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Royal Caribbean Cruise Review — Ships, Destinations, Dining, and More

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Katie Seemann

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Royal Caribbean is a large cruise line offering mega-ship cruises across the globe. The company has been on the cutting edge of the cruise industry since it launched in 1969. Since then, it has continued to push the boundaries of cruise ship size and amenities, offering lots of “firsts” including the first rock climbing, ice skating, and surfing at sea.

Today, Royal Caribbean has 26 ships sailing to hundreds of destinations every day. If you’ve never cruised before, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find on a Royal Caribbean ship. If you are a cruising veteran, you probably look to Royal Caribbean for some of the biggest and most innovative ships at sea.

Basic Information

Name: Royal Caribbean International

Parent Company: Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. (also owns Celebrity Cruises, Azamara, and Silversea Cruises)

Number of Ships: 26 (2 more will be added in 2024)

Destinations: 300+

Loyalty Program: Crown & Anchor Society

Credit Card: Royal Caribbean Visa Signature® Card

Ships

Royal Caribbean boasts a fleet of 26 cruise ships:

  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Jewel of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Odyssey of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Radiance of the Seas
  • Rhapsody of the Seas
  • Serenade of the Seas
  • Spectrum of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Vision of the Seas
  • Voyager of the Seas
  • Wonder of the Seas

Two additional ships will be added in the coming years: Icon of the Seas will debut in January 2024 and Utopia of the Seas is coming in spring 2024.

Odyssey of the Seas
Odyssey of the Seas. Image Credit: Royal Caribbean

Departure Ports

Royal Caribbean sails to more than 300 destinations around the world from 50 departure ports.

SCROLL FOR MORE
 Departure Ports
North America and the CaribbeanBridgetown, Barbados
Nassau, Bahamas
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Central and South AmericaCartagena, ColumbiaColón, PanamaPanama City (Fuerte Amador), Panama 
Asia and the Pacific


Auckland, New ZealandBeijng (Tianjin), China
Melbourne, AustraliaShenzhen, China
Sydney (White Bay), AustraliaTaipei (Keelung), Taiwan
Middle EastDubai, United Arab EmiratesHaifa, Isreal
EuropeAthens (Piraeus), Greece Barcelona (Tarragona), Spain
Limassol, CyprusMálaga, SpainRome (Civitavecchia), Italy
Southampton, EnglandStockholm, SwedenVenice (Ravenna), Italy 

Private Ports/Islands

Owning a private island or beach resort is a common thing among large cruise lines and is something many passengers have come to expect.

The Royal Caribbean “Perfect Day Island Collection” consists of 1 current location and 1 in the works:

  • CocoCay: Located in the Bahamas, this destination features the largest freshwater pool in the Bahamas and the tallest waterslide in North America. You’ll also find a swim-up bar, wave pool, zip line, beaches, a kid’s area, and more.
  • Lelepa: Located on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific, this destination was originally scheduled to open in 2022. However, the pandemic has put those plans on hold and there’s not currently an updated opening date.

Perfect Day at CocoCay
CocoCay is Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas. Image Credit: Royal Caribbean

Hot Tip: You can earn points and miles each time you set sail if you book your cruise with one of these credit cards.

Onboard Activities

There is so much to do on a Royal Caribbean cruise, including pools, a casino, themed parties, Broadway-style shows, youth programs, and art auctions, to name a few.

Icon of the Seas Thrill Island
Thrill Island on the Icon of the Seas includes the largest waterpark at sea. Image Credit: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean is also an industry leader in offering some of the most unique and interesting experiences at sea. Next time you’re on a Royal Caribbean cruise, keep your eye out for some of these activities (not all activities are offered on every ship):

  • Arcade
  • Archery
  • Bumper cars
  • Carousel
  • Central Park
  • Cooking classes
  • Dance classes
  • Escape Rooms
  • Fencing
  • Flow Rider
  • H20 Zone Water Park
  • Ice Skating
  • Karaoke
  • Laser Tag
  • Mini Golf
  • Mystery dinner theater
  • Outdoor movies
  • Ripcord By iFly
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Scuba certification
  • Sky Pad bungee trampoline
  • Spanish classes
  • Table tennis
  • Tidal Wave boomerang slide
  • Trapeze school
  • Waterslides: Typhoon, Cyclone, The Blaster, Riptide, Supercell
  • Zip Line

Formal Nights

Royal Caribbean still offers formal nights on its cruises. Most itineraries will have 1 to 4 formal nights:

  • 3- to 5-night cruises: 1 formal night
  • 6- to 10-night cruises: 2 formal nights
  • 11- to 14-night cruises: 3 formal nights
  • 15+ night cruises: 3-4 formal nights

Dress on formal nights can include suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses, or evening gowns. On formal nights, many of the restaurants require formal dress and The Chef’s Table dining experience requires formal attire.

If you don’t want to dress up, that’s fine, too. Just stick to the buffet or some of the more casual spots for dinner.

Hot Tip: Royal Caribbean is considered one of the best cruise lines for families, so bring your whole crew onboard.

Dining and Beverages

Like most cruise lines, Royal Caribbean offers both complimentary dining that’s included in your cruise fare and specialty dining that has either a flat fee or à la carte pricing.

Sorrento's Pizza
Sorrento’s Pizza is one of the many complimentary dining options on Royal Caribbean ships. Image Credit: Royal Caribbean

Complimentary Dining

There are lots of dining options that are included in the price of your cruise, so you can eat every meal on your ship without paying an extra dime. The following locations are always complimentary, however, not all of these options are offered on every ship:

  • Cafe Promenade
  • Coastal Kitchen
  • Dog House
  • El Loco Fresh
  • Main dining room
  • Mini Bites
  • Noodle Bar
  • Park Cafe
  • Solarium Bistro Restaurant
  • Sorrento’s Pizza
  • Splashaway Cafe
  • The Cafe @ Two70
  • Vitality Cafe
  • Windjammer Buffet

Hot Tip: Beverages like wine, beer, cocktails, and even soda will usually cost extra even at the complimentary restaurants. You can purchase a beverage package when you book your cruise or once you get on board. There are different drink package options available including ones that include alcoholic beverages, soda-only packages, and water bottle packages.

Specialty Dining

You’ll also find restaurants on every Royal Caribbean ship that come with additional charges — either a per-person fee or à la carte menu pricing.

The following dining options will cost extra over what you pay for your cruise:

  • 150 Central Park
  • Cafe Latte-Tudes
  • Chef’s Table
  • Chops Grille
  • Coffee and Tea Shop
  • Cupcake Cupboard
  • Fish & Ships
  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen
  • Giovanni’s Table
  • Hooked Seafood
  • Izumi Hibachi and Sushi
  • Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver
  • Johnny Rockets
  • Johnny Rockets Express
  • La Patisserie
  • Portside BBQ
  • Room Service
  • Sabor
  • Samba Grill
  • Sichuan Red
  • Starbucks
  • Sugar Beach
  • Teppanyaki
  • Wonderland

If you would like to try out some of the specialty restaurants, you can purchase a dining package ahead of time or once you are on board the ship. You’ll be able to choose between a 3-restaurant package or an unlimited package. Kids ages 6 to 10 can dine at specialty restaurants for only $10. Kids ages 5 and under are free.

Hot Tip: How about specialty dining for free? Look out for deals when you book your cruise. Lots of websites offer perks like free specialty dining when you book with them. Be sure to check out our guide to the best websites to book a cruise to get you started.

Bars and Beverages

There are plenty of places on Royal Caribbean ships to kick back and relax with your favorite beverage. Bars and lounges offer à la carte pricing or you can use your beverage package.

Bionic Bar
Grab a drink from a robotic bartender at the Bionic Bar. Image Credit: Royal Caribbean

Here are the bars and lounges you may find on your Royal Caribbean ship (not all locations are offered on every ship):

  • The Bamboo Room
  • Bionic Bar
  • Boleros
  • Champagne Bar
  • Dazzles
  • Diamond Club
  • English Pub
  • The Lime and Coconut
  • North Star Bar
  • Playmakers Bar & Arcade
  • Pool Bar
  • R Bar
  • Rising Tide Bar
  • Sand Bar
  • Schooner Bar
  • Solarium Bar
  • Suite Lounge
  • Trellis Bar
  • Two70 Bar
  • Wipe Out Bar

If you would prefer to pay for your drinks upfront, you can choose one of Royal Caribbean’s beverage packages:

Deluxe Beverage Package

  • Beer
  • Bottled water
  • Coca-Cola souvenir cup
  • Cocktails, spirits, and liquor
  • Coffee and tea
  • Freshly squeezed juice
  • Non-alcoholic cocktails
  • Unlimited soda and Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages
  • Wine by the glass

Refreshment Package

  • Bottled water
  • Coca-Cola souvenir cup
  • Coffee and tea
  • Freshly squeezed juice
  • Non-alcoholic cocktails
  • Unlimited soda and Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages

Classic Soda Package

  • Coca-Cola souvenir cup
  • Unlimited soda and Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages

Water Package

  • 6-, 12-, or 24-packs of water delivered to your stateroom

Hot Tip: The drinking age onboard any Royal Caribbean ship is 21+ on sailings from North America and 18+ on sailings from South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Accommodations

There are so many different types of rooms you can book on your Royal Caribbean cruise. The 4 basic types of rooms include interior, oceanview, balcony, or suite, but there are many different types of rooms among those categories.

No matter what room category you choose, you’ll enjoy the following amenities:

  • Drawer and closet space
  • Flat-screen TV
  • Hair Dryer
  • Safe

Royal Caribbean offers a few unique room categories as well:

Virtual Balcony StateroomsThese rooms are available on select ships (including every interior room on Quantum of the Seas). They feature an 80-inch screen that gives you a virtual ocean view via a live camera outside of the ship.

Virtual Balcony Stateroom
The Virtual Balcony Staterooms on select Royal Caribbean ships feature an 80-inch screen that displays a live feed from outside the ship. Image Credit: Royal Caribbean

Unique Interior View Rooms or Balconies — These rooms have a window or a balcony, but the view isn’t of the ocean! These rooms look out on the action inside the ship like The Royal Promenade or Central Park.

Royal Suite Class — This is a category of rooms that offer the highest level of luxury. You’ll not only enjoy fantastic accommodations but amazing experiences as well. These rooms offer 3 tiers of luxury — Sea Class, Sky Class, and the most luxurious, Star Class.

The Ultimate Family Suite — This one-of-a-kind room at sea is only available on Symphony of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas. It features 2 stories of the ultimate in family luxury including a balcony with a Jacuzzi, private game room, in-suite slide, and tons of other VIP perks!

Ultimate Family Suite on the Symphony of the Seas
The Ultimate Family Suite on the Symphony of the Seas has everything a family could dream of for a luxury vacation on the seas. Image Credit: Royal Caribbean

Hot Tip: Tight budget? Why not pay for part or all of your cruise with points and miles

Crown & Anchor Society

Royal Caribbean offers a loyalty program called the Crown & Anchor Society.

Crown Anchor Society
The Crown & Anchor Society is Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program. Image Credit: Royal Caribbean

After you’ve sailed with Royal Caribbean once, you’ll be automatically enrolled as a member of the Crown & Anchor Society. As a member you’ll earn 1 Cruise Point for every night you sail. Your points are doubled if you book a suite.

There are 6 tiers of membership in the Crown & Anchor Society:

  • Gold: 3+ Cruise Points
  • Platinum: 30+ Cruise Points
  • Emerald: 55+ Cruise Points
  • Diamond: 80+ Cruise Points
  • Diamond Plus: 175+ Cruise Points
  • Pinnacle Club: 700+ Cruise Points

Benefits vary by membership tier and can include things like onboard discounts, priority check-in, onboard lounges, private departure area, and free or discounted cruises.

Hot Tip: Make sure you’re prepared — check out our printable cruise packing list before you set sail.

Final Thoughts

Cruising is a great way to spend your vacation and Royal Caribbean offers some of the biggest and best ships around.

On a Royal Caribbean cruise, you’ll enjoy onboard activities like waterslides, zip-lining, bumper cars, and rock climbing. You’ll be able to dine at one of the many included restaurants, or you can choose a specialty restaurant like Giovanni’s Table, Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver, or Johnny Rockets.

After a long day at sea, you’ll rest comfortably in your stateroom, whether you choose a Virtual Balcony room or opt for luxury in a Royal Class Suite. Plus you’ll earn perks and bonuses each time you cruise as a member of the Crown & Anchor Society.

Royal Caribbean offers cruises to over 300 destinations, so no matter what part of the world you want to visit, chances are you can get there on a cruise.

The information regarding the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best ship on Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean’s biggest and best ships are the Oasis Class ships — Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas. However, the new Icon of the Seas which will debut in 2024, is set to be the biggest cruise ship in the world.

How much are drink packages on Royal Caribbean?

Beverage package prices on Royal Caribbean vary based on length of cruise and your itinerary. Here’s a look at what kind of pricing you can expect:

  • Deluxe Beverage Package (includes alcohol): $63 to $89 per day
  • Refreshment Package (includes soda, coffee, mocktails, juices, and water): $29 to $38 per day
  • Soda-only package: $12.99 to $15 per day

What is Royal Caribbean's newest ship?

The newest ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet is currently Wonder of the Seas. However, there are 2 new ships debuting in 2024: Icon of the Seas and Utopia of the Seas.

Is food free on Royal Caribbean?

Yes, Royal Caribbean has multiple dining venues on each ship that are included in the price of the cruise so you don’t have to pay anything extra onboard. There are also specialty restaurants that charge extra.

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About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Fortune Recommends.

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