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All about Royal Caribbean's ship classes

In:
28 Apr 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.

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

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.

In 2019, Spectrum of the Seas will launch, becoming the first Quantum Ultra Class ship. The revolutionary Quantum Ultra ship will specifically be designed for guests in China and the Asia-Pacific region, and will feature cutting-edge and unprecedented experiences and amenities.

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, with another round of updates beginning in 2018 and going through 2019.

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.

The first two Icon Class ships will debut in 2022 and 2024.

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.

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.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - What is the worst cruise ship?

In:
19 May 2021

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Many first time cruisers are eager to learn about the best Royal Caribbean ship to sail on, so a common question asked is which cruise ships should be avoided.

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On this episode:
Running time:

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - What is a dry dock?

In:
12 May 2021

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You may have heard about cruise ships going into dry dock, but what happens when a ship goes in for work?

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Where are Royal Caribbean's cruise ships right now? April 2021

In:
28 Apr 2021

While there are not going to be any Royal Caribbean cruise ships operating outside of Singapore, you might be wondering where the rest of the cruise ships are located.

Royal Caribbean's cruise ships are in a state of warm layup around the world in strategically located areas to be near resupply ports.

This allows the ships to easily get into port to offload waste, bring on new supplies, and sometimes exchange out the skeleton crew working onboard.

During this period of no cruises, the ships primarily stay in place, but a few have changed locations from time to time.

This information was gathered, and accurate, as of April 27, 2021.

CocoCay

  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas

St. Maarten

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

Barbados

  • Serenade of the Seas

Southampton, England

  • Jewel of the Seas

Gibraltar

  • Anthem of the Seas

Cadiz, Spain

  • Harmony of the Seas (in dry dock)

Limassol, Cyprus

  • Odyssey of the Seas

Singapore

  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Radiance of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Voyager of the Seas
  • Spectrum of the Seas

What are cruise ships doing while there aren't any cruises?

Quantum of the Seas is the only Royal Caribbean cruise ship operating right now, but the rest of the fleet is being manned by a skeleton crew while they wait to restart sailings.

This is referred to as "warm lay up", and it means the ship is operational and ready to quickly resume cruises again once they are given the go-ahead to do so.

By keeping the ships in warm lay up instead of cold lay up, they can more quickly get back into service when the time is right.  The downside to warm lay up is it costs Royal Caribbean more money to keep the ships operating in this state.

Read moreWhat does it mean when a cruise ship goes into cold lay-up?

During the cruise industry shutdown, most ships remain in place unless there is a compelling need to move, such as a dry dock.

If you track cruise ships on the internet, you might see one ship occasionally come into port to receive new supplies and unload waste. In the United States, PortMiami has been the most commonly used destination for ships nearby to resupply.

When will Royal Caribbean ships sail again?

Currently, only Quantum of the Seas is the only ship sailing, but more ships are preparing to restart operations.

Five ships will restart sailings this summer from outside the United States in June and July 2021.

  • Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas in June 2021
  • Vision of the Seas from Bermuda in June 2021
  • Odyssey of the Seas from Haifa, Israel in June 2021
  • Anthem of the Seas from Southampton, England in July 2021
  • Jewel of the Seas from sail Limassol, Cyprus in July 2021

The rest of the fleet is shutdown through the end of June 2021, although more cancellations are likely.

Royal Caribbean is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to receive permission to start cruises again.

During Royal Caribbean Group's fourth quarter 2020 earnings call with investors, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley reported Royal Caribbean has been in "regular communication" with the CDC and expects to get technical instructions on what each ship needs to do in order to prepare itself for test cruises.

Test cruises will be the opportunity for cruise lines to demonstrate they can operate in a safe manner through a variety of new protocols.

The reality is no one really know when exactly cruises will start, and that means Royal Caribbean's ships will remain idle around the world until the company is ready to start operations up.

When they do start cruising again, do not expect all 26 ships to resume sailings immediately. Royal Caribbean has said repeatedly it expects to start with a few ships that can sail to its private destinations first, and then expand operations from there.

Royal Caribbean Group CFO Jason Liberty noted the company could add a second ship outside of the U.S. soon, "We are already operating Quantum of the Seas in Singapore, and our second ship in the water could also be outside of the US."

The best expectation is for a handful of ships beginning at first, with a phased approach to bringing the entire fleet back.

What’s the difference between a large and small cruise ship?

In:
05 Mar 2021

Cruise ships come in many sizes, so how do you know which size is right for you? And is there such thing as "too big"?

You can go on cruise ships with as few as a few dozen people, and as many people as 6,000. Ship size reflects a cruise line's plans for the number of activities offered onboard, types of staterooms to offer, and the economics of the market the ship is intended for.

With Royal Caribbean, you will find a great deal of variation between ship sizes that caters to different tastes and offerings.

If you are trying to figure out whether or not a big ship or a small ship is right for you, here are the important considerations.

What makes a ship big or small?

If you stand next to almost any cruise ship, they all look big, so what makes one truly a big ship or a small ship?

The answer is relative, as cruise ship designs and sizes have changed over the years.  Measuring cruise ship size is less an exercise in arithmetic, and more a consideration of how it stacks up to other vessels.

For the sake of argument, here is a breakdown of Royal Caribbean cruise ship classes to get a sense of how they stack up.

Small ships

  • Vision Class
  • Radiance Class

Medium ships

  • Voyager Class

Big ships

  • Freedom Class
  • Quantum Class
  • Oasis Class

Read moreBest Royal Caribbean ships and cruise guide

The bigger the ship, the more to do onboard

Generally speaking, the larger the ship, the more space the cruise line has to add things to do while you are onboard.

Space is always at a premium on a cruise ship, so if a ship is bigger, it has more room to offer more activities.

Royal Caribbean has always separated itself from other cruise lines by offering incredible new activities onboard, such as rock climbing walls, a zip line, Central Park, Flowrider surf simulator and much more.  In order to have these kind of activities, you need a bigger ship.

If you sail on some of the smaller ships in the fleet, you will not have nearly as many whiz-bang amenities on your ship. For some guests, this matters more than for others.

Read more15 really cool things to do that you can only find on Royal Caribbean cruise ships

Dining

These days, the amount of choices you have of where to dine on your cruise ship matters a lot more than a decade ago or longer.

Every ship has a main dining room, Windjammer buffet, and at least a few specialty restaurants.

Just like activities, big ships offer more specialty restaurant choices. 

It may not seem like diversity of restaurants matters that much, but some cruisers prefer to have more choice in where they dine. Others love the main dining room and that works too.

Of course, specialty dining costs extra and while it is nice to mix up your dinner setting, it will mean a higher vacation cost to do so. Investing in a specialty restaurant package is a good workaround to mitigate the extra costs.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean specialty dining packages guide

The latest and greatest go on big ships

When you watch a television commercial for a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, almost everything you see in that advertisement is on a new and big ship.

Nothing captivates the attention of the public like a big new ship, and the bigger the ship is, the more attention it gets.

New cruisers often are enamored with the appeal of experiencing all the amazing things cruise ships have to offer, and the absolute best of it goes to new ships.

Part of the reason is the ships have the space for it, and part of it is being newer, engineers incorporated these concepts in the design. It is much easier to offer Flowriders, water slides, and expansive entertainment venues when you build it into the design of the ship.

Read moreWhat is the worst Royal Caribbean ship?

Where the ship goes matters

No matter which ship you sail on, you will be going somewhere to visit different cities, islands, or scenic landscapes. There is no denying that smaller ships can fit into far more ports than big ships.

Cruise ships have been around for decades, and many cruise ports were designed for cruise ships of a different era. Basically, cruise ship size has outpaced cruise port accommodations.

Certainly many ports have upgraded their facilities to be able to handle bigger ships (especially in the Caribbean), but if you have your heart set on seeing some of the most beautiful and breathtaking places on a cruise ship, a smaller ship will get you there.

A great example is Alaska, where Radiance Class ships can visit more glaciers and far flung ports than the big ships can. Cruisers who have been to Alaska will always recommend a small ship to see Alaska "the right way".

The same argument for small ships can be made for many ports in Europe, including the Eastern Mediterranean, Baltics, and Scandinavia.

Read moreHow to choose the right Alaska cruise itinerary

Price

It always seems to come down to cost, right?

Generally speaking, a smaller Royal Caribbean cruise ship will probably cost you less than a bigger one because smaller ships tend to be older.

Royal Caribbean puts a premium price tag on its newest ships, and since its newest ships are big ships, you will find lower prices with the smaller vessels.

While prices will vary from sailing to sailing, some of the best values can be found with smaller cruise ships. This means being able to afford a bigger cabin on a Radiance or Voyager class ship than a similar sailing on an Oasis Class ship.

However, do not book a cruise purely on price.  One big mistake a lot of first time cruisers do is chase the lowest price and ignore what the ship does and does not offer, leaving disappointment when they get onboard and realize there are no water slides or sushi restaurant.

Read moreHow to get cheap cruise deals

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