Royal Caribbean Ultimate Guide: Ships, Itineraries, and More

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Royal Caribbean is one of the most popular cruise lines in the world.

And for a good reason.

The cruise line emphasizes the “WOW factor” with some of the largest and most innovative cruise ships at sea. Their ships offer a wide range of activities, including surf simulators, zip lining, bumper cars, rock climbing, and more.

amplified Navigator of the Seas at royal Caribbean private island
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International)

Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned sailor, there’s no question that Royal Caribbean offers some of the best experiences out there. 

This ultimate guide will give you what you need to know about Royal Caribbean cruises. From tips on where to sail to what ships offer the best amenities, we’ve got you covered.

So read on and start planning your dream cruise today!

What We Love

  • It’s impossible to get bored with an incredible variety of onboard activities.
  • The top-tier entertainment, including Broadway shows and AquaTheater performances.
  • One of the best children’s programs at sea

What Could Improve

  • Prices always vary, making it difficult to properly budget.
  • Some of the bigger ships feel crowded, especially on sea days.

Who Sails Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean is a mass-market cruise line with a broad appeal. The cruise line offers a wide variety of activities, dining, and entertainment options with something for everyone to enjoy.

Their ships are ideal for first-time cruisers, couples, families, thrill-seekers, and large groups.

The upper deck with swimming pools at cruise liner or ship Oasis of the Seas by Royal Caribbean docked in Cape Canaveral, USA

The innovative cruise line consistently delivers an energetic, high-thrills experience, particularly for families.

Royal Caribbean has made a name for itself with its impressive family offerings. From the signature FlowRider and skydiving simulator to the zip lines and waterslides, there’s more than enough to keep kids and teens entertained for a week at sea.

But, perhaps the most underrated offering is the Royal Babies and Tots nursery. The program is provided on select ships and provides a play space for kids aged 6 to 36 months. Royal Caribbean is one of the few cruise lines with dedicated services for babies and toddlers, ideal for parents with young kids.

The Royal Promenade, aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

But, Royal Caribbean appeals to more than just families.

The line’s ships offer something for everyone and appeal to nearly every demographic, with a diverse selection of food, activities, and entertainment.

I guarantee you won’t be bored when you sail with Royal Caribbean.

There’s so much to do on a Royal Caribbean cruise that your biggest problem will be trying to fit everything in during a single vacation.

All that said, Royal Caribbean does provide serene spots to enjoy quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of the pool deck. If you prefer a low-key vacation, you can spend the day reading a book under a tree in Central Park or relaxing by the pool at the adults-only Solarium.

For the most part, Royal Caribbean’s ships are so well designed that you won’t feel crowded despite sharing a boat with 6,000 passengers.

Exterior photo of Wonder of the Seas
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International)

Passengers who sail with Royal also come from a wide range of incomes. You’ll find many affordable cabins, casual bars, and complimentary dining options. The affordable cruise fares and expansive offerings give Royal Caribbean its mass-market appeal and provide affordable cruise vacations to travelers on a budget.

In fact, you can go on an entire cruise without spending much more than the base fare and not feel like you’re missing out. 

But on every ship, you’ll also find ultra-luxury suites, specialty dining, and fabulous services that attract luxury vacationers.

Bottom line: Royal Caribbean cruisers share a common love for big, high-thrill, city-at-sea experiences.

Royal Caribbean Fleet

Anthem of the Seas sailing in open ocean with the Nort Star Raised
Photo Credit (Royal Caribbean)

For the most part, Royal Caribbean offers mega-ships that appeal to a wide demographic looking for a megaresort experience. The company has built its brand around providing something for everyone.

Overall, their vessels are lively and fun, with non-stop entertainment from morning to late at night.

Royal Caribbean’s ships are best known for emphasizing the “wow” factor. The brand has a long history of innovation and several firsts for the cruise industry. Think sky diving simulators, FlowRider surf simulators, rock climbing at sea, real ice skating rinks, Vegas-style aqua shows, a 300-foot observation pod, and more.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas Aerial View

Even if you’re new to cruising, you’ve no doubt heard of Royal Caribbean’s record-breaking Oasis-class ships. The Oasis-class comprises the five largest cruise ships in the world, with accommodations for over 6,600 passengers.

After the Oasis-class ships, Royal Caribbean operates five Quantum-class vessels, three Freedom-class ships, and five somewhat large, Voyager-class cruise ships. These classes make up Royal’s big-ship fleet.

Not all Royal Caribbean vessels are supersized. The cruise line has a fleet of 26 cruise ships that range from smaller, more intimate vessels to the floating mega-cities you hear about when people talk about floating mega resorts.

Radiance of the Seas in Alaska with Glacier in the background
(Photo credit: Royal Caribbean International)

On the smaller side are Royal’s Radiance and Vision-class ships. They don’t have the same number of amenities as the larger ships, instead providing more relaxed, intimate sailings. They are usually cheaper, which is a bonus for budget cruisers.

The smaller cruise ships can visit less-traveled destinations, including Alaska, Northern Europe, and the upper East Coast. Not every cruise port is equipped to handle the 236,857 GT Wonder of the Seas.

The cruise line is constantly adding new vessels while retiring older ships from its service to keep its fleet fresh and exciting.

And through the Royal Amplified project, even the older ships boast similar features to the latest vessels

Ranked from largest to smallest, Royal Caribbean offers six classes of ships:

  • Icon Class: Icon of the Seas (debuting in 2024)
  • Oasis Class: Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas
  • Quantum Class: Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas
  • Freedom Class: Liberty of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, and Freedom of the Seas
  • Voyager Class: Explorer of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, and Mariner of the Seas
  • Radiance Class: Brilliance of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, and Jewel of the Seas
  • Vision Class: Grandeur of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, and Vision of the Seas

Destinations and Itineraies

Ovation of the seas in alaska with North Star raised and glacier in the background
Photo Credit (Royal Caribbean)

Royal Caribbean sails all over the world. But, their biggest presence is in the Caribbean, Europe, and Alaska.

During the Summer, you’ll find around half of the fleet sailing in the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda. Another six or seven offer European sailings, while a handful sail in Alaska.

During the winter, the cruise line sends even more ships to the Caribbean. Other ships are redeployed to Asia and Australia.

Recently, Royal Caribbean has been deploying new ships for sailings aimed at Chinese travelers. These guests typically sail out of Shanghai and Tianjin, China.

Royal Caribbean joins other cruise lines looking to dominate the Chinese market. Enthusiasm for cruising has skyrocketed in the country, with future passenger volume expected to be seven times greater than in the US.

North Star observatory rising on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas as it sails in the ocean
(Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean)

For its part, Royal Caribbean has remodeled several ships, including Quantum of the Seas. The vessel was less than a year old when the retro burger joint Johnny Rockets was swapped for a noodle restaurant. During the same renovation, the duty-free shop was replaced with a luxury leather boutique – changes meant to capture the surging demand for cruise ship travel in China.

In North America, it’s no surprise that the tropical Caribbean and Bahamas are the most popular destinations. Many tropical itineraries stop at the cruise line’s private island in the Bahamas, CocoCay.

Like other mainstream cruise lines, Royal offers a wide range of itineraries, from short three and four-day sailings to week-long voyages.

Longer itineraries of ten or more days are often reserved for repositioning cruises, such as when a ship is moved from the Caribbean to Alaska.

Cabins and Suites

Wonder of the Seas Royal Loft Suite
The Royal Loft Suite on Wonder of the Seas (Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

Royal Caribbean offers a wide range of cabin accommodations. On the largest vessels, it’s possible to find well over 30 different cabin categories.

You’ll find low-cost interior cabins measuring less than 150 square feet to massive multi-room, two-story suites of over 1,500 square feet.

Ultimate Panoramic suite on the Amplified Oasis of the Seas
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

At the high end, the accommodations border on those found on luxury cruise ships with in-stateroom grand pianos, two-story accommodations, and sweeping ocean views.

Some suites come with added perks that may include private butler service. The “Royal Genies,” as their called, will attend to your every need. Other perks include:

  • A private restaurant.
  • Private suite lounge.
  • Reserved seating at entertainment venues.
  • Priority boarding and disembarkation.

On large ships, it’s common that the largest number of stateroom categories are interior cabins. As the name suggests, these accommodations are located inside the vessel and don’t provide any natural sunlight. Newer Royal Caribbean vessels feature virtual balconies, adding luxury to the otherwise dreary cabins.

Anthem of the Seas Cabin with Virtual Balony
A virtual balcony on Anthem of the Seas (Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

The virtual portholes and balconies are just floor-to-ceiling displays that show real-time views of the ship’s surroundings. And, despite sounding like a tacky gimmick, the trick works surprisingly well. As a money-conscious traveler, it’s my first choice if the ship offers a virtual balcony.

Ocean View staterom on Anthem of the Seas
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

If we have one complaint, it’s the tiny bathrooms and showers. Although we don’t expect to find the same bathroom accommodations that we have back home, the ones on Royal Caribbean’s cheaper cabins are unreasonably small. 

But, if that’s our only complaint, then we are pretty satisfied with the accommodations provided.

Restaurants and Dining

Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class Main Dining Room

Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships have an impressive offering of restaurants and dining experiences. The Oasis-class vessels have more than 20 places to eat, ranging from the casual Johnny. 

Complimentary Dining

Royal Caribbean main dining room on Spectrum of the Seas
The main dining room on Spectrum of the Seas (Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

You’ll find a main dining room and casual buffet on every ship in the fleet.

You can choose between Traditional Dining and My Time Dining for dinner in the main dining room. With Traditional Dining, you’ll receive a set dining table and time. My Time Dining provides greater flexibility with no set dining time. However, you may find yourself waiting for a seat without a fixed table.

The dinner menu is a two-part menu. The first part is nightly specials which rotate throughout the week. Foods on this menu may include lobster, prime rib, garlic tiger shrimp, and cordon bleu chicken, among other options.

Insider Tip: The main dining room is open for breakfast with made-to-order meals and smaller crowds. It provides an excellent alternative to the buffet but with fewer food options.

Main dining room on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

We’ve done both My Time Dining and Traditional timing, and both have their pros and cons. We love the flexibility My Time Dining Provides, but sometimes we prefer to sit and eat without the wait.

Most nights in the main dining room are fairly casual. The casual dress code doesn’t allow for shorts or swimwear, but jeans, t-shirts, blouses, and collared shirts are acceptable.

On every cruise, there is always at least one formal night. And, 7-night cruises have two formal nights. You’ll be expected to dress up in formal attire on these nights. According to the cruise line’s website, the formal dress code consists of “suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses or evening gowns.”

If you’d prefer to skip the formal dinner, you’ll be happy to know it’s not mandatory. However, if you want to dine in casual attire on a formal night, you’ll have to eat in the buffet.

Royal Caribbean's Windjammer Cafe

The buffet on Royal Caribbean ships is the popular Windjammer Cafe (or Windjammer Marketplace on newer vessels). Though most passengers choose the main dining room for dinners, Windjammer is a popular spot for breakfast and lunch. 

The Windjammer offers a wide variety of staple foods like hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and fries to cultural dishes, salads, and more.

Breakfast at the Windjammer includes pancakes, french toast, waffles, yogurt, fruit, baked goods, and omelets.

The dress code in the Windjammer is always casual. The only real restriction is that you must have footwear, and bathing attire is not permitted.

Royal Caribbean's Sorrento's Pizza

Two other popular sports are Cafe Promenade and Sorrento’s Pizza. Both restaurants are included with your cruise fare and are excellent spots to grab a quick bite to eat.

Cafe Promenade provides a traditional coffee shop selection with small snacks, coffee, small sandwiches, and desserts.

Sorrento’s Pizza is one of our favorite restaurants on Royal Caribbean ships. The restaurant serves authentic New York-style pizza. The topping selection changes throughout the cruise, but you’ll always find classics like cheese, pepperoni, and Margherita. If you’re feeling adventurous, you might want to try a fancy creation, such as the BBQ-infused Caribbean Dream.

The number of restaurants varies by ship, but other complimentary eateries include:

  • Dog House (Hot Dogs)
  • El Loco Fresh (Mexican Food)
  • Park Cafe (Sandwiches)
  • Solarium Bistro (Healthy Snacks)

Specialty Restaurants

Sorrentos on Harmony of the Seas
(Rendering Courtesy: Royal Caribbean)

If you consider yourself a foodie, you might want to try one of Royal Caribbean’s specialty restaurants. The specialty restaurants provide an upscale atmosphere and savory meals for an extra fee.

Some specialty restaurants charge a flat fee, usually around $35 to $50, while others are a la carte.

For-a-fee specialty dining is a now common trend among mainstream cruise lines.

Chops Grille on Harmony of the Seas 1

Every Royal Caribbean cruise ship has at least a handful of specialty dining options. The lineup of restaurants varies by ship, but you’ll usually find favorites such as the Chops Grille steakhouse, Giovanni’s Table, Johnny Rockets, and Izumi’s.

Many Royal Caribbean cruise ships even boast full-scale Starbucks cafes!

Chefs Table exclusive specialty restaraunt on Quantum of the Seas

At the top end is Chef’s Table – an exclusive dining experience where a small number of guests receive a multi-course meal prepared by the executive chef. The chef explains each dish and provides accompanying wine selections.

And for dessert, our favorite stops are Boardwalk Donuts or Ben and Jerry’s.

Bars & Lounges

Royal-Caribbeans-Playmakers-Bar-Arcade

Royal Caribbean offers plenty of bars and lounges to grab a drink or catch up with friends.

The bars range from the quiet Boleros to buzzing poolside bars offering all kinds of tropical mixes.

Royal Caribbean's Bionic Bar
Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbeans ships offer a wide selection of bars. Here are some of our favorites:

  • One of the most stops is the Schooner Bar. In addition to the nautical theme and live piano music, this bar hosts regular live game shows, bingo, and trivia contests. When there aren’t any events, it’s a great place to stop and unwind after a busy day.
  • The On-Air Karaoke Bar isn’t for everyone, but it’s a fantastic way to spend the night. Whether or not you have the courage to go up on stage, it’s a lot of fun watching others sing and dance the night away.
  • Vintages Wine Bar is the go-to spot for wine connoisseurs. Whether your wine of choice is malbec, merlot, riesling, or pinot grigio, Vintages offers a wide selection of wines from around the world, with some exclusives not found anywhere else.
  • The Bionic Bar is a bit of a gimmick, but we can’t help but laugh watching two robotic bartenders mix and shake our drinks to perfection. After ordering on the tablet, the two robotic arms work to mix beverages using the bottles suspended from the ceiling. And a crew member is always on standby to clean up after the occasional spill.
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Grill is the perfect spot to catch a game and meet other sports fans. If you’re sailing during football season, you can expect to find a rowdy atmosphere as sports fans across the boat meet to cheer on their team. And, in true sports bar style, the menu consists of drinks, nachos, and wings.
  • A fan favorite is the Viking Crown Lounge. The lounge provides an excellent view of the horizon from the uppermost decks of the cruise ship. The lounge’s location is out of the path for most guests, making it one of the least crowded bars on the vessel. If you’ve booked a scenic voyage (such as Alaska), this hidden spot provides the best view of the world around you.  

Onboard Activities

North Star observatory rising on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas as it sails in the ocean
(Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean)

The onboard activities are where Royal Caribbean thrives. No one does adrenaline-rushing activities better than Royal Caribbean.

With some of the largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean’s fleet has a lot to offer. The cruise line goes above and beyond, pushing the boundaries of innovation and continually making headlines with unique new attractions.

Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas aerial view from the side
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International)

The newest cruise ships are the most advance with iFly sky diving simulators, The North Star observation pod, bumper cars, FlowRider surf simulators, and more.

Though the selection of onboard activities varies by ship, every vessel has something to offer.

Below are just a tiny selection of onboard activities offered by Royal Caribbean:

Pools and the Solarium

Passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas relaxing on the pool deck during a day at sea

No cruise ship is complete without a pool. When you dream of your perfect cruise vacation, you no doubt think of lounging by the pool and sipping cold cocktails.

Every cruise ship class has indoor and outdoor pools, with several Whirlpools around the edges. The largest ships have several pools scattered around the boat for you to enjoy.

The pools on Royal Caribbean ships are smaller than the ones you’d find at a traditional resort. That’s because the weight of the water on the upper decks can raise the ship’s center of gravity. Therefore, pools are kept relatively smaller to minimize the impact on ship stability.

Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas Pool Decks
Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

If you’re used to swimming in freshwater, you might be surprised that most cruise ships have saltwater pools. You will find a mix of freshwater and saltwater pools on the newer cruise ships.

The pool decks are unsurprisingly busy during the day. Kids and families flock to the pool to soak up the sun and enjoy the warm Caribbean weather.

Royal Caribbean Solarium
Photo Credit (Royal Caribbean)

If sharing a pool with noisy kids isn’t your idea of relaxation, you’ll be happy to know Royal Caribbean ships have a separate adult-only pool.

The Solarium is available on every class of ships and provides a quiet, adults-only pool deck complete with Whirlpools. One nice feature of the Solarium is the glass roof, which keeps the pool deck warm, even on colder sailings.

Flowrider

Quantum of the Seas FlowRider
Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International

The Flowrider has become a staple activity on Royal Caribbean ships. The wave-shaped machine spits out a thin layer of water over a smooth pad, allowing you to boogie board or surf from the top of a cruise ship.

On my first cruise as a 10-year-old, I spent nearly all day, every day, riding the artificial waves on the Flowrider.

It takes some practice, but before long, anyone can boogieboard.

Splashaway Bay

Kids aqua park Splashaway Bay on Wonder of the Seas welcomes the youngest of travelers to play poolside with waterslides, fountains, water cannons, a drench bucket and more.
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International)

Splashaway Bay is an aquapark located on the pool deck. It’s ideal for kids and tweens with waterslides, fountains, and a massive tipping bucket.

There are often one or two larger slides for kids aged six and up and a separate smaller slide for toddlers. A separate “splash zone” features ankle-high water, water cannons, fountains, and a drench bucket.

There’s also a separate area for toddlers that aren’t yet potty-trained so that kids of all ages can enjoy the water park.

The North Star

Odyssey of the Seas Aerial View

The North Star is the signature feature on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class cruise ships.

The observation pod is part Ferris wheel and part gondola ride. It consists of a glass-enclosed pod that rises 300 feet above sea level, providing uninhibited views of the horizon. 

The pod accommodates up to 14 passengers and one operator for 15 to 20-minute rides.

While The North Star is an incredible experience on any sailing, we particularly love taking a ride during Alaskan voyages. 

Take it from us; there’s no better way to admire the scenic Alaskan landscape than from 300 feet above the water.

The price for The North Star is usually free, though we have heard that some sailings charge a fee. And you can make reservations in advance to secure your spot.

Ripcord by iFly

Another popular activity on Quantum-class vessels is the Ripcord by iFly skydiving simulator. The 23-foot-tall glass chamber provides the feeling of sky diving without having to jump out of a plane.

Fitness Center

Fitness Center on Royal Caribbeans Quantum of the seas

Cruise ships are meant for indulging at the buffet, enjoying a poolside drink, and topping up on frozen yogurt.

But, if you’ll looking to continue your fitness routine or try a new fitness class, Royal Caribbean has a lot to offer.

The gyms offered on Royal Caribbean vessels are surprisingly complete. You’ll usually find weight machines, free weights, cable machines, cardio equipment, and yoga mats. The largest cruise ships even offer smith machines and barbells. It’s safe to say you can get a pretty awesome workout at sea.

The cruise line also offers plenty of group fitness classes, from yoga to Zumba and cycling to Pilates. Best of all, most of the fitness classes are entirely free.

There’s also a running track, usually located on the top deck. However, you will be sharing the track with other passengers, so it’s best to go in the early mornings when the deck is less busy.

Zip Lines

Woman riding the zipline on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas
Photo Credit (Royal Caribbean)

With all the incredible activities offered on Royal Caribbean vessels, it’s no surprise that you can find zip lines on the Oasis-class.

The zip lines are located ten stories above the boardwalk, on deck 16. Zip lining isn’t for everyone. But, if you’ve got a sense of adventure, it’s definitely worth a try.

The SeaPlex

Passengers taking part in bumper cars in the SeaPlex on royal Caribbean's quantum of the seas
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

The SeaPlex is the largest indoor sports space at sea and can be found on Royal’s Quantum-class ships.

SeaPlex is home to various activities, including basketball, ping pong, rollerskating, and even bumper cars.

The complex is located on the sports deck in a multi-use indoor space. So, no matter the weather, there are always events happening. We highly recommend taking part in the bumper cars on the first day – before you’re competing in lineups with several thousand passengers.

Ice Skating Rinks

Royal Caribbean Ice Skating
Photo Credit (Royal Caribbean)

Yes, you read that right.

Several Royal Caribbean vessels have skating rinks with real ice. The rinks are located on the ship’s interior, with stadium seating for several hundred passengers.

During the day, guests can take part in fun skates and enjoy an ice show performed by world-class professional skaters at night.

Shopping

Couple shopping on royal caribbean cruise ship

Whether you’re looking for new jewelry, a designer handbag, or duty-free bottles of alcohol, every ship has plenty of spots to shop.

For convenience, most stores are located on the same deck, in a dedicated shopping area, or on the promenade.

Of course, cruise ships offer plenty of souvenir t-shirts, mugs, keychains, model ships, and hats. But, they also have many duty-free items like high-end jewelry, designer handbags, luxury watches, cigarettes, fine wine, and liquor.

There’s also a small convenience store with cold medicine, seasickness relief, candy bars, and other essential items.

Casino

Casino Royale onboard Ovation of the Seas

Every Royal Caribbean ship has a casino. The casinos on the cruise line’s biggest ships rival many of the ones you’ll find on land. It’s not quite as big as Vegas, but the casino offers a lot.

On the Oasis-class ships, you’ll find a poker room, over 450 slot machines, and more than 25 table games. Plus, each casino has a dedicated bar.

But, there is one crucial consideration.

Before you gamble, you should know that cruise ship casinos have very poor payouts. For example, blackjack at Casino Royale pays 5-to-3, whereas, on land, it pays 3-to-2. The payout on slot machines are equally disappointing. 

But, as long as you’re just playing for a fun time, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Daily Activities

Belly flop competition on royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas

In addition to the heart-racing activities listed above, the cruise line’s staff also offers many daily activities, including bingo, trivia, live music, dance parties, movies under the stars, live game shows, seminars, and my favorite – the belly flop competition.

The daily activities change every day and are different on every sailing. 

Each night you will receive a Daily Planner with the next day’s schedule of activities. 

The Daily Planner and Cruise Compass newspapers at cruise ship Oasis of the Seas owned Royal Caribbean International

Check out the next day’s activities, so you don’t miss anything fun.

But, be warned.

There are hundreds of activities to choose from. And, as tempting as it is to try and fit every activity into your schedule, it’s simply not possible.

Choose a couple of activities each day that interest you the most.

Entertainment

Greese-performed-in-the-Royal-Theater-on-Symphony-of-the-Seas
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International)

The onboard entertainment is another area that Royal Caribbean does exceptionally well. From original productions to water shows and live music to guest comedians, Royal Caribbean offers a diverse selection of entertainment, with something for every cruiser to enjoy.

Many Royal Caribbean ships have state-of-the-art theaters used for mind-blowing performances. The entertainment is at a level you won’t believe was possible for a cruise ship. 

The best part is that most of the entertainment is free. So there’s no added cost to view these fantastic shows.

Royal Caribbean’s original productions rival those on Broadway. And, speaking of Broadway, you’ll even find Broadway production like “Hairspray” and “Cats” on select ships. Often, Broadway musicals are cut down to save on time. But they are a thrill nonetheless.

AquaTheatre show on Harmony of the Seas
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International)

If you’re looking for more excitement, the Royal Caribbean Oasis-class ships feature a large outdoor AquaTheatre. The theatre is home to aerial and water shows performed by world-class divers in a Cirque du Soleil-esque performance. The show is full of heart-stopping entertainment and is a must-see for all cruise travelers.

The Quantum-class ships are home to Two70. The extraordinary, high-tech venue offers a multi-sensory show that combines singing, dancing, robots, and acrobatics.

Performance of Flight Dare to Dream on Symphony of the Seas
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International)

Of course, there’s always live music, singing, and dancing around the ship.

And don’t forget to check your daily planner for the night’s headline show. Each night, the theatre plays host to the night’s entertainment. The performances change with each day. But you can expect to find musicals, comedy shows, and the famous “Love and Marriage Game Show.”

Children’s Programs

Royal Caribbean Adventure Ocean
Photo Credit (Royal Caribbean)

Royal Caribbean offers some of the best children’s programs at sea. They are also one of the only cruise lines to provide programs and activities for children as young as 6 months old.

Adventure Ocean is the heart of Royal Caribbean’s children’s program with free, supervised activities for 3 to 12-year-olds. Royal Caribbean’s childcare staff have at least three years of experience working with children and University level education.

Children in Adventure Ocean are split into three age groups: 

  • Aquanauts (ages 3-5 years)
  • Explorers (ages 6-8 years)
  • Voyagers (ages 9-12 years)

Each group is provided age-appropriate activities, including scavenger hunts and arts and crafts.

The free service ends at 10 pm. However, for a fee, you can leave your kids at Adventure Ocean until 2 am. During the late night, Adventure Ocean is transformed into a supervised Late Night Party Zone.

Royal Caribbean also operates a nursery program for children ages 6 to 18. Royal Babies provides interactive child and parent classes with programming developed by early childhood experts. For a fee, parents can leave their child in the expert care of the nursery staff as they enjoy the day in port, relax by the pool, or visit the onboard spa.

There’s also the Royal Tots program, which offers 45-minute sessions for 18 to 36-month-old children.

The Royal Arcade on Freedom of the Seas

Royal Caribbean also offers dedicated teen and tween spaces for children ages 12 to 17. Some ships offer a dedicated lounge for teens to meet and hang out. Plus, there’s Fuel – the teens-only disco.

CocoCay Private Island

Coco Beach Club, the exclusive beach club at Perfect Day at CocoCay. After the renovaton

CocoCay is a private island owned by Royal Caribbean. It’s located in the Berry Islands chain in the Bahamas.

The island has been developed specifically as a destination for cruise ship passengers. It features all the amenities you would expect to find at a top-notch resort, including water parks, beaches, restaurants, and bars. CocoCay is also home to some of the world’s most beautiful white sand beaches, making it the perfect place to relax and recharge.

Like any other cruise port, your ship will dock in the morning, and it’s up to you if you want to get off or stay on the boat.

Royal Caribbean's private island CocoCay with a teathered hot air balloon, thrill waterpark, and Daredevil's Peak waterslide in the background

There’s no cost to explore the island. And many of the beaches, pools, and food are complimentary. However, some activities, such as the hot air balloon, water park, or cabana rentals, cost extra.

In 2019, Royal Caribbean announced a $250 million renovation of Cococay. The renovations included:

  • A new freshwater pool
  • The new Thrill waterpark
  • The tallest waterslide in North America
  • A new overwater cabana village
  • Multiple new beaches
  • Zipline
  • Tethered hot air balloon

In addition, the island’s dining options were increased, with new restaurants and bars added to the existing lineup. The renovations were completed in early 2020, and it is a popular destination for Royal Caribbean guests.

Royal Caribbean Loyalty Program

Crown and Anchor Society levels
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International)

Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program, the Crown & Anchor Society, rewards frequent cruisers with perks.

The tier-based program has six levels ranging from Gold to Pinnacle Club, as seen below:

  • Gold: 3-29 Cruise Points
  • Platinum: 30-54 Cruise Points
  • Emerald: 55-79 Cruise Points
  • Diamond: 80-174 Cruise Points
  • Diamond Plus: 175-699 Cruise Points
  • Pinnacle Club: 700+ Cruise Points

You’ll earn points with every Royal Caribbean cruise you take as a member. The more you cruise, the more points you earn.

You’ll earn one point for every night spent on a ship and double points when you stay in a suite. As you earn points, you’ll climb the tiers and unlock better rewards.

Best of all, the program is free to join, and you can begin earning points as soon as your second cruise.

The rewards at the lowest tiers aren’t much to brag about. But, they get better and better with each level. And at the top, Pinnacle members receive a free cruise.

Unlike many airline rewards programs, points earned with the Crown & Anchor Society never expire. So, if you reached Platinum five years ago, you will still be at the same level when you take your next cruise.

The permanent points system means it’s not as difficult as it may appear to reach even the highest tiers. For example, you could get to Diamond Plus in just 13 sailings if you say in suites. And you can reach it even sooner if you book longer itineraries.

What to Know Before You Sail

Gratuities

Royal Caribbean charges an automatic gratuity of $16 per person for non-suite guests and $18 per person for guests booked in suite accommodations.

The automatic gratuities are a large and often forgotten cost of cruising. The service charge can add up to over $60 per day for a family of four. That’s over $400 during a 7-day cruise.

According to the cruise line, the money collected from service charges is given to the hardworking crew members, most notably the housekeeping and dining staff.

There is also an 18% gratuity on drinks, mini bar purchases, and spa and salon treatments. These tips go towards the bar and spa staff who do not receive gratuities from the daily service charge.

Although gratuities are charged automatically, they are not mandatory. If you are unhappy with the service, you can visit the Guest Services desk to adjust the amount.

Drink Packages

Colorful Holiday Cocktails On Cruise Ship

If you’re considering taking a cruise, you might wonder if the drink package is worth it..

After all, there’s no better feeling than a stress-free getaway, lounging by the pool with a tropical drink in hand.

Unfortunately for our wallets, drink prices are pretty high on cruise ships. You can typically expect to pay around $7 for a beer and over $12 for a cocktail. It may not sound like much, but only a few drinks a day can quickly add up. And if you’re not keeping track of your onboard spending account, you’ll be surprised when you receive the final bill.

Royal Caribbean’s Deluxe Beverage Package means you receive unlimited drinks for a flat fee (with some restrictions). So, when you visit the bar, you can simply swipe your card without worrying about running up a tab.

The package prices vary but typically cost between $60 to $90 per person per day. There’s also an 18% automatic gratuity added at checkout. 

There are also several non-alcoholic drink packages available for purchase.

It’s important to note that if one person purchases the drink package, every adult sharing the cabin must purchase the same package.

Onboard Internet

Man on the Balcony of a cruise ship using his laptop

Royal Caribbean’s Voom wifi service offers some of the fastest internet speeds in the cruise industry. Their internet speeds aren’t what you might be used to back home, but they are fast enough to stream Netflix, video chat, email, and browse the web.

Recently, Royal Caribbean began upgrading its fleet to the Starlink internet service. The new service provides even faster internet speeds. In fact, the wifi speeds on the updated ships are comparable to land-based internet services. 

The wifi package pricing varies but can usually be found for under $20 per day, per device. There are also multi-device packages at a lower per-device rate.

Dress Code

During the day, Royal Caribbean has a relaxed dress code. On the top deck, you’ll usually find people dressed as if they were heading to the beach – t-shirts, shorts, bathing suits (with a cover-up inside the vessel).

There are three dress codes you need to be aware of:

  • Casual: Jeans, polos, t-shirts, sundresses, and blouses. Shorts are only permitted at breakfast.
  • Smart Casual: Collard shirts, dresses, skirts, blouses, and pantsuits. Jackets, sportscoats, and blazers are welcome but not required.
  • Formal: Suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses, or evening gowns.

There is a smart casual dress code during the evenings, but only for the main dining room and specialty restaurants. Everywhere else on the ship, casual wear is acceptable.

The dinner dress code changes to formal on special nights of the cruise. During your cruise, there will be between 1-3 formal nights. 

But don’t worry if you don’t want to dress up for the night.

Many people “skip” formal night and eat dinner at the buffet, which keeps its casual dress code.

Smoking Policy

Smoking (including e-cigarette smoking) is only allowed in designated outdoor areas, the casino, and the cigar clubs on Freedom and Voyager-class ships. 

Smoking is strictly forbidden anywhere else on the ship, including in cabins and on cabin balconies. Passengers caught smoking in non-designated areas may be fined a $250 cleaning fee.

How to Book

If you’re ready to book, you can head to RoyalCaribbean.com and book directly through the cruise line.

That said, booking a cruise is far more complex than a traditional vacation. There are a lot of decisions to make during the booking process. That’s why we recommend booking through a seasoned travel agent specializing in cruise ship bookings.

Of course, you can also book through Expedia, Orbitz, or another travel provider.

Electrical Outlets

Every vessel in Royal Caribbean’s fleet has North American-style 110-volt outlets in the room and European-style 220-volt outlets. Some of the newer ships also have USB charging ports in the cabin.

Currency

All Royal Caribbean vessels use US dollars no matter where you are sailing.

 But, you won’t need to worry about cash on the ship.

On the ship, your room key doubles as a charge card. Simply swipe at the restaurants, bars, or shops to make purchases. The purchases are automatically charged to your onboard spending account.

This eliminates the need to carry cash while on the cruise ship.

Drinking Age

All Royal Caribbean sailings that depart from North America or the United Arab Emirates have a drinking age of 18.

You must be 18 to consume alcohol on sailings that depart from South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

How Much Does a Royal Caribbean Cruise Cost

Royal Caribbean Cruise ship docked at port

Overall, Royal Caribbean is one of the most affordable cruise lines. In our experience, you can usually find a decent cabin for less than $100 per person, per night, with occasional deals as low as $60 per person, per night. 

On the high end, we’ve seen 7-day cruise fares as high as $22,000 for the Spacious AquaTheater Suite on Wonder of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean appeals to a diverse group of travelers and incomes. So it’s no surprise to find a wide range of prices.

It’s important to note that Royal Caribbean displays prices based on the “double occupancy” rate. Like many cruise lines, Royal Caribbean charges prices per person, not per room. The prices shown are based on the per person price when two people occupy a cabin. The price may differ depending on the number of occupants in a room.

Cruise fares fluctuate throughout the year, but there are some common patterns if you want to save money.

Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas aerial view from behind
(Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International)

Generally, newer and bigger cruise ships have higher fares than older and smaller vessels. You’d expect to pay more to sail on Quantum of the Seas than the two-decades-old Voyager of the Seas.

As you might expect, cruise ships are cheaper during off-peak times of the year. As a general rule of thumb, cruise prices are lowest when school is in session. Summers, spring break, and Christmas holidays are the busiest times of the year and often the most expensive to sail.

When you book your cruise also matters. Cruise fares go on sale up to two years before the sailing date. The earlier you book, the cheaper the fares. That’s because cruise lines tend to raise prices as the cabins fill up.

Most importantly, you can take advantage of price protection when you book early. If the cruise price drops below your purchase price, simply call Royal Caribbean support and ask them to match the lower price.

Booking early and taking advantage of price protection has saved us thousands of dollars on cruise fares.

Another important consideration is how much you will spend on the ship. Drinks, wifi, specialty dining, room service, shore excursions, spa treatments, and souvenirs all cost extra. Unless you purchase a package in advance, it’s essential to budget for these extra expenses.

Most of the onboard activities and entertainment are included with your cruise fare. And so are meals at the buffet and in the main dining room.

Bottom Line: Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean is one of the most popular cruise lines in the world. Their ships offer a variety of activities and entertainment, keeping passengers entertained for days on end.

From Broadway-style shows to aqua parks, there’s something for everyone on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

The cruise line is perfect for families, active couples, first-time cruisers, and travelers on a budget.

If you’re looking for a fantastic vacation experience, check out Royal Caribbean!

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Marcello

I’ve been cruising since I was 11 years old. I love the freedom that cruising provides, meeting new people, and exploring amazing new ships. I love to share my passion for cruising and travel with readers.

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