Guide to Royal Caribbean (2024)

Royal Caribbean International, which was formerly known as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line when it was founded in 1968 in Norway, is one of the most popular cruise lines today. Having held the title of largest cruise ship in the world since 2006, they're known for their innovative ships filled from head-to-toe with thrilling activities.

They've also got some of the best entertainment at sea, with their Oasis Class ships allowing guests to watch Broadway-style musicals and high-diving acrobatic spectaculars at the AquaTheatre.

After the debut of Wonder of the Seas in 2022, Royal Caribbean's fleet was increased to 26 ships at sea, with 4 more scheduled for delivery between 2024 and 2026. The most notable of the ships is the much anticipated Icon of the Seas, which will be the first new class of ship launched by Royal Caribbean since the Quantum Class in 2014.

In this comprehensive guide, we provide an overview of the cruise line, as well as information regarding booking a Royal Caribbean vacation, onboard amenities, dining, destinations, and other helpful tips that will enhance your cruise experience.

Read more: 10 things Royal Caribbean does well

Overview of the fleet

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As of January 2023, there are 26 Royal Caribbean ships actively sailing across the globe in 6 different classes. Their newest ship, Icon of the Seas, is expected to debut in January 2024 and will mark the first new class of ship since 2014. Icon will also become the largest ship in the world, stealing the title from Wonder of the Seas, the fifth Oasis Class ship.

By the end of 2026, Royal Caribbean's fleet will be comprised of 30 ships in 7 different classes.

Read more: Royal Caribbean ships by size

Icon Class

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The Icon Class has yet to officially hit the high seas. The first ship, Icon of the Seas, will launch in early 2024. The current projected maiden voyage is scheduled to depart on January 27, 2024 from Miami, Florida.

While this class of ship takes inspiration from the Oasis Class with the various neighborhoods and inward-facing balcony cabins, guests can expect numerous Royal Caribbean firsts, including Thrill Island, the largest waterpark at sea that will feature 6 record-breaking water slides; an infinity-edge pool; new Surfside neighborhood; and AquaDome.

In addition to Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has one more unnamed Icon Class ship scheduled for delivery in 2026.

Read more: The 15 big changes on Icon of the Seas that Royal Caribbean has planned

Icon of the Seas

  • Gross tonnage: 250,800
  • Length: 1,198 feet
  • Width: 216 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 5,610

Star of the Seas

While exact specifications have not been formally announced by the cruise line, it is expected that the ship will be similar to Icon of the Seas. She is expected to launch in August 2025.

  • Gross tonnage: 250,800
  • Length: 1,198 feet
  • Width: 216 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 5,610

Unnamed Icon Class ship

  • Gross tonnage: 250,800
  • Length: 1,198 feet
  • Width: 216 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 5,610

Quantum Class

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Despite being launched after the Oasis Class, Royal Caribbean's Quantum Class vessels are noticeably smaller, ranging between 167,704 and 169,379 gross tons. They are the only ships in the cruise line's fleet to feature attractions such as the North Star observation capsule, iFly skydiving simulator, SeaPlex multipurpose venue, and Two 70° lounge.

The Quantum Class is made up of 5 ships that sail across the globe from the Caribbean and Bahamas to Alaska, Australia & New Zealand, Asia, Europe, and Hawaii.

Quantum of the Seas (2014)

  • Gross tonnage: 168,666
  • Length: 1,141 feet
  • Width: 136 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 4,180

Anthem of the Seas (2015)

  • Gross tonnage: 168,666
  • Length: 1,141 feet
  • Width: 136 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 4,180

Ovation of the Seas (2016)

  • Gross tonnage: 168,666
  • Length: 1,138 feet
  • Width: 136 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 4,180

Spectrum of the Seas (2019)

  • Gross tonnage: 169,379
  • Length: 1,139 feet
  • Width: 135 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 4,256

Odyssey of the Seas (2021)

  • Gross tonnage: 167,704
  • Length: 1,138 feet
  • Width: 135 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 4,284

The latter two ships -- Spectrum of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas -- are part of Royal Caribbean's Quantum Ultra Class of ships, which combines all the fan-favorites onboard standard Quantum Class vessels with a few key differences:

  • The Sports Deck located in the aft of the ships includes a SkyPad.
  • The Main Dining Room is unified.
  • They are slightly larger than the original Quantum-class ships.
  • In addition to Izumi Sushi, there's also a Teppanyaki restaurant.

Oasis Class

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It's hard to believe that it's been over 12 years since the Oasis Class was launched in 2009. They're currently the biggest cruise ships at sea and offer guests endless options for activities, dining, and entertainment.

It was the first class of ships in the world to feature the concept of neighborhoods that offer distinct experiences based on personal styles, preferences, or moods. If, for instance, you're looking for a serene escape from the crowds, you might find yourself wandering through Central Park admiring the thousands of live plants.

Or if you're hoping to be in the middle of all the action, the Pool & Sports Zone or Royal Promenade may offer more activities that fulfill this want.

Oasis Class ships were also the first to feature interior-facing balconies in their Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods.

There are currently 5 Oasis Class ships with a 6th -- Utopia of the Seas -- expected to be delivered in 2024.

Oasis of the Seas (2009)

  • Gross tonnage: 226,838
  • Length: 1,187 feet
  • Width: 215 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 5,602

Allure of the Seas (2010)

  • Gross tonnage: 225,282
  • Length: 1,187 feet
  • Width: 215 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 5,484

Harmony of the Seas (2016)

  • Gross tonnage: 226,963
  • Length: 1,188 feet
  • Width: 215.5 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 5,479

Symphony of the Seas (2018)

  • Gross tonnage: 228,081
  • Length: 1,188 feet
  • Width: 215.5 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 5,518

Wonder of the Seas (2022)

  • Gross tonnage: 236,857
  • Length: 1,188 feet
  • Width: 211 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 5,734

Utopia of the Seas (2024)

  • Gross tonnage: 236,860
  • Length: 1,188 feet
  • Width: 211 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 5,668

Harmony of the Seas was the first ship in the class to feature the Ultimate Abyss, a pair of side-by-side dry slides that take guests from the Sports Zone to the Boardwalk, as well as the Perfect Storm water slide trio.

Both features were added to Oasis of the Seas during its amplification in 2019 and can be found on all ships in the class except for Allure of the Seas, whose amplification was indefinitely postponed as a result of the pandemic.

Wonder of the Seas is more like an older sister to the other ships than a twin sibling, as she has some key differences that make her stand out boldly, such as a brand-new Suite neighborhood, upgraded pool deck, as well as a redesigned mini-golf course, and Windjammer Buffet that's also the largest in the fleet.

Read more: Wonder of the Seas vs other Oasis Class ships

Freedom Class

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Freedom Class ships were the first to feature FlowRider surf simulators, the H2O Zone for kids, and cantilevered hot tubs.

Currently, there are itineraries released for the Bahamas and Caribbean, Canada and New England, and Bermuda. If you're looking for a quick getaway, Freedom Class ships make a great option and sail on 3- and 4-night itineraries, all of which stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

It's also Royal Caribbean's smallest class of ships at sea, comprised of only 3 vessels; however, they are also some of the cruise line's most beloved ships.

Freedom of the Seas (2006)

  • Gross tonnage: 156,271
  • Length: 1,111 feet
  • Width: 185 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 3,926

Liberty of the Seas (2007)

  • Gross tonnage: 154,407
  • Length: 1,112 feet
  • Width: 185 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 3,798

Independence of the Seas (2008)

  • Gross tonnage: 154,407
  • Length: 1,112 feet
  • Width: 185 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 3,858

All three ships have received some sort of amplification, from a complete overhaul of the pool deck to the addition of the only boomerang-style slide in the fleet.

That being said, there are some differences among the ships, so it's important to check and see if the one you're looking to sail on has the amenities you are hoping for.

Read more: All about Freedom Class cruise ships

Radiance Class

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While you won't find all the bells and whistles onboard Radiance Class ships as you will onboard Royal Caribbean's newest record-breaking vessels, you will be taken to some pretty neat destinations that are unable to accommodate today's mega-ships.

Radiance Class destinations include Alaska, Australia & New Zealand, the Bahamas, Canada & New England, Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Pacific Northwest, Panama Canal, and the South Pacific.

Plus, in December 2023, Serenade of the Seas is embarking on the cruise line's first-ever Ultimate World Cruise, sailing to all 7 continents and visiting 11 World Wonders including Iguazú Falls in Argentina; Taj Mahal in India; and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Alexandria, Egypt.

While Serenade of the Seas makes her voyage around the world, the other 3 ships in the Radiance Class will be offering shorter sailings.

Radiance of the Seas (2001)

  • Gross tonnage: 90,090
  • Length: 962 feet
  • Width: 106 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 2,143

Brilliance of the Seas (2002)

  • Gross tonnage: 90,090
  • Length: 962 feet
  • Width: 106 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 2,142

Serenade of the Seas (2003)

  • Gross tonnage: 90,090
  • Length: 962 feet
  • Width: 106 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 2,143

Jewel of the Seas (2004)

  • Gross tonnage: 90,090
  • Length: 962 feet
  • Width: 106 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 2,191

Radiance Class ships are great for those who are looking for a more traditional cruising experience that highlights intimacy and port-focused itineraries.

Voyager Class

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The infamous Royal Promenade first debuted on Voyager Class ships, which were the largest class of cruise ships in the world at the time. Plus, they were the first ever to feature an ice rink at sea.

There are two generations of ships within the class, as the latter two vessels -- Navigator of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas -- feature cabins with wider glass balconies.

You can almost think of them as shorter versions of Freedom Class ships, with a few notable differences, such as the shorter Royal Promenades. This, however, makes sense considering the ships are smaller.

In total, there are 5 Voyager Class ships.

Voyager of the Seas (1999)

  • Gross tonnage: 137,276
  • Length: 1,020 feet
  • Width: 157.5 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 3,602

Explorer of the Seas (2000)

  • Gross tonnage: 137,308
  • Length: 1,020 feet
  • Width: 157 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 3,286

Adventure of the Seas (2001)

  • Gross tonnage: 137,276
  • Length: 1,020 feet
  • Width: 157.5 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 3,114

Navigator of the Seas (2002)

  • Gross tonnage: 139,999
  • Length: 1,020 feet
  • Width: 161 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 3,388

Mariner of the Seas (2003)

  • Gross tonnage: 139,863
  • Length: 1,020 feet
  • Width: 127 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 3,344

Three of the ships -- Voyager of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, and Mariner of the Seas -- have undergone the cruise line's Royal Amplification program, which added newer fleet favorites to the older ships, such as some firsts.

Navigator of the Seas, for instance, is the only ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet to feature The Blaster water slide, which is currently the longest water slide at sea! And onboard Mariner of the Seas, guests will find a SkyPad, a virtual reality bungee trampoline.

Vision Class

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Royal Caribbean's Vision Class is their oldest and smallest (by gross tonnage) class at sea, with Grandeur of the Seas launching in 1996.

These ships offer a relaxing, no-frills cruising experience with limited onboard "thrills" that the cruise line has come to be most known for. That being said, there is still an adults-only Solarium with a retractable roof, rock wall, mini-golf, and a pool deck for all ages to enjoy.

Many guests return to these smaller ships due to their limited occupancy and enjoy the more intimate service that they're able to receive.

Today, there are four Vision Class ships sailing across the world to places like Bermuda, Canada & New England, the Caribbean, and Europe.

Grandeur of the Seas (1996)

  • Gross tonnage: 73,817
  • Length: 916 feet
  • Width: 105.6 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 1,992

Rhapsody of the Seas (1997)

  • Gross tonnage: 78,491
  • Length: 915.35 feet
  • Width: 105.6 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 1,998

Enchantment of the Seas (1997)

  • Gross tonnage: 82,910
  • Length: 989 feet
  • Width: 105.6 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 2,252

Vision of the Seas (1998)

  • Gross tonnage: 78,340
  • Length: 915 feet
  • Width: 105.6 feet
  • Number of passengers (double occupancy): 2,050

Enchantment of the Seas is the biggest ship in this class and offers different features than her sister ships. In 2005, the ship was actually cut apart in the middle and extended by 73 feet. Once the new section was added, everything was welded back together!

Plus, Enchantment is the only ship in the class to feature a Jump Zone, a set of four bungee trampolines. It is unlike the newer SkyPads in that it does not have a virtual reality feature.

Destinations

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Despite the cruise line's name, Royal Caribbean sails to destinations across the globe. Potential passengers can find itineraries sailing to the following places:

  • Alaska
  • Asia
  • Australia & New Zealand
  • Bahamas
  • Bermuda
  • Canada & New England
  • Caribbean
  • Europe
  • Hawaii
  • Mexican Riviera
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Panama Canal
  • South America
  • South Pacific
  • Transatlantic
  • Transpacific

Private Islands/Destinations

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Royal Caribbean has two private destinations located in the Bahamas and Caribbean: Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee, Haiti.

The cruise line spent a reported $250 million invested to completely renovate the island of CocoCay in 2019. After it was reopened, it was renamed "Perfect Day at CocoCay."

While on shore at CocoCay, you have a myriad of unique activities to choose from, including Thrill Waterpark, a zip line, the luxurious Coco Beach Club, a Swimming Pigs Tour, and a Helium Balloon Ride.

If you are looking to elevate your time on the island, consider renting a cabana. Be aware of the cost, though! Some cabanas cost more than the cruise!

Royal Caribbean is planning on opening the only cruise line private island in the Southern Hemisphere, Perfect Day at Lelepa, as part of their Perfect Day Collection, which is meant to bring a next-level private island experience to cruise itineraries.

Labadee, Haiti is the cruise line's second private destination. While it doesn't include as many thrills as CocoCay, you can still find a half-mile-long zip line, an alpine coaster, jet skis, cabanas, and pristine beaches.

Read more: Labadee, Haiti Do's and Don'ts at Royal Caribbean's private beach

Onboard accommodations

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Every Royal Caribbean ship at sea offers a variety of different cabins to choose from. There are interior cabins for those trying to maximize their cruise budget, ocean view staterooms that offer great views of the ocean from a sealed window, balcony cabins for those who can't soak up enough ocean views, and suites that are, well, ultimately sweet.

Read more: Royal Caribbean Cruises Cabins and Suites Guide

Interior

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Interior rooms are often the smallest and cheapest option onboard, as they're usually located in the interior of the ship, meaning that they have no access to natural light.

Depending on the ship, interior cabins can range from 136 square feet, like those on Vision Class ships, to 260 square feet for ultra-spacious interior staterooms that have space for up to six guests.

While they may not be the most spacious accommodations in the world, they contain the same amenities as all other standard cabins.

On select Royal Caribbean ships, you can select an interior cabin that actually has a view of the inside of the ship overlooking areas like the Royal Promenade or, on Oasis Class ships, Central Park or the Boardwalk.

Additionally, some have virtual "balconies," which are floor-to-ceiling 80-inch LED televisions that stream live video feed from the ship's cameras.

Of course, you can expect these staterooms to cost more than a regular interior stateroom with no view.

Ocean view

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Ocean view cabins are great for those who are hoping to have access to some natural light and ocean views, without paying balcony prices.

They range from about 150 square feet to 260 square feet for ultra-spacious ocean view staterooms that can accommodate six guests.

It's important to note that some ships do have obstructed views, such as those located at the forward of the ships and overlook the helipads.

Balcony

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Balconies are great for people who want to soak in as many ocean views as possible without having to leave their cabin. Plus, the balcony provides extra square footage, making them larger than interior and ocean view rooms.

Oasis Class ships were the first to feature interior-facing balconies, so guests can choose between three different categories: ocean view, Boardwalk, and Central Park.

Icon Class ships no longer have a Boardwalk. Instead, they feature the family-friendly Surfside Neighborhood. Like the Boardwalk, there are balcony cabins that overlook this neighborhood, rather than the ocean. This ship was also the first in the fleet to feature infinite verandas.

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Interior balcony cabins are usually cheaper than ocean view balconies. Plus, some Boardwalk balconies actually have a slightly obstructed ocean view behind the AquaTheatre.

Balconies range from 39 to about 80 square feet, while the staterooms themselves range from 179 square feet to 195 for spacious rooms.

Suite

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Onboard Royal Caribbean's newest ships, you can find suites that are like luxury apartments and as large as 1,800 square feet. The highest tier of suites -- dubbed Star Class -- comes with some pretty neat amenities, including a private butler and complimentary beverage packages, gratuities, and specialty restaurants.

While the other two tiers -- Sea and Sky Class -- come with fewer perks, they still provide guests with an elevated experience. You can expect things like priority boarding, complimentary Wi-Fi, and dinner in the dedicated suite restaurant, Coastal Kitchen (on select ships). Plus, you'll receive double Crown & Anchor points if you reserve a suite when you book! This benefit is not available to those who Royal Up.

Suites can range from 240 square foot Junior Suites to nearly 1,8000 square feet for the Royal Loft Suites onboard Oasis Class ships. Don't forget about the three-story Ultimate Family Townhouse onboard Icon Class ships!

If you have a large family, there are a limited number of two-bedroom suites available, so be sure to plan ahead and book early!

Dining

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You'll never find yourself hungry when sailing on a Royal Caribbean cruise, especially when the newer ships can have upwards of twenty different dining venues onboard.

There are plenty of options available to satisfy all travelers. Those seeking a more laid-back dining experience may opt to eat in the buffet, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or grab a slice of pizza at Sorrento's.

Specialty restaurants are available to those who want to elevate their cruising experience. For a surcharge, guests can dine at Chops Grille, the cruise line's signature steakhouse; Izumi, which offers sushi and Japanese dishes; the Chef's Table for an intimate, five-course wine paring dinner that's hosted by the Executive Chef and Sommelier; and Giovanni's Table for Italian.

Venues vary by ship, with some having over ten specialty restaurants to choose from!

With so many choices, it's important to understand what venues are complimentary and which ones are available for an additional fee.

Read more: Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Complimentary dining

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Sticking to the included dining options is the best way to get the most value out of your cruise fare. With so many complimentary restaurants, it's easy to board the ship and not spend another penny on food.

While the newer ships have more venues available, some are standard on all ships within Royal Caribbean's fleet.

Main Dining Room

The Main Dining Room serves at least two meals per day: breakfast and dinner. On sea days, lunch will also be available.

For dinner, guests can expect nightly three-course meals, with the cuisine's theme changing nightly. Depending on the length of the cruise and itinerary, possible themes may include Welcome Aboard (American), Italian, Caribbean, French, Mexican, The Royal Night (the second formal night on sailings 6+ nights), British, and Bon Voyage (Mediterranean).

It's a great place to try new foods, as you're able to order more than one appetizer, entree, and dessert!

Additionally, there are a few premium dishes that do have additional surcharges. Plus, premium beverages, such as soda, alcohol, and specialty coffee, are not complimentary in the Main Dining Room. They can, however, be purchased individually or as part of a beverage package.

Read more: First look at Royal Caribbean's new main dining room menus

Windjammer Marketplace

Windjammer is Royal Caribbean's buffet that's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. During each meal, there are plenty of options for guests to choose from. During breakfast, for instance, you can find staples like eggs, bacon, cereal, yogurt, fruit, pancakes, and more. These options rarely, if ever, change throughout the sailing. You'll also be able to get a cup of coffee to kickstart your day.

While it's not open 24 hours per day, it is open long enough during each meal to cover the range of when guests may like to eat. Sample hours include breakfast from 7am - 11am, lunch from 12pm - 3pm, and dinner from 6pm - 9pm. No matter when you go, the atmosphere is laid back.

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Seating is first-come, first-served, and wait staff constantly roam the seating area to help clear tables, serve drinks, and assist with other special requests.

Reusing plates is a health hazard on a cruise ship, so the proper protocol is to get a new one if you wish to help yourself to additional servings. You can leave your finished plate on your table while you go peruse the buffet for seconds (or thirds), and one of the servers will collect it while you're gone.

Read more: Guide to Royal Caribbean's Windjammer Cafe buffet

Solarium Bistro

Another buffet option available on select ships is the Solarium Bistro, which is located in the adults-only Solarium.

For breakfast and lunch, it operates as a buffet and is usually less crowded than the Windjammer. At night, however, it turns into a Mediterranean restaurant for dinner. Appetizers and desserts are served buffet style, while each entree is made-to-order.

You can find the Solarium Bistro onboard Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas.

Additional complimentary quick-service venues vary by ship and may include any of the following:

  • Mini Bites, offering burgers, fries, hot dogs, grilled cheeses, taquitos, pizza, and more (Available on Harmony of the Seas).
  • Doghouse, a hot dog and sausage stand with a variety of meats and toppings (Available on Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas).
  • Park Café, offering breakfast, custom-made salads, soups, and sandwiches, including the signature "Kummelweck!" (Available on Allure of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, Icon of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas).

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  • El Loco Fresh, a grab-and-go Mexican restaurant with burritos, quesadillas, nachos, beans, and rice. There's a topping bar that lets you customize your food to your liking (Available on Allure of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Icon of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas).
  • Café at Two70, offering breakfast, salads, soups, and sandwiches on Quantum Class ships (Available on Anthem of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, and Spectrum of the Seas).
  • Sorrento’s Pizza, a pizza slice restaurant offering at least three different types of pizzas and antipasti (Available on Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Icon of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas).
  • Café Promenade, offering coffee as well as small pastries, sandwiches, and fruit. This venue is open 24 hours per day (Available on Adventure of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas).
  • AquaDome Market, featuring five different food stalls that each highlight a specific food or cuisine, ranging from sweet and savory crepes to made-to-order Mediterranean bowls (Available on Icon of the Seas).
  • Pearl Cafe, available exclusively on Icon Class ships, this is essentially the next-gen Café Promenade located in the Royal Promenade (Available on Icon of the Seas).
  • Surfside Bites, features grab-and-go options in the brand-new Surfside Neighborhood (Available on Icon of the Seas).
  • Surfside Eatery, another complimentary buffet that's located in the heart of the Surfside Neighborhood so families don't have to stray from all the fun (Available on Icon of the Seas).

Specialty dining

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For an elevated and more intimate dining experience, Royal Caribbean offers guests the opportunity to dine in one of their specialty restaurants for an additional charge.

They are priced in one of two manners: a singular cover charge or à la carte pricing. Restaurants that are paid via cover charge include at least one option for each course. If you choose to order more than one entree, you may be charged extra; however, this rule varies by specialty restaurant.

À la carte venues charge you just for what you order and can be thought of like a conventional land-based restaurant.

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You can make reservations and pre-pay for specialty restaurants in advance on the Cruise Planner, which usually results in a discount. Plus, they offer bundled discounts for those looking to dine in multiple specialty restaurants throughout their cruise vacation. There's even an Ultimate Dining Package for guests who want to enjoy multiple entrees and visit multiple specialty restaurants each day of the sailing; it also applies to lunch in specialty restaurants on sea days!

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Royal Caribbean's Unlimited Dining Package

The cost of specialty restaurants varies, and the same restaurant can have a different price depending on the ship. The price can also fluctuate from sailing to sailing.

Most specialty dining has a single surcharge, ranging from around $13 for Johnny Rockets or $55 for dinner at Jamie’s Italian to $80+ for the Chef's Table. Most specialty dining restaurant cover charges fall between $50 to $65.

If you want to experience specialty restaurants and save some money, try going during lunch. Pricing can often be half the price of dinner while still providing the same menu.

The à la carte priced restaurants will have item prices ranging from just a few dollars up to around $20.

Specialty restaurants vary from ship to ship, so be sure to check which are on your specific ship before booking.

  • Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, a Japanese restaurant with traditional teppanyaki and sushi. You can eat off the prix fixe menu for a single charge or pay for each sushi roll à la carte.
  • Chops Grill, Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse.
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, which features classic bar food including nachos, sliders, fries, and chicken tenders that are offered à la carte.

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  • Wonderland, a molecular dining experience with an Alice and Wonderland theme that engages all of your senses.
  • 150 Central Park, an elegant restaurant focusing on locally sourced ingredients.
  • Samba Grill, a traditional, all-you-can-eat-meat Brazilian steakhouse.
  • Sabor, a Mexican restaurant with tacos, quesadillas, and small plates.
  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, the newest Italian restaurant in Royal Caribbean’s fleet with a pizza and pasta menu along with dishes like chicken parmigiana.
  • Giovanni’s Table, a traditional Italian restaurant offering items such as pasta carbonara and eggplant parmigiana.

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  • Jamie’s Italian, offering contemporary Italian cuisine that features antipasti planks along with homemade pasta, fish, and chicken burgers.
  • Johnny Rockets, offering classic American fare including burgers, fries, and milkshakes.
  • Hooked Seafood, a seafood restaurant highlighting New England-style seafood including dishes like Maryland crab cakes, Maine lobster rolls, and oysters.
  • The Mason Jar, a southern-inspired restaurant with fried chicken, lobster and crawfish gumbo, and brunch options.
  • Portside BBQ, a barbecue restaurant with a variety of barbecued meats and comfort food side dishes.
  • Chef’s Table, a five-course wine-paring dinner that's hosted by the Executive Chef and Sommelier.
  • Empire Supper Club, an indulgent eight-course meal that's paired with live music.
  • Pier 7, an a la carte restaurant that dishes up brunch favorites in the Surfside Neighborhood.
  • Izumi in the Park, available for grab-and-go sushi and other sweet treats.

Drink packages

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Whether you want to sip on a co*cktail while lounging by the pool, enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, or try a new beer at one of the pubs, Royal Caribbean offers numerous lounges and bars for guests.

A Royal Caribbean drink package is a popular add-on for cruises who want to save money or are worried about a large bill at the end of their vacation.

There are three different packages to choose from depending on your drinking preferences: the Deluxe Drink Package, Refreshment Package, and Classic Soda Package.

Pricing for the Deluxe Beverage Package ranges from $63.00 to $89.00 per person, per day, while the Refreshment Package is a bit less (because it does not include any alcohol) at $29.00 to $38.00 per person, per day. The Classic Soda Package is the cheapest ranging from $12.99 to $15.00 per person, per day.

The pricing varies on the ship, itinerary, and sail date. Once you place your deposit, you should continuously check Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner for a sale on drink packages!

Entertainment and activities

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For guests sailing onboard a Royal Caribbean ship, there are plenty of amazing activities to keep everyone busy and happy.

Royal Caribbean is known for providing guests with ultimate thrills while at sea, including FlowRider surf simulators, the Perfect Storm water slide trio, ice skating rinks, Ultimate Abyss dry slides, zip lines, skydiving simulators, and glass observation capsules that soar 300 feet above the ocean.

Even though their oldest ships lack many of the bells and whistles of their newer counterparts, they come equipped with rock climbing walls, pools and hot tubs, and the cruise line's acclaimed Adventure Ocean youth program, which has age-specific programming for guests up to seventeen.

Additionally, adults can partake in activities like gambling at the casino, wine or liquor tastings, art auctions, sushi-making classes, or splurge on a spa treatment (or two!). For kids who'd like to go to the spa, Royal Caribbean has a special menu for guests ages 13-17.

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When it comes to entertainment, the cruise line is known for its sizable lineup with top-notch productions and live music. Depending on the ship, they offer everything from Broadway-style musicals to comedy and ice skating shows, live jazz music, trivia, as well as nightly karaoke and game shows.

Plus, their AquaTheatre shows onboard Oasis Class ships are one-of-a-kind. Guests can watch jaw-dropping shows that feature acrobatics, dancers, and skilled divers who leap from 30-foot platforms into the deepest pools at sea.

Icon Class ships feature the largest ice rink at sea, as well as the first-ever enclosed AquaTheater. You'll also find the record-breaking Category 6 water park onboard these massive vessels.

Read more: First time cruiser's guide to Royal Caribbean's onboard activities

Youth programs

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Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean program is one of the best youth programs at sea. They allow ample opportunities for children and teens to meet other guests their own age, while allowing parents a safe childcare option for some alone time.

One of the first things you do when you board the ship is head to Adventure Ocean to get your child (or children) registered. While you can register kids at any point during the cruise, taking advantage of the open house on embarkation day allows for an optimal experience. While parents get to meet the staff and ask any questions that they may have, the kids get to check out the facilities.

There are five different age groups for guests between the ages of 3 and 17:

  • Aquanauts (3-5)
  • Explorers (6-8)
  • Voyagers (9-11)
  • Pre-teens (12-14)
  • Teens (15-17)

Depending on which age group your child is in, they may be able to participate in activities like karaoke, pajama night, carnival games, crazy tag, sports tournaments, and dance parties.

Read more: 5 best cruises for teens

Internet

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For those wishing to stay connected while at sea, Royal Caribbean offers a Voom Surf + Stream Internet Package, allowing guests 24-hour access to the fastest internet at sea.

Unlike other mainstream cruise lines, this is the only Wi-Fi package Royal Caribbean offers, so it's more inclusive than others. You can browse the web, send & receive emails, chat on messenger apps, stream your favorite TV shows and music, and video chat, as well as live stream and post on social media.

Pricing usually begins around $20.00 to $25.00 per person, per day; however, purchasing in advance via the Cruise Planner allows you to take advantage of discounts and bundle multiple devices for less.

You can purchase a single package and switch between devices. Just note that the internet will only be active on one device at a time; as soon as you log into the second device, the first is disconnected.

Crown and Anchor Society

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Royal Caribbean's loyalty program is called the Crown and Anchor Society. As soon as a guest completes their first sailing onboard a Royal Caribbean ship, they become a Gold member. The more frequently you cruise with them, the more you are rewarded for staying "loyal to Royal."

You earn one point for every night onboard, unless you're staying in a suite or traveling solo, which rewards guests with two points per night.

There are six tiers within the Crown and Anchor Society:

  • Gold (3 points)
  • Platinum (30 points)
  • Emerald (55 points)
  • Diamond (80 points)
  • Diamond Plus (175 points)
  • Pinnacle Club (700 points)

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The higher the status you are, the more perks you are rewarded. Diamond members, for instance, receive four drink vouchers per day of their sailing, as well as access to the exclusive Diamond Lounge (on select ships).

Loyalty points are awarded at the conclusion of each cruise; therefore, if you're currently a Gold member and reach Platinum status mid-sailing, you won't receive the additional benefits until the next cruise.

What you need to know about Royal Caribbean International

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Before placing a deposit on a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation, here are some things you should keep in mind:

Base fare

Royal Caribbean is not an all-inclusive cruise line. It's important to calculate how much you are expecting to spend on add-ons, such as port fees, specialty dining, drink packages, internet, spa treatments, shore excursions, etc. Sometimes, these can add up to be more than the base fare itself!

There are also some family-fun activities onboard that are not included, like riding the North Star on a sea day, arcade games, escape rooms, etc.

Read more: 14 cruise ship extra charges you should know about

Daily gratuities

As of November 11, 2023, the daily gratuity rate for Royal Caribbean is $18.00 per person, per day in standard cabins (i.e., Junior Suite and below) and $20.50 per person, per day for all Suite guests.

Diverse fleet

While Royal Caribbean is known for their mega ships, their older ships offer a more intimate cruising experience and often sail to more unique destinations that would not be able to accommodate the size or passenger capacity of today's larger ships.

Royal Caribbean App

Before you leave for your cruise, make sure you download their free app. You'll need it access your Set Sail pass, as well as complete the mandatory safety briefing prior to sail away. Plus, the app will be your guide for onboard activities, as it will be home to each day's schedule.

As of early 2023, you can also use the app to chat with other passengers for free.

Read more:

Guide to Royal Caribbean (2024)

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