ship to be easy to get around, and break up crowds.  Seven neighborhoods help distinguish parts of the ship apart to guests, and there are so many activities on Oasis Class ships that everyone will be on their own schedule.

Oasis Class ships are among the newest Royal Caribbean ships, so they are packed with the latest and greatest.

Why choose Oasis Class: You want it all on one ship! The latest features, tons of activities, and great dining.

Oasis Class ships

Oasis Class highlights

  • Neighborhoods
  • AquaTheater
  • 3D Movies
  • Broadway Musicals
  • Waterslides (Harmony and Symphony only)
  • Zip Line
  • Central Park
  • 2 FlowRider Surf Simulators
  • Boardwalk 
  • Carousel
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Loft Suites
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area

Quantum Class

The innovative Quantum Class cruise ships were designed to user in the 21st century with a blend of high-tech, and tried-and-true family vacation experiences. These stylish new ships offer incredible views and activities onboard. 

Quantum Class ships have signature features found just on these ships, and are a big hit with families of varied ages.  Quantum Class ships are the sort of cruise ship that has something for everyone to enjoy, whether you are new to cruising or an established veteran.

Why choose Quantum Class: Families looking for lots to do onboard, along with some incredible features.

Quantum Class ships

Quantum Class highlights

  • North Star
  • RipCord by iFLY 
  • Seaplex
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator
  • Two70 
  • Virtual Balcony Staterooms
  • 3D Movies
  • Loft Suites
  • Music Hall
  • Broadway Musicals
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area

Freedom Class

Royal Caribbean's Freedom Class cruise ships offer a big ship experience, with plenty to see and do onboard.  In fact, Royal Caribbean updated two of them with much more to do in just the last few years.

Freedom Class ships represent an excellent value for families that want to cruise on a large ship, have lots of activities, but not break their budget.  From a pure value standpoint, the Freedom Class ships are a great choice for a fabulous cruise experience.

Freedom Class ships are essentially a slightly larger version of their Voyager Class sisters.

Why choose Freedom Class: Big ship experience, minus the premium price tag that the newer ships in the fleet currently command.

Freedom Class ships

Freedom Class highlights

  • Aqua park
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Royal Promenade
  • British-Style Pub
  • Designer Shopping
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Panoramic staterooms
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator
  • Water slides

Voyager Class

When Royal Caribbean introduced the Voyager Class, it revolutionized the industry with features and activities that we cannot dream of not having on a cruise ship these days.  Mini-golf, the Royal Promenade, ice skating and more all had their start on the Voyager Class.

Just like the larger Freedom Class ships, Voyager Class vessels are a terrific value, and offer some incredible itineraries.  Royal Caribbean is not done investing in these ships, having added new restaurants, surf simulators, aqua parks, entertainment and more over the last few years.

Why choose Voyager Class: Plenty to do onboard, newly added features and terrific pricing.  It is a great choice for families looking to save.

Voyager Class ships

Voyager Class highlights

  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Royal Promenade
  • British-Style Pub
  • Virtual Balcony Staterooms
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator

Radiance Class

Radiance of the Seas combine lots of glass and open areas to provide guests with a classic cruise experience.  

Royal Caribbean's Radiance Class ships are stylish, and get into many of the smaller cruise ports around the world that Royal Caribbean's larger ships cannot.  

Radiance Class ships do not skimp on things to do, offering varied dining experiences, as well as terrific live entertainment. Veteran cruisers enjoy the Radiance Class for the ship's refined offering and easy going atmosphere.

Why choose Radiance Class: Beautiful ships that offer a time-honored cruise experience, with a connection to the ocean itself.

Radiance Class ships

Radiance Class highlights

  • Sunlit Glass-Covered Spaces
  • Glass Elevators
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Self-Leveling Pool Tables
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Indoor movie theater
  • Mini-golf

Vision Class

Royal Caribbean designed their Vision Class ships to fit into almost any port, which means guests can travel to exotic ports of call around the world.

Like the Radiance Class, Vision Class ships combine a small size with many activities that have been added over the years. Whether you are looking to "do it all" or just relax, Vision Class ships are a good choice.

Why choose Vision Class: Impressive itineraries that other ships in the fleet cannot offer. 

Vision Class ships

  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Rhapsody of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Vision of the Seas

Vision Class highlights

  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Bungee Trampoline (Enchantment of the Seas)
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Specialty Dining Options
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Broadway-Style Shows

The future: Icon Class

Something to keep an eye on will be Royal Caribbean's Icon class ships, which promise to bring us a new evolution in cruising.

Royal Caribbean has been quiet on exactly what the Icon Class will offer, but these new ships will handle about 5,000 passengers and will be built using new fuel technology including liquid nitrogen gas and fuel cells. This technology has been used on space shuttles and satellites for years, and is a much greener way of powering ships.

There will be three Icon Class cruise ships, with the first one entering service in late 2023.

How many ships does Royal Caribbean have?

In:
15 Jun 2022

Royal Caribbean is one of the most popular cruise lines in the world, offering the latest and greatest in cruise ship activities, design, and itineraries. Whether you’re new to Royal Caribbean or not, it can be confusing to tell Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships apart. So just how many cruise ships does Royal Caribbean have, and what do they offer?

Royal Caribbean currently has 26 cruise ships and has four additional ships on order which will launch in the next four years. The cruise line has six distinct classes of cruise ships, each of which offer differ in layout, size, onboard activities, stateroom options, and amenities. A seventh class will debut in fall 2023 with Icon of the Seas.

Here is the list of ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet:

Vision Class ships

  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Rhapsody of the Seas
  • Vision of the Seas

Vision Class ships are the oldest and smallest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. While considered small by Royal Caribbean terms, they hold nearly 2,500 passengers and offer many of the same amenities as larger ships, including a pool deck, adults-only Solarium, Adventure Ocean kids programming, spa and fitness centers, and specialty dining venues.

Related: All about Vision Class cruise ships

Radiance Class ships

  • Radiance of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Serenade of the Seas
  • Jewel of the Seas

Radiance Class ships are the second smallest class of ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet and are designed to sail in all types of climates, thus offering unique itineraries around the world. There are over three acres of glass found throughout Radiance Class ships, so guests can enjoy views of the ocean from nearly any vantage point.

Related: All about Radiance Class cruise ships

Voyager Class ships

Voyager Class cruise ships are considered “medium” in size, although quite large with a capacity of around 4,000 guests. They were the first Royal Caribbean ship class to feature the Royal Promenade, the main thoroughfare in the middle of the ship. Several Voyager Class ships have recently been amplified with the addition of water slides, new specialty restaurants and bars, and other new activities such as the Sky Pad, escape rooms, and laser tag.

Related: All about Voyager Class cruise ships

Freedom Class ships

Freedom Class ships are extremely similar to Voyager Class ships, but are longer in length, allowing for an additional pool area as well as more retail, food, and bar venues. Many passengers find the Freedom Class to be an ideal size for a Royal Caribbean cruise. While not as large as Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, there is certainly no shortage of excellent entertainment, dining choices, and onboard activities.

Related: All about Freedom Class cruise ships

Oasis Class ships

The Oasis Class ships were a game changer in the cruise industry, with a split layout that was unlike anything ever seen before at sea. Oasis Class ships feature distinct neighborhoods, from the nostalgic outdoor boardwalk to peaceful Central Park. There are activities for guests of all ages onboard, whether ziplining, ice skating, or catching a show in the AquaTheater.

Related: All about Oasis Class cruise ships

Quantum Class ships

  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Spectrum of the Seas
  • Odyssey of the Seas

Quantum Class ships combine technology with cruising to bring a modern, state-of-the-art experience to passengers at sea. The Quantum Class has several differences to other Royal Caribbean ships, including a two-story Royal Esplanade, the North Star observation pod, and an indoor skydiving simulator. Quantum Class ships are built for a variety of climates, so most of the ships have an indoor pool in addition to the adults-only Solarium. The SeaPlex can also be found on Quantum Class ships, which is an indoor sports arena with bumper cars, fitness activities, and an arcade.

Related: All about Quantum Class cruise ships

Icon Class cruise ships

The Icon Class will be Royal Caribbean’s newest and seventh class of ships, although little is known about the features, layout, and amenities of the Icon Class. The class will debut in fall 2023 with Icon of the Seas, and will be the first class in Royal Caribbean's fleet to be powered by LNG.

Related: Which Royal Caribbean ships are powered by LNG?

Royal Caribbean recently announced the Icon Class will be bigger than Oasis Class cruise ships, although it is unclear in what aspect Icon will be bigger. Construction images have been shared of Icon of the Seas as well, including several of a large sphere that has recently been installed on the ship.

More details on Icon of the Seas and the Icon Class are expected to be released soon.

How to pick a ship for your upcoming cruise

While one cruise ship is not inherently better than another, it’s important to look at your preferences and vacation style before choosing a ship for your Royal Caribbean cruise.

If you’re new to cruising, it may seem tempting to pick the cheapest cruise possible. However, choosing a cruise based solely on price is not recommended. Instead, consider the following:

  • Ship size
  • Entertainment options
  • Kids activities and amenities
  • Dining venues
  • Itinerary choices
  • Old vs new ship

Related: Why you shouldn’t book the cheapest cruise fare you can find

Budget does play a factor, of course, but if you're set on having access to activities like water slides or bumper cars, you'll want to look at bigger or recently amplified cruise ships.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a classic cruise experience without all the bells and whistles, an older and smaller ship may suit your vacation needs just fine.

There is a Royal Caribbean ship to fit every style of cruising, so it's important to research ships thoroughly before booking to ensure you don't find yourself disappointed or surprised once onboard.

Related: 8 questions to ask yourself before picking a cruise ship

How big are Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships?

Royal Caribbean is known for building the largest cruise ships in the world. With the exception of the Queen Mary 2 from 2003-2006, a Royal Caribbean ship has held the title of the world’s largest passenger ship since 1999!

Despite this, Royal Caribbean ships come in all shapes and sizes. Vision and Radiance Class ships are the smallest in the fleet, with passenger capacities around 2,500. Voyager and Freedom Class are significantly larger, with capacities around 4,000 and 4,500 respectively.

Related: 12 differences between the big and small Royal Caribbean cruise ships

The largest classes in the fleet are the Quantum Class and Oasis Class. Quantum Class ships can hold around 5,000 - 5,600 passengers whereas Oasis Class ships have capacity for nearly 7,000 passengers!

One of the best ways to get a feel for what each ship looks like is to watch a full video tour of the ship on YouTube. By doing so, you’ll be able to “explore” the ship before choosing which class of ship, or even which ship in a particular class, will work best for your cruise.

Is Royal Caribbean building new cruise ships?

In the coming years, Royal Caribbean will add four new cruise ships to its fleet. Two new cruise ships are currently in construction: Icon of the Seas and Utopia of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas will be the first ship in the new Icon Class. Two additional Icon Class ships have been ordered for 2025 and 2026, but they are not currently named.

Related: What’s new and coming to Royal Caribbean in 2022, 2023, 2024

Utopia of the Seas will be the sixth Oasis Class cruise ship. While details on the ship have not yet been shared, it can be assumed she will share many of the same features as other ships in the Oasis Class, including distinct neighborhoods and entertainment venues like the AquaTheater.

More cruise ships outside of these four are likely to be ordered in the future, but these are the only ones ordered at this point.

Royal Caribbean trademarks names possible new cruise ships

In:
22 Dec 2021

Royal Caribbean registered 24 new cruise ship names recently, which could be used for a new cruise ship.

The registrations were made with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Royal Caribbean Group filed 24 different trademark registrations with the PTO for names that sound like they might be used for cruise ship names.

Trademark registrations are notoriously vague, and rarely give much insight into what they may be used for onboard a cruise ship, but it can sometimes tip Royal Caribbean's hand in what they have planned.

The names were trademarked on December 16, 2021.

Here are all the new names trademarked:

  • MAGNIFICENCE OF THE SEAS
  • FANTASIA OF THE SEAS
  • PARADISE OF THE SEAS
  • HAVEN OF THE SEAS
  • MELODY OF THE SEAS
  • GRACE OF THE SEAS
  • SANCTUARY OF THE SEAS
  • ILLUMINATION OF THE SEAS
  • UNITY OF THE SEAS
  • INTRIGUE OF THE SEAS
  • ARIA OF THE SEAS
  • EUPHORIA OF THE SEAS
  • SPLENDOR OF THE SEAS
  • AWE OF THE SEAS
  • ETERNITY OF THE SEAS
  • EDEN OF THE SEAS
  • VIBRANCE OF THE SEAS
  • BLISS OF THE SEAS
  • AURA OF THE SEAS
  • UTOPIA OF THE SEAS
  • JOY OF THE SEAS
  • MARVEL OF THE SEAS
  • NIRVANA OF THE SEAS
  • DIVINE OF THE SEAS

It's worth noting that of the 24 names registered, one is a name previously used.

Splendor of the Seas is the name of a former Royal Caribbean cruise ship, although it was spelled "Splendour".

Royal Caribbean sold Splendour to Marella Cruises, where she serves now as the Marella Discovery.

Splendour was the second in line in the Vision Class.

Odyssey of the Seas construction photo update - October 30, 2020 | Royal Caribbean Blog

It is worth noting that Royal Caribbean has registered other cruise ship names that it never ended up using for actual ships. Joy of the Seas and Apex of the Seas were registered back in 2017 and have yet to be used.

Royal Caribbean currently has three unnamed ships on order, in addition to Wonder of the Seas & Icon of the Seas.

Why do these trademarks matter?

Spectrum of the Seas steel cutting ceremony | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you are curious what might be next for Royal Caribbean, trademark filings are a good hint of what the cruise line may be thinking.

While a lot of trademarks get filed but never used, some do end up being the names of new venues, services or even cruise ships.

With new cruise ships under construction, and other projects around the world in various stages of development, there is always a chance the dreamers at Royal Caribbean are ready to move from concept to reality, and locking in a name is part of that process.

When it comes to ship names, it is common for Royal Caribbean to register more names than it intends to use. Think of this list as the finalists in a naming competition. In short, it's better to have more names than you need to ensure no one takes up a name later.

What's your prediction?

Odyssey of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean's second Quantum Ultra Class ship and sail from United States | Royal Caribbean Blog

Now is your chance to show us how much you (think you) know! Share your predictions what these trademarks will be used for the name of a new ship in the future!

See how Royal Caribbean ships stack up by size

In:
18 Dec 2021

With so many Royal Caribbean cruise ships in the fleet, it can be confusing to figure out how big each ship is by size.

Ship size isn't everything when it comes to picking the right ship for you, but how big a ship is remains one of the key metrics a lot of people pay attention to when it comes to comparing vessels.

Royal Caribbean is known for building big cruise ships. It's been their mantra since debuting the first "mega ships" in the late 1980s.

Since then, new cruise ships have rapidly grown in size.  New classes of cruise ship usually bring with them even larger ship sizes.

Wonder of the Seas

While the size of a cruise ship is not the end-all be-all statistic that defines a ship from another, it is certainly a metric many people pay attention to, especially from a marketing perspective.

So whether you have a passing interest in knowing how big each ship is in Royal Caribbean's fleet, or want to prove your friend wrong that you know which ship is the biggest, here is a look at all the Royal Caribbean cruise ships by size.

How do you measure how big a cruise ship is?

Royal Caribbean named best cruise line for entertainment & suites by Cruise Critic | Royal Caribbean Blog

Cruise ships are measured by their gross tonnage, which can be a confusing metric to understand.

Gross tonnage is a nonlinear measure of a ship's overall internal volume.

What?

Basically, this is a way to measure passenger vessels by volume and not weight. This is the standard way to measure how cruise ships compare to each other because of how designs can vary greatly.

Royal Caribbean ships by size

1. Wonder of the Seas

Royal Caribbean takes delivery of new world's largest cruise ship as it departs shipyard | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 236,857 GRT

Length: 1,188 feet long

Beam: 210 feet wide

Passengers: 5,734 (double occupancy)

2. Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: April 8, 2018 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 228,081 GRT

Length: 1,188 feet long

Beam: 215.5 feet wide

Passengers: 5,518 (double occupancy)

3. Harmony of the Seas

Aerial photos of Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 226,963 GRT

Length: 1,188 feet long

Beam: 215.5 feet wide

Passengers: 5,479 (double occupancy)

4. Oasis of the Seas

Everything you wanted to know about Oasis of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 226,838 GT

Length: 1,187 feet long

Beam: 215 feet wide

Passengers: 5,602 (double occupancy)

5. Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas to begin her test cruise today | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 225,282 GRT

Length: 1,187 feet long

Beam: 215 feet wide

Passengers: 5,484 (double occupancy)

6. Spectrum of the Seas

Spectrum of the Seas joins Royal Caribbean's fleet following delivery ceremony | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 169,379 GRT

Length: 1,139 feet long

Beam: 135 feet wide

Passengers: 4,256 (double occupancy)

7. Odyssey of the Seas

Royal Caribbean CEO gives updates on return to service, loyalty benefits and more | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 169,300 GT

Length: 1,138 feet long

Beam: 135 feet wide

Passengers: 4,284 (double occupancy)

8. Ovation of the Seas

Royal Caribbean gets CDC approval to start test sailings on Ovation of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 168,666 GRT

Length: 1,138 feet long

Beam: 136 feet wide

Passengers: 4,180 (double occupancy)

9. Anthem of the Seas

Royal Caribbean becomes first cruise line to be named Gay Travel Approved | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 168,666 GRT

Length: 1,141 feet long

Beam: 136 feet wide

Passengers: 4,180 (double occupancy)

10. Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean cancels Quantum of the Seas cruises through March 2021 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 168,666 GRT

Length: 1,141 feet long

Beam: 136 feet wide

Passengers: 4,180 (double occupancy)

11. Freedom of the Seas

Frequently asked questions about cruising on Freedom of the Seas from Florida | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 156,271 GT

Length: 1,111 feet long

Beam: 185 feet wide

Passengers: 3,926 (double occupancy)

12. Liberty of the Seas

Everything you wanted to know about Liberty of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 154,407 GRT

Length: 1,112 feet long

Beam: 185 feet wide

Passengers: 3,798 (double occupancy)

13. Independence of the Seas

Royal Caribbean gets CDC approval for Independence of the Seas to sail | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 154,407 GRT

Length: 1,112 feet long

Beam: 185 feet wide

Passengers: 3,858 (double occupancy)

14. Navigator of the Seas

Top 10 Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas hidden secrets | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 139,999 GT

Length: 1,020 feet long

Beam: 161 feet wide

Passengers: 3,388 (double occupancy)

15. Mariner of the Seas

Royal Caribbean gets CDC approval for Mariner of the Seas to sail | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 139,863 GRT

Length: 1,020 feet long

Beam: 127 feet wide

Passengers: 3,344 (double occupancy)

16. Explorer of the Seas

Explorer of the Seas meets Voyager of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 137,308 GRT

Length: 1,020 feet long

Beam: 157.5 feet wide

Passengers: 3,286 (double occupancy)

17. Adventure of the Seas

Top 8 things you should know about going on a cruise in 2021 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 137,276 GRT

Length: 1,020 feet long

Beam: 157 feet wide

Passengers: 3,114 (double occupancy)

18. Voyager of the Seas

Royal Caribbean changes Covid-19 vaccine requirements for cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 137,276 GT

Length: 1,020 feet long

Beam: 157.5 feet wide

Passengers: 3,602 (double occupancy)

19. Radiance of the Seas

20 Radiance Class cruise ship tips and secrets | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 90,090 GRT

Length: 962 feet long

Beam: 106 feet wide

Passengers: 2,143  (double occupancy)

20. Brilliance of the Seas

Brilliance of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 90,090 GRT

Length: 962 feet long

Beam: 106 feet wide

Passengers: 2,142  (double occupancy)

21. Serenade of the Seas

Royal Caribbean is first cruise line to restart cruises from Tampa | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 90,090 GRT

Length: 965 feet long

Beam: 106 feet wide

Passengers: 2,143 (double occupancy)

22. Jewel of the Seas

Gross Tonnage: 90,090 GRT

Length: 962 feet long

Beam: 106 feet wide

Passengers: 2,191 (double occupancy)

23. Enchantment of the Seas

Enchantment of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 82,910 GRT

Length: 989 feet long

Beam: 105.6 feet wide

Passengers: 2,252 (double occupancy)

24. Rhapsody of the Seas

Rhapsody of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 78,491 GRT

Length: 915.35 feet long

Beam: 105.6 feet wide 

Passengers: 1,998 (double occupancy) 

25. Vision of the Seas

Royal Caribbean announces Vision of the Seas will sail from Bermuda | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 78,340 GT

Length: 915 feet long

Beam: 105.6 feet wide

Passengers: 2,050 (double occupancy)

27. Grandeur of the Seas

Grandeur of the Seas to leave Royal Caribbean fleet | Royal Caribbean Blog

Gross Tonnage: 73,817 GRT

Length: 916 feet long

Beam: 105.6 feet wide

Passengers: 1,992 (double occupancy)

How fast do cruise ships go?

In:
14 Dec 2021

Cruise ships are massive ocean going vessels packed with lots to do, so how fast can they really go?

What to expect on your first cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

To move a ship as large as Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class cruise ships requires a combination of power generation and efficiency. After all, the easier something is to get going, the less energy required overall.

If you have seen a modern cruise ship up close, they are quite large and can move from port to port, and even continent to continent.

Here's everything you may have wondered about cruise ships and their speeds.

How fast can a cruise ship travel?

Royal Caribbean trademarks crown-shaped smokestack | Royal Caribbean Blog

Depending on the exact ship, cruise ships can get up to a good speed given the need.

Cruise ship speeds are measured in knots, and one knot is 1.15078 miles per hour on land.

According to Royal Caribbean, their ships average a speed between 18 to 20 knots, depending on the specific ship and itinerary travelled. This is equivalent to 20 to 23 miles per hour on land.

Aerial photos of Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

But how fast can they get up to if they needed? During her sea trials in 2016, Harmony of the Seas' top speed was in excess of 25 knots, making her the fastest cruise ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet at the time.

The reality is ships never approach their top speed because it's just not good for fuel consumption.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain explained that it makes more sense to cruise at a lower speed, "We would never go at that speed."

Time running out to send your comments to the CDC on cruises restarting | Royal Caribbean Blog

"The real objective is to go 18 or 19 knots much more efficiently, (and) the thing that makes it able to do that also makes it faster."

According to Fain, the fastest speed that other Royal Caribbean ships is under 25 knots.

In order to measure a ship's top speed, they calculate an average that takes into consideration going with and against the waves in the ocean. The weather plays a major role in how fast a ship could travel, just like how an airplane's top speed can depend on how strong of a tail or headwind it encounters.

Similarly, a ship's displacement, condition of the hull and propeller, or draft can all factor into a ship's top speed.

How cruise ships can go faster

Harmony of the Seas construction reaching a milestone | Royal Caribbean Blog

Looking at a massive cruise ship, it looks to be challenge to move the ships at almost any normal speed, so how do they do it?

The secret in managing speed versus fuel efficiency is in the ship's engineering.

Over the years, cruise ship design has seen improvements of the hull design and other design tweaks meant to allow the ship to move at faster speeds. As an example, Harmony of the Seas is 20% more efficient than Oasis or Allure of the Seas, thanks to improvements in hydrodynamic design, a new type of engine and product enhancements

Four Royal Caribbean cruise ships will get dry dock work in Spain | Royal Caribbean Blog

One example of using science to help ships be faster is via the installation of an air bubble system under the hull. Tiny bubbles stick to the bottom of the ship's hull so the ship literally is sailing on a cushion of air.

This air lubrication system allows the ship to float on air, with millions of tiny bubbles created under the hull to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. 

Essentially, every improvement means cruise ships can go faster with the same fuel use or the same speed with less energy.

What is the fastest cruise ship in the world?

Because Royal Caribbean cruise ships are meant to be pleasure vessel (as opposed to ocean liners that are designed to get passengers from one port to another), speed is not a major objective for these ships.

But fast speeds are still needed in the case of an onboard emergency, or to outrun bad weather.

By most accounts, the fastest ship is/was Cunard's Queen Mary 2, with a top speed of 30 knots, or 35 mph.  She was just a tad slower than sister vessel Queen Elizabeth 2, which ad a reported top speed of 32 knots.

Instead of the diesel-electric configuration found on many ships, Queen Mary 2 uses an integrated electric propulsion to achieve her faster-than-average speeds.

Beyond those Cunard ships, many contemporary cruise ships clock in right around Harmony of the Seas' top speed of around 25 knots.

Why do cruise ships travel at a slower speed?

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

Not only do cruise ships rarely travel at their fastest speed, but they often go much slower.

There can be many reasons why a cruise ship slows down, and it's not just to save fuel. Certainly fuel consumption can play a major role in determining what speed to travel at, but other conditions can dictate a slower speed.

One common reason is a short distance between ports of call. Cruise ships are scheduled to arrive in port at a certain time, and each hour they spend in port costs the company money in docking fees. As a result, a ship will reduce speed so they arrive exactly at the time they are scheduled to dock, and not earlier.

Live blogging from Adventure of the Seas – Day 6 – Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

On sea days, it is common for a ship to slow down to follow favorable weather so passengers can enjoy the sunshine. This is especially the case when the distance to the next port is short.

Sometimes, the Captain will even slow a ship down to everyone can see a sunset or other passing scenery.

In some places around the world, government regulations require cruise ships to travel at a slow speed. 

Royal Caribbean looks forward to big plans in 2022 and 2023

In:
17 Nov 2021

As Royal Caribbean moves deeper into its restart process, the cruise line is beginning to focus more on what's to come instead of what has happened over the past two years.

royalcaribbeanblog.com

With the cruise industry back in operations, and Royal Caribbean ready to bring all of its ships into service by early 2022, some of the projects and plans that were paused during the shutdown are moving forward again.

Overlooking so many of these plans is Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean Group's Chief Product Innovation Officer (CXO).

To get a better sense of what's coming next year, Mr. Schneider sat down with us to preview the big things Royal Caribbean has planned over the next two years.

Hideaway Beach

A new expansion to Perfect Day at CocoCay will bring an adults-only area to the private island.

"One of the things we've heard from a segment of our guests, not all of our guests, is that they want a adult only experience," Schneider said of the decision to go in this direction.

Mr. Schneider also confirmed the new area will be complimentary to guests, "we haven't announced that yet, but I will tell you that it's going to be complimentary."

"There's no reason, if you think of the experience that we're trying to offer, to offer it for pay.

The Hideaway Beach expansion is just one idea Royal Caribbean has for the future of the island. According to Schneider, the cruise line has "a much larger ambition" for the private destination.

As to when it might open, it is not yet certain but late 2022 is the general timeline Mr. Schneider thinks is likely.

Wonder of the Seas

Wonder of the Seas: Itinerary, features, and more | Royal Caribbean Blog

The fifth Oasis Class cruise ship will debut in March 2022 when Wonder of the Seas begins sailings from Florida.

There is a lot to look forward to in this new ship, including a new approach to the Aquatheater. Schneider believes an idea like this is less about designing for one market, but rather an idea that makes sense globally.

"We acclimatized the the Aqua Theater.... it's the next step in the evolution of the Oasis class. But it's cold in January and February in the Caribbean, and sometimes the Aquatheater is cold."

Why cruise ships are getting bigger | Royal Caribbean Blog

"The acclimatized solarium is again gorgeous architecture and gives us that versatility to make it truly a global ship. Some of the things that people would have looked at and said that feels more like a China centric ship actually really help us out globally."

In terms of exciting new features, Mr. Schneider thinks the evolution of the open pool deck is going to be a great upgrade for this ship.

"I think the open deck on wonder is going to go even yet to the next level, and I say that for a couple of reasons. Number one. It's an Oasis class ship. It's going to have Lime and Coconut. It's going to have all of the ideas and experiences and pool space and shading that you'd expect as a guest that you saw in Oasis, but even bigger."

"It'll have the introduction of our eighth neighborhood, which is our sweet neighborhood. It'll have the largest jumbotron ever built on a ship."

Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean begins construction on its next generation cruise ship Icon of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean has divulged very few details thus far regarding its next class of cruise ship, the Icon Class, and Mr. Schneider did not have much to share other than it sounds like an exciting step forward.

The new ship is coming out in 2023, and he indicated guests should expect to hear a lot about Icon of the Seas once we move into 2022.

"You're going to hear about Icon in a pretty big way in 2022... I guarantee you you'll be impressed by what you see. It's the next evolution for the brand."

"It's been a decade since we've announced a new class. And so you can imagine we're spending a lot of energy making sure that it's going to be an amazing announcement."

Royal Beach Club

Report: Royal Caribbean targeting January 2023 opening of Royal Beach Club in Nassau, Bahamas | Royal Caribbean Blog

The first Royal Beach Club is set to open in Nassau, Bahamas, and it sounds like Royal Caribbean thinks this will be a major new option for guests.

"We've done repetitive environmental assessments. So we we feel that this will be a destination on the forefront of sustainable development, frankly, around the world for any land based destination.

"Our hope is in 2023 that we will be welcoming our first guests onto the Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island."

Royal Caribbean could finish Nassau Beach Club by May 2023 | Royal Caribbean Blog

This new project is not intended to be for all guests on a ship to do. Rather, it will supplement the Nassau offerings.

"Wwe're not trying to supplant kind of your experience in Nassau. We want to create an incremental opportunity for you as a guest in Nassau. We want you to go into Bay St., we want you to go to Atlantis. We want you to go do the things you've never done before. We also we wanted to create a world class beach club experience for you as a guests."

Listen to our interview with Jay Schneider

There is a lot more to what Mr. Schneider had to say about what's coming to Royal Caribbean over the next two years, including updates on Perfect Day at Lelepa, why we don't know more about Icon yet, and plenty other nuggets of details.

Listen to episode 431 of our interview with Jay Schneider in its entirety below.

Be sure to subscribe to the RoyalCaribbeanBlog Podcast at Google PodcastsApple PodcastsTuneIn, and Stitcher.

12 differences between the big and small Royal Caribbean cruise ships

In:
23 Jul 2021

What exactly is the difference between a big or small Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and what do you get or give up with either?


Photo by Volnei M.

Royal Caribbean's fleet of 25 cruise ships means there are all sorts of sizes you can choose from, and each has its own set of advantages and drawbacks.  Certainly there are plenty of differences, but the major differences are key to understanding which ship is best for you.

Often new cruisers want to know which Royal Caribbean ship is the worst, or which ships to avoid, and the answer is all the ships are good, but the real question is what do you want in a ship.

Here are some important considerations when comparing big Royal Caribbean ships to smaller ones.

Small is still big, relatively speaking

When we talk about "big" or "small" cruise ships, in Royal Caribbean's fleet, they are all big ships in the grand scheme of things.

Royal Caribbean has a reputation among the mainstream cruise lines for offering innovative and large ships, and many of the smallest ships in the fleet would still be pretty darn large if they suddenly became part of another cruise line.

The smallest Royal Caribbean cruise ships can still accommodate over 2,000 passengers, so remember that just because you sail on a smaller Royal Caribbean ship, does not mean you will be on a yacht or expedition vessel.

If you truly want small ships, you would have to consider one of Royal Caribbean's sister brands, such as Celebrity Cruises or Silver Sea.

Public space

The bigger the ship, the more public space the ship can provide passengers.

Public space is areas of the ship where you can congregate and enjoy, such as a pool deck or promenade deck.

Larger ships have wide open spaces, including shopping districts, open air venues, and even a park.

That isn't to say a smaller ship has no public space.  Because larger ships have more deck space, Royal Caribbean can offer more areas for passengers.

Cost

It is always difficult to make generalizations about the price of a cruise, but overall, larger ships tend to cost more than smaller ships.

Because bigger ships tend to be newer than smaller ships, bigger ships come with a higher price tag.  Essentially, you are paying a premium to sail on the latest and greatest, so bargain hunters will find the best deals on smaller and/or older cruise ships.

That is not to say there are not deals to be had on even the newest ships in the fleet, just that if you were to compare prices over a wide swath of possible sailings, you would find a price advantage for smaller ships.

Dining choices

If variety of places you can eat, especially specialty restaurants, matters to you, then bigger ships are what you want.

Because big ships have more space to include more offerings, you will almost always find more restaurants on bigger ships than smaller ships.

There is generally the same basic complimentary venues, such as a main dining room, buffet, and grab-and-go spot.  So you will never go hungry or be at a loss of where to eat.

Kind of like a big city will have more restaurants than a small city, the same is true for big vs small ships. Bigger ships will have more complimentary dining venues, as well as more specialty restaurants.

For anyone that prefers specialty restaurant choices, a big ship will always offer more variety.

Ports you can visit

Not every cruise port in the world can accommodate big ships, so if you want to visit more exotic locations, you will need to sail on a small ship.

In the Caribbean, there is very little difference in port choices since most Caribbean ports can accommodate even the largest ships in the world.

But as you look to sail elsewhere in the world, you will find other ports of call that cannot handle a big ship.

This is especially true of any port that does not have a pier, and requires ships to tender.

In fact, Oasis Class ships are incapable of tendering, so that precludes them from being able to visit places like Belize or Grand Cayman.

Larger staterooms

Some families prefer to stay in one room, and cabins that can handle bigger groups tend to be found with more regularity on bigger ships.

Suites tend to be the predominant choice for larger rooms that can accommodate more than 4 people.

While small ships have suites, big ships have many more suite options.  

Views of the ocean

It may not seem like a big deal, but being able to see the ocean while you are inside a cruise ship can be important to some guests.

Bigger ships tend to be more inward facing, whereas small ships feature many more windows and ocean viewing opportunities.

Part of the reason for this difference is based in the evolution of cruise ships over the last few decades, where cruise ships started becoming destinations in and of itself.

Not everyone minds missing out on the scenery going by, but on sailings where the landscape around you matters more (i.e. Alaska or Northern Europe), being able to see outside from bars, lounges, and other public spaces becomes more important.

Motion in the ocean

Another generalization that may not be true for everyone is bigger ships are going to offer passengers potentially a smoother ride than small ships.

Modern cruise ships are equipped with stablizers, but simple physics tells us a larger ship is going to need more ocean current to be "rocked" than a smaller ship.

That is not to say if you sail on a small ship you will feel like a boat in a bathtub with an angry toddler nearby, but many repeat cruisers will swear by bigger ships offering a more stable ride.

Onboard activities

In addition to public space, big ships have more room to offer the fun activities you probably read and heard about on a cruise.

You will absolutely find more water slides, pools, simulators, and things to do on a big ship compared to a small ship.

Royal Caribbean's smallest cruise ships lack water slides at all, and the Radiance Class have a single kiddy water slide that is only suitable for young children.

Whether or not these whiz-bang activities matters to you is an entirely different question, but families tend to gravitate towards ships that have more to do, and bigger ships have plenty of them.

Entertainment

Whether you love Broadway musicals or production shows, the big ships have them.

Did you know Royal Caribbean has full-length Broadway musicals you can see onboard for absolutely no additional cost? It's true, but only on their large ships.

Small ships have production shows too, but they are not nearly as ornate as big ships, and the shows on small ships almost certainly have not been updated in many years. Once again, that is not inherently a bad thing, but for some people this matters.

Casino

For the gamblers, all ships have a casino, but the big ships have a bigger casino space.

More space in the casino means more games, including slots and tables.  This becomes more important in the evenings when lots of passengers head to the casino to gamble, and tables fill up quickly for the lowest stakes games.

Even the smallest Royal Caribbean ships offer the same kind of games, so you are not compromising when it comes to picking a ship and losing out on your favorite game.

Intimacy

No, not that kind of intimacy.

Small ships make it easier to get around the ship and meet the crew members and other guests, which means you get to know everyone else onboard just a little bit better.

The people sailing with you are a major component of the vacation, and being able to meet up with friends and family onboard, or find your favorite waiter, is easier on a small ship.

Not only that, getting from point A to point B is easier on a small ship and requires less walking.

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