Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

Is it a boat vs ship? What's the difference?

18 Mar 2023

Referring to a cruise ship as a boat is one of the biggest faux pas when it comes to cruising. We’ve all heard a first-time cruiser exclaim “Look how big that boat is!” without realizing that they should be calling it a ship.

Cruise ships are massive vessels that can weigh over 200,000 tons—the polar opposite of a small sailboat or canoe—but what is the difference between a boat and a ship?

Generally speaking, a boat refers to a small vessel whereas a ship refers to a large vessel. This may seem obvious, but it’s the easiest way to classify a boat versus a ship. A common way to compare the two is that a boat can be carried on a ship, but a ship cannot be carried on a boat.

Promenade deck

However, the exact definition of a boat versus a ship cannot be determined by just size. At what size does a boat become a ship? Does having a certain number of engines turn a boat into a ship? Or does the body of water a vessel travels through determine if it is a boat or ship?

Unfortunately, there’s no standard, internationally-accepted definition of a boat versus a ship. Nonetheless, there are a few ways in which you can usually tell the difference between a boat and a ship.

Size of a boat versus a ship

The most obvious difference between a boat and a ship is size—boats are smaller than ships. Depending on the source, a water going vessel could be considered a ship when it is over 100 feet in length, although by some definitions it must be even longer.

Length is not the only factor that determines whether it is a ship or boat, though. Some definitions require a vessel to weigh over 500 tons to be considered a ship. For reference, the average sailboat weighs a little over four tons while the smallest Royal Caribbean ship has a gross tonnage of nearly 80,000!

Ships also have the potential to transport boats. The largest cruise ships, for example, carry around twenty lifeboats, but you'll never see a lifeboat carrying a ship (hence why it’s a lifeboat and not a lifeship).

Powering a boat versus a ship

Powering a ship is a complex operation. Ships have much more complex technology onboard, with modern navigation systems and operational equipment.

Allure of the Seas—one of Royal Caribbean’s biggest ships—has six engines that provide 13,500 horsepower, making the 225,282 ton vessel sail smoothly through the seas. In addition to engines are tunnel thrusters, stabilizers, gas turbines, wastewater treatment systems, and large galleys.

Boats, on the other hand, don’t require such complex mechanics. Small boats, such as canoes and kayaks, can be powered by a single paddle, whereas sailboats move with the wind. You certainly won’t see a Royal Caribbean ship powered by wind!

Boats can also be powered by motors, but they aren’t nearly as powerful as the engines you’ll find on a ship.

Crew, passengers, and cargo

Powering a ship requires much more technology compared to a boat. Most Royal Caribbean cruise ships have over 1,000 crew members working onboard, and most of them are not even involved in the technical operation of the ship.

Sure, you have crew working in the engine room, but there are chefs, stateroom attendants, entertainers, and musicians onboard as well, something you won’t find on most boats.

Other ships, such as cargo ships, may only have 20 to 30 crew members onboard. This is still much more than you’ll find on most boats, especially those built for only two or three people. Even most luxury yachts, which are considered large for boat standards, almost always have a crew under 15 people.

Some people classify a ship as a vessel that has a permanent crew whether the ship is in use or not. A boat may only be manned when it’s in use (i.e. traveling on the water instead of docked).

Furthermore, ships often carry passengers to travel long distances from one place to another. While small boats like water taxis may also carry passengers, it’s typically only for a short distance and there aren’t private cabins for each passenger onboard.

Another way to distinguish between a boat and a ship is in the ship’s cargo. Today’s largest container ships can hold nearly 25,000 containers, with the average somewhere around 15,000. A boat could never compete with the cargo capacity of a cargo ship, with each container weighing over 5,000 pounds when empty!

Boats don’t usually carry cargo, unless it’s a small fishing boat carrying the day’s catch.

Where they sail

Ships and boats typically sail in different bodies of water. Ships usually sail in the ocean, traveling far distances to carry cargo or passengers. You won’t find a ship traveling in a small lake or river, but you will find ships traversing the world’s oceans from one continent to another.

Examples of ships include cruise ships, container ships, tankers, offshore vessels, naval ships, and large ferries.

Boats most commonly sail in smaller bodies of water, including ponds, lakes, and rivers. Most boats only travel close to the coast, as they aren’t designed to travel long distances across the open ocean.

Examples of boats include small ferries, water taxis, towing vessels, sailboats, kayaks, and canoes.

What about sailboats and submarines?

It’s common to classify a boat as a vessel that does not travel long distances in the ocean, but what about a sailboat?

Most sailboats are considered to be boats instead of ships. They are significantly smaller than vessels like cargo ships and cruise ships, hold fewer passengers and crew, and are usually used for short-term travel near the coast.

However, there is a difference between a sailboat and a sailing ship. Sailing ships are larger vessels with at least three masts, and with square sails on each mast. These ships were the standard vessels used for ocean travel during the Age of Discovery in the 15th century.

Yet submarines, which should be considered ships, are considered boats. This is due to the history of submarines. Early submarines were carried on ships, so they were classified as boats. As submarines became bigger and bigger over time, the name stuck, and they are still called boats today.

The bottom line

If you’re looking for a concrete definition of a ship versus a boat, you won’t find one. More often than not, it’s easy to distinguish between the two by comparing the size of the vessel, its mechanics, and the body of water the vessel travels through.

As you can see, there are many exceptions, such as with submarines and large sailing ships. If there’s one thing we know for certain, however, it’s that you should never call a cruise ship a boat!

I sailed on Royal Caribbean’s newest and oldest cruise ships: here's what it's like to cruise on each

07 Mar 2023

In the past year, I’ve sailed on Royal Caribbean’s oldest and newest cruise ships, and I wanted to see how they compare in terms of cabins, dining options, activities, and overall experience.

Despite being part of the same cruise line, my experience on a Royal Caribbean ship launched in 1997 was drastically different from the week I spent on a ship built in 2018. Everything from passenger demographics to entertainment and itineraries were vastly different from each other.

I expected to find the newer, bigger ship far superior, but I ended up having a wonderful experience on both ships.

Nonetheless, my experiences on both Royal Caribbean ships reinforced the importance of selecting a cruise ship wisely before booking your vacation. Not all Royal Caribbean ships are created equally, and here’s what it’s like to sail on both Royal Caribbean’s oldest and newest cruise ships.

Last summer, I cruised on Rhapsody of the Seas, one of the oldest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, and I paid $1,512.

Launched in 1997, Rhapsody of the Seas is currently the 2nd oldest Royal Caribbean cruise ship. At 915 feet long, with a gross tonnage of 78,491, and a maximum capacity of 2,416 guests, she’s also among the smallest ships in the fleet.

Rhapsody of the Seas provides a more traditional cruise ship experience to guests. Her small size means she can sail to a wide range of destinations around the world, and the onboard atmosphere is generally more relaxed than that of the fleet’s newest ships.

Related: All about Vision Class cruise ships

The ship has two pools, six jacuzzis, eight dining venues, and a selection of bars and lounges. Kids onboard can enjoy a rock climbing wall and complimentary programming at Adventure Ocean, although the ship isn’t as family-focused as other Royal Caribbean ships.

In total, I paid $1,512 for an interior room on a 7-night cruise to Greece. This cost included the price of two adults with taxes, fees, and prepaid gratuities added, making the total price $756 per person.

Last month, I cruised on Symphony of the Seas, which is the 2nd biggest cruise ship in the world, and I paid $1,656.

Symphony of the Seas docked at CocoCay

Launched in 2018, Symphony of the Seas is the 3rd newest ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. As an Oasis Class cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas is massive. She is 1,188 feet long, weighs 228,081 gross tons, and has a maximum capacity of 6,680 passengers.

As an Oasis Class ship, Symphony of the Seas is split into seven distinct neighborhoods, each of which offers its own amenities and purpose. Neighborhoods include Central Park, a sprawling outdoor park with over 20,000 plants, and the Boardwalk, a family-focused neighborhood with a carousel, arcade, candy shop, and sports bar.

Related: Symphony of the Seas Guide & Review

As one of the world’s biggest cruise ships, Symphony of the Seas offers activities for cruisers of all ages, whether you want to sunbathe at the pool or try thrilling activities like a zip line or laser tag.

In total, I paid $1656 for an interior room on a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise. The cost was for two adults in an interior cabin with taxes, fees, and prepaid gratuities added, making the total price $828 per person.

My cabin on Rhapsody of the Seas had outdated decor, while my Symphony of the Seas cabin had updated furnishings and plenty of storage space.

Rhapsody of the Seas is over 25 years old, and our cabin definitely showed its age. Our cabin had older bedding, the furniture upholstery could use an update, and we had a cloth shower curtain in the bathroom.

The color scheme was relatively outdated, too, with dark green furniture and cream-tinted walls, and the room’s size left little walking space.

On the contrary, my Symphony of the Seas cabin appeared modern, spacious (for an interior cabin), and with an impressive amount of storage space.

The cabin had closet and drawer space on each side of the bed in addition to a dresser with more drawers. The blue color scheme was more pleasing than Rhapsody’s outdated decor, and I found the room to be much more comfortable during our time onboard.

My one gripe with our cabin was that I feel the bed would have been better placed at the back of the room. We constantly had to walk around a tiny space between the bed and desk to reach the dresser and couch; the cabin layout seemed poorly designed.

On Rhapsody of the Seas, I ate primarily at the buffet and Main Dining Room. Symphony of the Seas had many more complimentary dining options available.

Rhapsody of the Seas, being a smaller cruise ship, has limited complimentary dining venues. There are four places to grab complimentary food onboard: the Main Dining Room, Windjammer buffet, Park Cafe, and Cafe Latte-tudes.

I enjoyed most meals at the Main Dining Room and Windjammer, as these venues have the most options. I was impressed with the buffet’s food selection, and it was one of the best buffet experiences I’ve had on Royal Caribbean so far.

Related: Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise

We did make a few stops at Park Cafe during the late-night hours, which run from 9PM to 1AM. During these hours, Park Cafe served pizza, sandwiches, and desserts, and it was the only late-night option available onboard.

Unsurprisingly, Symphony of the Seas has many more complimentary dining options to cater to nearly 7,000 passengers. There are ten places to eat included in your cruise fare on the ship, from Mexican cuisine at El Loco Fresh to pizza at Sorrento’s.

El Loco Fresh

Park Cafe on Symphony of the Seas is located in the ship’s Central Park neighborhood. Like on Rhapsody of the Seas, this venue offers grab and go options like bagels, salads, soups, and sandwiches. I much preferred the outdoor location on Symphony of the Seas, but the venue wasn’t open for late night snacks like on Rhapsody of the Seas.

I found the buffet on Symphony of the Seas to be lacking, though, and wasn’t particularly impressed with any of my meals there. The buffet’s size also felt much more cramped compared to on Rhapsody of the Seas, despite the ship being so much bigger.

Wonderland was my favorite restaurant experience on Symphony of the Seas. Rhapsody of the Seas had more traditional specialty dining options, but that doesn’t mean the dining experience wasn’t enjoyable.


In addition to complimentary dining, both ships offered several specialty dining options.

I tried four specialty restaurants on Symphony of the Seas: Jamie’s Italian, Izumi Sushi, Wonderland, and Playmakers. Of the restaurants, Wonderland was my favorite dining experience.

Wonderland is an eclectic restaurant based loosely on the tales of Alice and Wonderland. The restaurant goes above and beyond standard menu choices by offering unique, imaginative dishes that don’t necessarily look the same as they taste.


Our caprese appetizer, for example, was "reconstructed" caprese. Instead of a dish with slices of tomatoes and mozzarella, it consisted of cubed goat and bocconcini cheese with blue cheese meringue and basil puree.

To eat the dish, you first had to smash a reconstructed tomato into the cheese, which had been drained and blended with agar and Bloody Mary mix. “Creating” and mixing the dish together was just as fun as eating it!


Related: I spent $60 to eat at Royal Caribbean's most bizarre restaurant. I thought I would hate it, but it was one of the best meals of my cruise.

Despite being one of Royal Caribbean’s smallest ships, I found myself surprised by the amount of specialty dining options on Rhapsody of the Seas. The ship has four: Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Izumi Sushi, and Chef’s Table.

We dined at Izumi Sushi one evening of our cruise and found the ambiance and food to be just as enjoyable as on Royal Caribbean’s newest ships.

Although the newest Royal Caribbean restaurants aren’t available on Rhapsody of the Seas—like Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Hooked Seafood—I found the variety of specialty options adequate for sailing on an older ship.

It’s no question that the entertainment on Symphony of the Seas was several notches higher than that on Rhapsody of the Seas.

While performers on both Symphony of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas were equally talented, it was clear the entertainment on the latter had a much higher budget.

I don’t necessarily cruise for entertainment shows, but I was beyond impressed with the shows on Symphony of the Seas. From the ice skating performance in Studio B to the Broadway production of Hairspray, I made sure to never miss a show onboard.

The most impressive production, in my opinion, was HiRO in the ship’s AquaTheater. This show combined high diving, slacklining, tightropes, aerial acrobatics, synchronized swimming, and dancing for one of the most mind-boggling performances I’ve ever seen on a cruise ship.

The entertainment on Rhapsody of the Seas, on the other hand, is the area in which the ship fell the most flat for me. Not only does the ship have far fewer entertainment venues, with most productions in the main theater, but I found the shows to be a bit outdated for my generation.

I did enjoy the variety of live music on both ships, from piano tunes to jazz bands and reggae music. If I had to pick one ship over the other when it comes to entertainment, though, I’d definitely pick Symphony of the Seas.

The pool deck on Rhapsody of the Seas had a more relaxed vibe than that on Symphony of the Seas, and I preferred it.

While I preferred entertainment on Symphony of the Seas, I preferred the pool deck on Rhapsody of the Seas.

With so many passengers on Symphony of the Seas, the pool deck was packed nearly every time I tried to use it. I wasn’t interested in sharing a hot tub with 20 other passengers or swimming in a crowded pool full of kids splashing around.

I noticed much more chair hogging than usual, too, and it was nearly impossible to find a pool chair in the middle of the day.

With traditional decor and a lack of waterslides, the pool deck on Rhapsody of the Seas was not as exciting as Symphony of the Seas, but I preferred the more relaxed vibe. With one pool outside and one pool in the adults-only Solarium, I didn’t encounter nearly as many crowds using the pools.

While the lack of crowds could have been due to our port-intensive itinerary, I found myself enjoying the pool deck far more on an older cruise ship.

Activities were much more varied on Symphony of the Seas, but there were way more kids onboard.

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships offer a far greater amount of activities onboard compared to the fleet’s oldest vessels. It’s practically impossible to feel bored on Symphony of the Seas, and I was almost overwhelmed with the amount of activities to choose from.

Whether riding waterslides, rock climbing, or using the FlowRider, each day onboard was packed with a full schedule of activities. Even if adrenaline isn’t your thing, you could still find an abundance of programming onboard, from trivia to game shows, live music, and dance parties.

Symphony of the Seas is especially popular with families, and there were a lot of kids onboard. With a large Adventure Ocean kids-only space and family-friendly activities like a carousel and Splashaway Bay, it’s no surprise that there were tons of families onboard.

As someone without kids, however, I have to say I preferred the more adult-focused atmosphere on Rhapsody of the Seas. Although Rhapsody of the Seas still had activities for kids, the ship doesn’t seem catered to families nearly as much as Symphony of the Seas.

If I were to bring my young nephews on a cruise, sailing on Symphony of the Seas would undoubtedly be a better choice. If I’m cruising with all adults, though, I think I prefer a smaller, less family-focused ship.

The itinerary on Rhapsody of the Seas was much more interesting than Symphony of the Seas, and visiting unique ports made the small ship experience worth it.

Rhapsody of the Seas in Kotor

Generally speaking, Royal Caribbean’s oldest, smallest cruise ships offer much more fascinating itineraries compared to their newer ships.

New Royal Caribbean cruise ships focus more on the ship itself rather than the destination, and their big size means they can’t fit into as many cruise ports as smaller ships. While there’s nothing wrong with viewing the cruise ship as your vacation destination, I find the itineraries on smaller, older Royal Caribbean ships to be far more interesting.

Related: 15 countries you didn't know you could cruise to on Royal Caribbean

My Rhapsody of the Seas sailing left from Athens, Greece and visited Mykonos, Crete, Zakynthos, Kotor, and Split before ending in Ravenna, Italy. We only had one sea day on our entire 7-night cruise, and the ship felt more like an afterthought compared to the incredible ports we were visiting.

When I booked my cruise on Symphony of the Seas, I had fewer itinerary options. The ship’s Caribbean itineraries visit the same ports week after week, and the itineraries all visited popular cruise ports I’ve been to before.

I settled on a Western Caribbean cruise, and while I won’t ever complain about spending the day in Mexico, I much prefer the wider range of itinerary options on Royal Caribbean’s oldest ships.

Overall, I enjoyed sailing on both ships. Each ship comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, which may vary depending on your travel style.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Royal Caribbean’s older, smaller ships. While they may lack the shiny, sparkly new decor and venues, I appreciate the more traditional cruise ship experience they offer.

I’m perfectly happy sitting on the promenade deck and watching the ocean pass by without worrying about rushing to trivia or a theater show.

At the same time, however, I do enjoy the upgraded entertainment and programming available on Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ships. There’s something special about eating breakfast in Central Park, strolling through the Royal Promenade, and having endless choices.


If there’s anything my experience on both ships taught me, it’s that having the right mindset can make or break your cruise vacation. If I boarded Rhapsody of the Seas expecting it to be on the same level as Symphony of the Seas, I would have been disappointed.

Likewise, if I boarded Symphony of the Seas expecting it to be a quiet, traditional cruise environment, I would have been shocked once onboard.

Whenever you book a Royal Caribbean cruise, it’s helpful to remain open and flexible to trying something new. You might surprise yourself by how much you enjoy cruising on a ship you never would have considered, whether it’s the biggest, most exciting ship in the fleet or the oldest and smallest vessel.

2023 Royal Caribbean ship classes ultimate guide

23 Jan 2023

Royal Caribbean's ship classes are known for offering some of the biggest cruise ships in the world.

Symphony of the Seas

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

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 are 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.

How many classes are there in Royal Caribbean?

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.

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 Icon Class, Oasis Class, or Quantum Class cruise ship.

The Icon Class is Royal Caribbean’s largest class of cruise ships and can hold 7,600 max guests (5,610 at double capacity). The first ship in the class, Icon of the Seas, will debut in January 2024.

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 Icon and 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?

Icon Class

Icon of the Seas render at sea

When Icon of the Seas sets sail in 2024 from Miami, she will be the world’s largest cruise ship. She will be over 6% bigger than Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships, and will offer nearly unlimited activities, amenities, and dining options onboard.

This is the first new class of ships since the Quantum Class debuted in 2014, and the Icon Class is the first class to be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas).

Related: Which Royal Caribbean ships are powered by LNG?

Icon of the Seas aerial aft night

Icon of the Seas will debut several new features not found elsewhere in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, including the cruise line’s first onboard waterpark and indoor AquaDome space.

Icon Class ships, like Oasis Class ships, will be split into neighborhoods:

  • The AquaDome, home to an indoor AquaTheater and lounge space
  • Central Park, an outdoor oasis with shops and restaurants
  • Chill Island, the pool deck of Icon of the Seas
  • Thrill Island, home to the Category 6 waterpark and sports activities
  • Surfside, a family-friendly neighborhood with a pool, Splashaway Bay, and kid-friendly dining venues
  • The Hideaway, located in the aft of the ship with a pool, bar, whirlpools, and seating areas
  • Suite Neighborhood, a private neighborhood for suite guests with a pool, sun deck, and two dining venues
  • Royal Promenade, an indoor thoroughfare with retail, lounges, and restaurants
Icon of the Seas on the water render

Related: Icon of the Seas: itinerary, features, and more

Why choose Icon Class: If you want the biggest, boldest, and most exciting cruise ships at sea, an Icon Class ship will provide all of that and more! The ship truly is the destination with the Icon Class, and it’s especially fun for families.

Icon Class ships

  • Icon of the Seas (coming January 2024)
  • Unnamed Icon Class ship (2025)
  • Unnamed Icon Class ship (2026)

Related: 7 of the most cutting-edge features coming to Icon of the Seas

Icon Class highlights

Hideaway at sunset
  • Category 6 waterpark
  • Swim-up pool
  • The Hideaway neighborhood with a suspended pool
  • Cloud 17 adults-only area
  • AquaDome neighborhood
  • Surfside neighborhood for families
  • Suites-only neighborhood
  • Largest ice skating rink in the fleet
  • The Pearl
  • New suites and stateroom categories
  • Central Park
  • FlowRider surf simulator

Related: Guide to Icon of the Seas cabins and suites

Oasis Class

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 cruise ships are the largest cruise ships in the world sailing today.

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

Related: All about Oasis Class cruise ships  

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. 

Related: All about Quantum Class ships

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.

Related: All about Freedom Class cruise ships

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.

Related: All about Voyager Class cruise ships

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.

Related: All about Radiance Class cruise ships

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.

Related: All about Vision Class cruise ships

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

Planning a Royal Caribbean cruise? Start here:

I've only sailed Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class ships: Will I be disappointed if I try other ships?

17 Jan 2023

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships are extremely popular, and many people only book cruises on the Oasis Class. With an open-air park, kid-friendly Boardwalk, thrilling activities, and world-class entertainment, it’s no secret that Oasis Class ships are something special, but what about Royal Caribbean’s other cruise ships?

If you’ve only cruised on Oasis Class cruise ships before, it’s understandable that you’d choose to book only Oasis Class ships for future cruises. Many people are worried that, after they’ve experienced the “best of the best” by Royal Caribbean, a cruise on a different type of ship would not feel as special.

Yet with six (soon to be seven) classes of Royal Caribbean cruise ships, there is a whole world of cruising to discover outside of the Oasis Class. From the technology-focused, modern Quantum Class ships to the recently refurbished Freedom Class ships, it’s worth giving other Royal Caribbean ships a try.

Here are a few things you should know if you’ve only sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships and want to try something new.

Will I be disappointed if I try a different ship?

Probably the most common question we get from new cruisers that have only sailed on Oasis Class ships is will trying a different kind of Royal Caribbean ship be disappointing.

The short answer is, no, but it will be different.

Oasis Class ships offer so much to see and do, and while other ships may not have the sheer variety of things to do, they still offer a great cruise experience.

The Freedom and Voyager Class ships share a lineage with the Oasis Class, meaning there's a lot of similarities among them that will make you "feel at home" on them too. This includes a Royal Promenade, pool deck activities, theater, and dining room.

Royal Promenade on Adventure of the Seas

Going back to the question of being disappointed, the issue is understanding what the other Royal Caribbean ships have and don't have to ensure it matches up to what you want on a ship.

Someone going from an Oasis Class ship to a Radiance Class, but wanting a cruise ship that has water slides or a full Broadway show would indeed be disappointed. But if those features don't matter as much as the core Royal Caribbean experience, coupled with a different itinerary, may find the sailing fantastic.

As you'll see in this article, there are differences, but as long as you understand what's different and are okay with them, you can have a really great cruise experience on other ships too.

No Central Park

SOTS Central Park at Night

Central Park is a highlight of any cruise on an Oasis Class ship. The open-air neighborhood filled with trees, bushes, and flowers is unlike anything you’ll find on another cruise ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.

Related: Why Central Park is my favorite spot onboard

If you enjoyed spending time in the park–whether dining outdoors or listening to live music–it’s important to realize there’s nothing quite like Central Park on other ships.


Nonetheless, you’ll still find nice places to hang out on other Royal Caribbean ships. Most passengers on Quantum Class ships rave about Two70, a large indoor entertainment space featuring 270 degree views of the ocean from floor-to-ceiling windows.

Those on Vision, Radiance, Voyager, and Freedom Class ships, on the other hand, love the panoramic views from the Viking Crown Lounge.

Oasis Class aren’t the only mega ships by Royal Caribbean

If you were initially attracted to Oasis Class cruise ships due to their size, you’ll be happy to hear that Royal Caribbean has many other large ships in the fleet.

Quantum Class cruise ships are the second biggest type of Royal Caribbean ship. They have a capacity of nearly 5,000 passengers and weigh 168,000 tons! Onboard these ships you’ll find activities not available on Oasis Class ships, such as bumper cars and indoor skydiving.

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

Independence of the Seas at sunset at sea

Freedom Class vessels are also quite large, with a capacity of around 4,500 passengers.

Even Voyager Class ships, while smaller for Royal Caribbean, are still large cruise ships with a capacity of 4,000 passengers. Radiance and Vision Class ships, the smallest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, can still hold around 2,500 passengers.

Just because you sail on a non-Oasis Class ship doesn’t mean you’ll be sailing on a tiny, 200-person vessel.

Read more about Royal Caribbean’s ship classes:

There is still a lot to do on all Royal Caribbean ships

It’s understandable that Oasis Class cruise ships are featured in most Royal Caribbean online advertisements and television commercials; they offer the most “I can’t believe they put that on a cruise ship” activities like zip lining, a carousel, and AquaTheater shows.

However, all Royal Caribbean cruise ships offer countless ways to have fun. You’ll find virtual reality zones, waterslides, escape rooms, sports courts, bungee trampolines, indoor skydiving, mini golf, and rock climbing on other ships in the fleet, and the majority of activities are included in your cruise fare.

Related: 15 free things to try on your next cruise

Outside of these activities are game shows, trivia, karaoke, production shows, nightclubs, live musicians, and more, so there’s no need to worry about being bored on any Royal Caribbean ship.

(Probably) no Broadway show

If you enjoyed watching a full-length Broadway show on an Oasis Class ship, you should know that Broadway shows aren’t as common on other Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

In fact, you’ll only find Broadway shows on 3 non-Oasis Class ships:

  • Liberty of the Seas: Saturday Night Fever
  • Independence of the Seas: Grease
  • Anthem of the Seas: We Will Rock You

An absence of Broadway shows doesn’t mean there isn’t still high-quality entertainment on Royal Caribbean’s other ships, though, and you’ll still find signature production shows across the fleet.

Voyager and Freedom Class ships, like Oasis Class ships, have an ice-skating rink with performances throughout the cruise, and all Royal Caribbean ships have a theater. If you’re sailing on a Quantum Class ship, be sure to check out shows at Two70, a modern venue blending live performances with technology.

Related: Royal Caribbean's 7 ship classes ultimate guide

Look for amplified ships

If you’ve only cruised on Oasis Class ships before, you’ve become accustomed to Royal Caribbean’s latest entertainment, dining venues, activities, and amenities.

Although all Royal Caribbean ships provide an excellent cruise experience, sailing on the fleet’s oldest and smallest ships after an Oasis Class cruise ship can be an adjustment. You may find that some aspects of the ship feel outdated, there are fewer activities available, and dining choices are not nearly as wide as on a new ship.

Therefore, you may want to consider sailing on one of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class ships or an amplified Voyager or Freedom Class ship. Amplified ships are older cruise ships that have undergone a significant refurbishment to modernize the ship with new venues, amenities, and activities.

Bamboo room on Mariner of the Seas

Here’s a list of ships to consider when you want to branch out from only sailing on the Oasis Class:

Fewer dining options

Oasis Class ships have a wide selection of complimentary and specialty dining options. You can find food almost everywhere on the ship, and it’s diverse. From sandwiches at Park Cafe to burritos at El Loco Fresh, you’ll never go hungry on an Oasis Class ship.

And while you’ll never go hungry on any Royal Caribbean ship, you may find fewer dining choices on older ships. This is highly dependent on the ship, as amplified Voyager Class and Freedom Class ships as well as all Quantum Class ships have plenty of dining choices to choose from.

More itinerary options

One plus of cruising on a non-Oasis Class ship after only having cruised on the Oasis Class is having a wider range of itinerary options.

Due to their size, Oasis Class ships are limited to a smaller selection of ports compared to other Royal Caribbean vessels. Only cruising on Oasis Class ships means visiting ports like Cozumel, Nassau, Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Maarten, and Labadee over and over again.

Related: Ultimate Mexico Cruise Guide

Downtown Puerto Vallarta

And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with these cruise ports, it can get repetitive cruising to the same locations several times.

Other Royal Caribbean ships visit ports around the world, from Australia to Alaska, northern Europe, the Mexican Riviera, Southeast Asia, and more. You might be surprised to find cruises to countries and cities that you’ve always wanted to visit for a reasonable price on non-Oasis Class ships.

Related: 15 countries you didn’t know you could cruise to on Royal Caribbean

You might like other ships even more than the Oasis Class

Serenade of the Seas in Seattle

Many cruisers regard Oasis Class cruise ships as the best Royal Caribbean has to offer. In reality, however, the “best” cruise ship for one person is not best for another.

Some cruisers love the size and amenities of an Oasis Class ship, whereas others find themselves preferring smaller, more relaxed Royal Caribbean ships.

You never know what you’ll like until you try it, and even if you loved cruising on the Oasis Class, you might be surprised how much you enjoy sailing on other ships.

The suite experience can be different

Royal Suite on Liberty of the Seas

Oasis Class ships feature the Royal Suite Class, a tiered program of suite experiences for passengers in Junior Suites and above.

The Royal Suite Class enhances the traditional suite experience on Royal Caribbean, with the top tier (Star Class) providing unparalleled benefits including a personalized Royal Genie (magic maker) to curate the perfect cruise for you once onboard.

Related: Royal Caribbean suites guide & review

Grand Suite on Freedom

The Royal Suite Class is also available on Quantum Class cruise ships, but if you’re staying in a suite on other Royal Caribbean ships, you’ll experience a more traditional suite experience.

The suite experience on older ships is still fantastic, and it has many of the same benefits of suites on Oasis Class ships such as concierge service, Suite Lounge access, in-suite dining, etc. However, if you want the ultimate luxury experience on Royal Caribbean, you’ll find it in a Star Class suite on Oasis and Quantum Class ships only.

You’ll probably save money

Oasis Class ships are high in demand. Unsurprisingly, they come with a higher price tag than most other Royal Caribbean ships.

Sailing on a ship outside of the Oasis Class can offer a fantastic value in a cruise vacation, especially if you book a cruise ship over five years old. It’s not uncommon to find cruises on a Vision, Radiance, or Voyager Class ship for half the price of an Oasis Class ship, even if they’re sailing the same itinerary.

The caveat? Vision and Radiance Class ships have far fewer balconies available compared to the Oasis Class, meaning balcony prices on these ships can be priced similarly to an Oasis Class ship. Be sure to compare prices between cabin categories thoroughly before booking to ensure you’re getting a great deal.

More cruise tips & tricks:

See how Royal Caribbean ships stack up by size

01 Jan 2023

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.


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

Royal Caribbean cruise ships by size

1. Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas render at sea

Gross Tonnage: 250,800 GRT

Length: 1,198 feet long

Passengers: 5,610 (double occupancy)

2. 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)

3. 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)

4. 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)

5. 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)

6. 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)

7. 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)

8. 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)

9. 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)

10. 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)

11. 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)

12. 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)

13. 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)

14. 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)

15. 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)

16. 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)

17. 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)

18. 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)

19. 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)

20. 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)

21. 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)

22. 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)

23. Jewel of the Seas

Gross Tonnage: 90,090 GRT

Length: 962 feet long

Beam: 106 feet wide

Passengers: 2,191 (double occupancy)

24. 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)

25. 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) 

26. 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)

Pros and Cons of sailing on an older Royal Caribbean cruise ship

22 Dec 2022

While Royal Caribbean has over 20 cruise ships, they vary greatly in size, amenities, and activities. Everything from ice skating to waterslides can be found on the newest ships in the fleet, but older ships offer a much more traditional cruise experience.

If you’re interested in cruising on an older (~20+ year old) Royal Caribbean ship, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of sailing on smaller, older ships before booking. If you cruise on a Vision Class ship expecting the latest and greatest features, dining choices, and decor, you’ll likely end up disappointed.

Older ships don’t offer nearly as much to do as ships like Wonder of the Seas and Icon of the Seas, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid old cruise ships.

In fact, many cruisers find that older ships offer a more relaxed cruise experience at a lower cost than new ships. Plus, older ships visit some of the most unique destinations offered by Royal Caribbean.

Let’s weigh the pros and cons of cruising on an older ship to help you decide which ship to book for your next cruise.

Pros of cruising on older ships

Lower cost

One of the biggest perks of sailing on an older ship are the lower cruise fares available. You can find fantastic cruise deals on older ships, especially if you’re flexible with what time of the year you sail.

Related: How much can you save by sailing on an older Royal Caribbean cruise ship?

It’s not uncommon to see prices of smaller ships for half the price of a new ship on the same itinerary. When saving money on cruise fare, you can more easily budget extra for add-ons like drink packages, shore excursions, dining packages, spa treatments, etc.

Suites are cheaper

One further benefit of cheaper cruise fares on older ships is that suites also tend to be priced lower.

You can often find deals on higher-category suites on smaller ships for the same price as a balcony or Junior Suite on the newest cruise ships.

Related: Royal Caribbean suites guide & review

While suites don’t come with as many upgraded perks, such as the Royal Suite Class, on older ships, they can still offer a luxury cruising experience.

Intimate atmosphere

Smaller Royal Caribbean ships offer a more intimate atmosphere than the fleet’s largest vessels. Having only 2-3,000 passengers onboard creates a more familiar experience throughout the ship. You’ll often find that crew members and passengers connect more with each other on older ships.

With fewer passengers, you’re more likely to run into your favorite crew members and passengers several times throughout the sailing. This often leads to new conversations and friendships by the end of the sailing.

While you can certainly meet new people and connect with crew members on larger ships, it tends to be easier on the smaller Royal Caribbean ships.

Exotic itineraries

Royal Caribbean deploys its older, smaller ships to some of the most unique destinations visited by the cruise line. You’ll find itineraries on older ships visiting destinations such as Iceland, the Panama Canal, Croatia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Costa Rica.

Related: 15 countries you didn’t know you could cruise to on Royal Caribbean

Newer cruise ships tend to offer itineraries to the same destinations. If you only cruise on Oasis Class ships from Florida, for example, you’ll visit ports like Cozumel, St. Maarten, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Labadee, and Roatan over and over again.

More relaxed feel

While all Royal Caribbean ships can offer a relaxing vacation experience, you’ll often find the atmosphere on an older ship to be much more tranquil.

On the newest and biggest cruise ships, there’s often pressure to try everything you can on the ship. Whether waterslides, surfing simulators, ice-skating, escape rooms, or bumper cars, it’s easy to spend a cruise rushing from activity to activity.

That’s not to say older ships don’t offer activities onboard, however. You’ll find rock climbing walls on even the smallest Royal Caribbean ships and on Radiance Class ships you’ll even find an indoor movie theater!

Activities like trivia, live music, game shows, pool competitions, mini golf, and other onboard programming is also available on older ships.

Ocean views

Schooner Bar on Vision of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s older ships were built with many venues facing outward instead of inward, meaning you’ll find sprawling ocean views from almost everywhere onboard.

From floor-to-ceiling windows in specialty restaurants to the publicly-accessible helicopter pad on Radiance, Voyager, and Freedom Class ships, there’s no shortage of places to enjoy an ocean view on older ships.

Cons of cruising on older ships

Fewer balconies

While cruise ships today are built with several decks of balcony cabins, this was not the case in the past. Older cruise ships, such as Vision and Radiance Class ships, have far fewer balconies available than newer ships.

Related: Guide to balcony staterooms on Royal Caribbean

Having fewer balconies means these cabins can fill up quickly and you might pay a premium for a balcony room. While balcony rooms might be priced only slightly higher than interior and ocean view rooms on new ships, there’s often a bigger gap between the price of these categories on older ships.

Fewer dining choices

All Royal Caribbean cruise ships provide several dining options, but you’ll find far fewer dining choices on older and smaller cruise ships.

You’ll find the Main Dining Room, Windjammer, and a few grab and go food options on every Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Additional dining venues can vary greatly, though, and you won't find the cruise line's newest dining venues on older ships. If you're looking to try venues like Playmakers Sports Bar or The Mason Jar, for example, you'll have to cruise on a newer ship.

Because there are fewer dining options on older ships, you’ll find yourself dining in the Main Dining Room or Windjammer more often than you might on a newer ship.

Might be more movement

It’s possible you’ll feel more movement on an older ship compared to a newer, larger cruise ship. While it won’t feel like you’re on a small sailboat, feeling motion is not unheard of when cruising on small ships.

That being said, it’s possible to feel seasick on even the largest cruise ships in the world. Therefore, it’s not entirely possible to plan whether or not you’ll feel movement on one ship over another.

Related: How to prevent seasickness on a cruise

Outdated cabins

You’ll find the cabins on older ships much more outdated compared to new ships. One of the major differences is stateroom technology. Older cabins were built before the age of cell phones, so you’ll find very few outlets in your cabin.

Likewise, decor and furnishings will be outdated on older ships. While the wall art of your stateroom shouldn’t necessarily affect choosing one cruise ship over another, you shouldn’t expect the most modern amenities in a 20+ year old cruise cabin.

Fewer activities for kids

Every Royal Caribbean cruise can offer a wonderful vacation for families, but it’s crucial to realize that older ships won’t have as many family activities as newer ships.

Royal Caribbean’s TV commercials may feature activities like zip lining, virtual reality simulations, and waterslides, but it’s important to realize that not all ships offer these activities. Before wowing your kids with videos of the FlowRider and bumper cars, double check to see which activities are offered on the cruise ship you’ve booked.

Related: 50 best cruising with kids tips & secrets

Royal Caribbean’s smallest ships will still offer Adventure Ocean, a rock climbing wall, and family-friendly programming, but other signature activities can vary greatly by ship.

Limited entertainment

If attending record-breaking, unique entertainment productions is important to you on a cruise, you might want to reconsider cruising on an older ship.

Older ships typically only have shows in the theater whereas newer ships have far more venues, from an ice skating rink to the AquaTheater.

Most of the shows on older ships feature singing and dancing without much of a storyline, and the shows have likely not been updated for a long time. Because of this, some of the entertainment may be considered outdated.

While the performers are still talented no matter which Royal Caribbean ship they perform on, there’s no doubt that newer ships offer more updated, diverse entertainment than smaller ships.

Considering a cruise on an older ship? Check out more of our tips & tricks:

What's different about a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and the last ocean liner?

16 Dec 2022

Sailing on a Royal Caribbean ship makes for a memorable vacation experience, but what is it like to sail on the world’s last ocean liner?

Built in 2004 by Cunard, the Queen Mary 2 is the last remaining ocean liner offering passenger service. Cunard has a long history of building ocean liners, with hundreds of ships having been constructed since Cunard was founded in the mid 1800s.

Because ocean liners have such historical significance in global migration and transportation, many people are intrigued by the Queen Mary 2. Let’s take a look at what it’s like to sail on the Queen Mary 2 and how the experience can differ greatly from cruising with Royal Caribbean.

What's the difference between an ocean liner and a cruise ship?

Ocean liners are used to provide transportation from one destination to another without stopping at various ports of call for leisurely travel days in between. They are designed and built to sail long distances, often between the US and Europe.

Here are some of the major differences between an ocean liner and a cruise ship:

Speed: Ocean liners are constructed to move quickly through the ocean. The Queen Mary 2 has a max speed of 30 knots (35mph). Wonder of the Seas, by comparison, has a maximum speed of 22 knots (25mph). The Queen Mary 2 is the fastest passenger ship in service today.

Draft: The draft (distance between the waterline and bottom of hull) is 34 feet on the Queen Mary 2. Royal Caribbean ships, on the other hand, have between a 25 and 31 foot draft depending on the vessel.

Steel Thickness: Ocean liners are designed with thicker steel on the ship’s hull. This helps the Queen Mary 2 endure the stress she takes on during frequent transatlantic voyages in the Atlantic. 

Longer bow: Ocean liners are built with a long bow designed to cut through rough waters in the open ocean.

Movement: You tend to feel much less movement on an ocean liner than a cruise ship due to the ship’s design, which is welcomed on long ocean crossings. Most public areas–including the buffet, which is usually found on higher decks–are located  midship and on lower decks, which decreases any movement felt in these spaces.

Size of the Queen Mary 2 versus Royal Caribbean ships

The Queen Mary 2 has capacity for 2,691 guests and 1,173 crew members. She has a length of 1,132 feet and a gross tonnage of 148,528.

Royal Caribbean ships vary by size according to ship class. The Queen Mary 2 is most similar in size to Freedom Class cruise ships. Freedom of the Seas, for example, has a length of 1,112 feet and a gross tonnage of 154,407.

Onboard experience: Royal Caribbean ships versus the Queen Mary 2

Royal Caribbean ships and the Queen Mary 2 may both be passenger ships, but the onboard experience can be quite different. Whereas you might spend your days moving from one thrilling activity to another on a Royal Caribbean cruise, sailing on the Queen Mary offers a more laid-back, traditional cruising experience.

Pool deck: As an ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2 does not have a traditional pool deck. You’ll find pools spread throughout the ship, with pools on decks 6, 7, 8, and 12. Instead of a pool, the top deck of the Queen Mary 2 features a large, open sun deck often used for shuffleboard.

Biggest library: Royal Caribbean ships have small libraries, but the Queen Mary 2 has a 700 square foot library with over 10,000 books!

Planetarium: The Queen Mary 2 has a planetarium onboard which provides daily shows.

Lectures: Royal Caribbean ships occasionally provide guest lectures, but they are not nearly as common as on the Queen Mary 2. When sailing on the Queen Mary 2, the Cunard Insights enrichment program offers seminars and talks by famous historians, explorers, politicians, and other experts.

Entertainment: Royal Caribbean is known for its unique entertainment offerings, such as dynamic AquaTheater performances and ice-skating shows. The Queen Mary 2 features more traditional entertainment, from pianists to jazz ensembles and theater shows.

Family-friendly activities: Royal Caribbean is known for being a family-friendly cruise line, and while the Queen Mary 2 accommodates children, it is not nearly as family-friendly as Royal Caribbean. You won’t find activities like waterslides, ziplining, ice-skating, and surfing simulators onboard the Queen Mary 2.

Dress codes

Sailing on the Queen Mary 2 is a more formal experience overall than sailing on Royal Caribbean, and dress codes are taken seriously while onboard. You can wear the same casual clothes you’d wear on Royal Caribbean during the day on the Queen Mary 2, but evening wear will differ.

What you might wear to formal night on a Royal Caribbean cruise is what you’d wear to a casual night on the Queen Mary 2. Collared shirts, cocktail dresses, and blouses are typical daily dinner outfits on the Queen Mary 2.

Related: What to wear on a cruise formal night

Formal nights onboard the Queen Mary 2 are called Gala Evenings, and they are a black tie event where you’ll find tuxedos and ball gowns. Unlike on a Royal Caribbean cruise where the dress code is not strictly enforced, you’ll find most guests adhering to dress codes on the Queen Mary 2.

You’re also expected to adhere to dress codes around the ship on Gala Evenings. It’s not recommended to attend theater shows and parties in casual wear on formal nights.

If the idea of dressing formally every night doesn’t sound appealing, you’re always able to dine at the buffet, just like on Royal Caribbean.

Food & drink

The Queen Mary 2, like Royal Caribbean cruise ships, comes with many different dining options. One aspect of dining that stands out is that there are four separate dining rooms on the Queen Mary 2, each of which serves a different clientele.

The Queens Grill, Princess Grill, and Britannia Club restaurants serve passengers staying in Queens Grill Suites, Princess Grill Suites, and Britannia Club Balcony staterooms respectively.

All other guests dine at the Britannia Restaurant, the Main Dining Room onboard the Queen Mary 2.

On Royal Caribbean ships, suite guests on Oasis and Quantum Class ships can dine at Coastal Kitchen, but the Queen Mary 2 takes this a step further with her four dining rooms.

Both Royal Caribbean ships and the Queen Mary 2 have a steakhouse which comes at an extra cost and there is also an informal buffet on all ships.

The Queen Mary 2 also has an English-style pub that serves fare like beer battered cod, burgers, and savory pies.

Afternoon tea

Something you’ll find on the Queen Mary 2 but not on Royal Caribbean ships is afternoon tea, which is included in the Cunard cruise fare.

From 3:30PM to 4:30PM daily, afternoon tea is offered on the Queen Mary 2. The menu changes daily, but passengers can expect to find a variety of scones, sandwiches, and patisserie. A harpist or pianist provides music during tea.

Pets travel in luxury

Have you ever wished you could travel with your four-legged friends onboard a cruise? Something that makes the Queen Mary 2 even more unique is the kennel found onboard.

Available on transatlantic crossings is the ability to board your dog or cat in the ship’s kennel, where pets are cared for 24 hours a day during the length of the sailing by the Kennel Master and assistant.

There are 24 kennels on the Queen Mary 2, an owner’s lounge, and outdoor deck space to play. British dogs will enjoy the ship’s lamppost from the Cunard building in Liverpool whereas American dogs will find familiarity with a New York City fire hydrant!

Only service dogs are permitted on Royal Caribbean ships.


One of the most obvious differences between a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and the Queen Mary 2 are the itineraries.

Most Queen Mary 2 itineraries include a transatlantic crossing between Southampton, England, and New York. However, she offers itineraries around the world, from Europe to Asia and beyond.

You may also find itineraries visiting the Caribbean. Departing from New York, these voyages visit ports including St. Maarten, Martinique, and Barbados.

You can also find cruises on the Queen Mary 2 to various ports of call in Europe. These sailings depart from Southampton and visit ports in the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Germany, and France.

In 2024, the Queen Mary 2 will sail a 108-night Full World Voyage sailing roundtrip from Southampton and visiting ports in South Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. Passengers can book the full voyage or individual segments of the cruise.

Enjoyed this article? Discover more about the history of ships:

Royal Caribbean announces plan to build first carbon-neutral cruise ship

14 Dec 2022

Royal Caribbean took a major stride toward sustainable cruising with its latest announcement.

Ship sailing

In conjunction with the Finnish government, Royal Caribbean Group signed a deal with the Meyer Turku shipyard on Wednesday that commits a plan for the production of climate-neutral ships in Finland. 

Both the cruise giant and Finland want to establish a roadmap for a maritime industry green transition as a way forward for innovative and sustainable shipbuilding in Finland. 

The declaration was signed with the Finnish government, represented by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (MEAE) and Meyer Turku Oy.

Royal Caribbean Group Announces Strategic Agreement with Meyer Turku Oy, Finnish Government

Today's announcement also secures the partnership Royal Caribbean Group already has with the Finnish government.

There are six tenants to today's deal:

  • Preparing a roadmap for the production of climate-neutral ships in Finland. The roadmap is part of the maritime industry's green transition.
  • Strengthening the innovation of Meyer Turku, Royal Caribbean Group and the maritime industry.
  • Supporting networking to curb economic challenges, develop new solutions and secure the long-term viability of the maritime industry.
  • Assembling a digital demonstration of a climate-neutral ship as part of the sustainable maritime industry development program of the Ministry of Labor and Economy.
  • Strengthening the innovation of Meyer Turku, Royal Caribbean Group and the maritime industry.
  • Piloting and testing new innovations and technologies on Royal Caribbean Group ships.

"Our partners in Finland have helped us deliver some of the world's most impressive and sustainable ships of their time, including our newest ship debuting in January 2024, Icon of the Seas," said Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group.

"This new partnership sets the stage for future innovations and allows us and the maritime industry to continue pursuing sustainability at the highest level."

This is yet another step by the Royal Caribbean Group to get to net zero emissions by 2050.

Known as its Destination Net Zero strategy, the company has plans to decarbonize its operations by 2050.

It also aims to reduce carbon intensity by double digits by 2025 compared to 2019 and the introduction of a net-zero cruise ship by 2035. 

What does carbon neutral mean?

Carbon neutral means having a net zero carbon footprint, meaning that the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is balanced by the amount removed.

This can be achieved through various methods, such as offsetting emissions through carbon credits or investing in renewable energy sources.

Essentially, it means that an individual, organization, or event has no net impact on the environment in terms of carbon emissions.

As part of Destination Net Zero, Royal Caribbean Group's approach includes:

  1. Modernization of the cruise company's global brands fleet through the introduction of 13 new energy-efficient and alternatively fueled vessels.
  2. Continued investment in energy efficiency programs for its fleet, including energy saving technologies, enhanced data systems and digitalization.
  3. Development of alternative fuel and alternative power solutions.
  4. Optimized deployment and integration of strategic shore-based supply chains.

5 real-life places that inspired Royal Caribbean cruise ship design

06 Dec 2022

Royal Caribbean's cruise ships travel the world, and some of the most well-known features found on these vessels were inspired by those same places.

Quantum of the Seas near New York

Cruise ship design will come from many sources, as the industry relies on its own research and trends from the hospitality industry. 

Over the years, Royal Caribbean has introduced new activities and things to do on its ships that came directly from places in the world.

Royal Caribbean's new drink menu

When Royal Caribbean restarted cruises in 2021, it revamped its fleetwide drink menu to pay homage to the Caribbean islands the line has relied on for decades.

The new menu is inspired by some of the signature Caribbean islands Royal Caribbean has traditionally visited, and as a way of honoring these destinations, a popular drink recipe was highlighted from each spot.

Linken D'​Souza, Global Vice President Culinary, Dining & Beverage, thinks these featured drinks not only provide a tasty cocktail, but a tip of the hat to these places, "It's like bringing a port of call to your experience onboard the ship. And maybe you have the cocktail on board and you get off from the island and you say, hey, I got to get one of those here to see how close they are."

Some of the new signature cocktails that Royal Caribbean highlighted include:

  • Goombay Smash (Bahamas)
  • Planter's Punch (Jamaica)
  • Papa Jac (Puerto Rico)
  • The Painkiller (British Virgin Islands)
  • Dark 'n Stormy (Bermuda)
  • Rum Puinch (Barbados)

The new drink menus are available on all the cruise ships in the fleet.

North Star

The observation pod on Royal Caribbean's Quantum Class ships is an idea born out of a well-known tourist attraction.

North Star is a 300-foot observational pod that provides guests 360-degress views of everything around them.

London Eye pod

The idea for North Star was inspired by the London Eye, but instead of placing it on a Ferris wheel, there is just one pod and it is attached to a giant robotic arm.

Royal Caribbean chairman and CEO Richard Fain said in an interview, "Quite frankly, the success of the London Eye had a lot to do with this."

The North Star pod is smaller than the the London Eye pods, but the goal is the same: provide great views. The concept of North Star is for cruise ship passengers to see the ship, the sea and the ports in perspective.


The Boardwalk neighborhood on Oasis Class ships is a fan-favorite area of the ship because of the pleasing aesthetics, fun activities and great views of the sea.

The Boardwalk neighborhood was inspired by both the seaside piers that dot the coast of England and the nostalgic boardwalks of yesteryear such as Coney Island.

Coney Island boardwlak

The focal point of the Boardwalk is the traditional, hand crafted carousel, which would be common on many boardwalks.

There are also hot dog stands, ice cream, and even a candy shop called, "Candy Beach" (get it?).

Portside BBQ

Have you tried Portside BBQ restaurant on Oasis of the Seas yet?

Royal Caribbean's first foray into barbecue food was planned to mirror the best options in the real world they could find, and that took the company to Texas.

Mr. D'Souza rented a minivan and tested 14 to 15 BBQ restaurants in Austin, Texas, before creating the BBQ offering on board the Oasis of the Seas.

In fact, after sampling barbecue around Texas, they tested the best choices back at Royal Caribbean's headquarters in the company parking lot for staff to get a sense of which performed best.

Viking Crown Lounge

The Viking Crown Lounge has long been one of the most iconic features of Royal Caribbean cruise ships, especially the early vessels.

Read moreWhat happened to Royal Caribbean's first cruise ships?

The Viking Crown Lounge was a feature first conjured up by the founder of Royal Caribbean, Edwin Stephan.

This area of the ship is known for its dramatic ocean views, perched as it is atop the one of the highest decks on the entire ship.

Mr. Stephan was inspired by the Seattle Space Needle and came up with the idea for the Viking Crown Lounge so that its ships could have a striking visual profile that stood out from competitors.

Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the Space Needle platform and restaurant was designed to evoke a flying saucer.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - Will I be bored on a smaller ship?

27 Oct 2022

Listen to the Show

You've done the big ships, but is going on a smaller Royal Caribbean ship a mistake? Here's what you should know about sailing on the not-so-giant ships.

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

On this episode:
Running time:
Subscribe to Ships