An Introduction to: Royal Caribbean Cruises
January 4, 2016
You’ll most likely have heard of Royal Caribbean and their innovative cruise line that holds a youthful take on the cruising experience. They’ve produced spectacular ships that have been defying belief since the Song of Norway was launched in 1968 (any fact fans out there may be interested to know that they didn’t adopt the ‘of the Seas’ moniker for their ships until 1991). Now travelling to over 240 destinations with up to 5,400 passengers at a time, they aim to push the limits of what is possible at sea, to give you not just a cruise but the holiday of a lifetime, every time. Not to mention their newest ship, Harmony of the Seas, is the world’s largest cruise ship…now we don’t know about you but that’s something we have to say we’ve been on!
Known for bringing plenty of ‘firsts’ to the industry and boasting a fleet of twenty three ships with seven different classes to meet even the most demanding of holiday-goers needs, Royal Caribbean are the perfect cruise line for first time cruisers. Below is a quick guide to the different classes – which get bigger the further down the list you go!
Sovereign Class: Majesty of the Seas
Is there a ‘typical’ Royal Caribbean cruiser?
If you’re tired of the regular package holidays, if you love to travel or if you’re seeking adventure, extreme sports or just want a holiday with a difference – then Royal Caribbean have the cruise for you!
They are ideal for anyone, whether you’re a first timer or an experienced cruiser, couple, group, family or solo traveller and they’ll deliver a modern, energetic and entertaining glimpse of the cruising world every time. You may not have considered cruising before but Royal Caribbean will convince you that it’s the perfect holiday to take and dispel any common misconceptions about cruising!
Royal Caribbean cruises don’t leave you feeling restricted on the ship as they give you the freedom to enjoy truly entertaining facilities. The trip is just as much about the on-board experience as it is about the ports that you visit (in fact lots of people never even get off in port at all if you can believe that- the ships are that good!)
The typical Royal Caribbean traveller is someone that loves to explore, get involved in activities and spend their holiday enjoying life to the max.
We know the stereotype of cruise style entertainment is to be sitting around playing bingo or listening to bad cabaret (at least according to Simon Cowell it is anyway) and whilst that’s never true, it’s especially not the case on Royal Caribbean as you can enjoy a vast variety of on-board activities! Their cruises are equivalent to four or five star all-inclusive holidays on land yet for the same money you can get so much more!
Activities vary from ship to ship but all have something spectacular to offer. The newest ships (Quantum class) offer the most advanced entertainment on the seas, with everything from an iFly sky diving simulator to The North Star, (a jewel shaped pod that ascends more than three hundred feet above sea level to give you an incredible 360-degree view of ship and sea.)
If that’s not enough for you, other features include SeaPlex, the world’s largest active space at sea, which contains bumper cars, roller skating and even a circus school.
Have you ever sat on a cruise and thought it was missing a few trees?
Of course you have but don’t worry because Oasis class ships all include Central Park – a tropical on-board ‘oasis’ (see where they got the name from now?) with real trees, lush greenery and alfresco dining options. They also have an aqua theatre and amphitheatre at sea which seats seven hundred people to watch dazzling high dive water shows.
Other entertainment highlights include an ice skating rink (Oasis, Freedom and Voyager classes) or the Flow Rider surf simulator (present on Quantum, Oasis, Freedom and Voyager classes.) If you really need a break from the kids, then take some time out in the adult only Solarium which is present on every class apart from Sovereign.
Fancy a bit of razzle dazzle? Then catch a West End show with a production of Chicago on Allure of the Seas or watch Hairspray on Oasis of the Seas or Grease on Harmony of the Seas.
For all you sport lovers the majority of ships offer mini-golf and Freedom class ships even offer a full sized Everlast boxing ring! Arguing with your partner? Don’t worry – just ask them down to the boxing ring! (We joke)
Quantum class’ new SeaPlex also offers a variety of sports courts and Oasis class offer H20 Zone water parks, which are children’s water play zones full of water cannons, pools, colourful sculptures and fountains so they’ll never be bored.
All classes of ships have both indoor and outdoor pools, a rock climbing wall, a casino, nightclub, library and whirlpools. With good shopping facilities, promenade parades and outdoor movie theatres – you’ll almost need to plan your days to make sure you don’t miss anything out!
It’s not all go-go-go though! If you want to relax at the Vitality spa, have a good workout at the gym or have a quiet swim in an adult only pool – you can. There are many more ways to spend your time than you think on-board a Royal Caribbean so whichever ship you pick, you’ll be impressed!
Did you know? The theatre productions showcased on-board take up to twelve months to develop before they ever even see the inside of a ship!
If you’re worried about being away from the luxuries of land and are the type of person that can’t be away from Facebook or branded coffee then fear not, because you can still access Wi-Fi, eat sushi, drink Starbucks and even watch live sport on satellite TV.
Did you know? You can even make your friends at home jealous by sending an E-postcard from the ship with personalised photos of you and your journey.
You can visit many different countries without having to take a series of different flights or having to endure unpacking and repacking and all the excursion activities can be planned for you!
Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas sail from Southampton which can be handy for those that don’t like flying and there won’t be any airline style restrictions on luggage either!
Royal Caribbean can also cater for wheelchair access and oxygen tank or dialysis needs.
Quantum class ships also have six different ‘smart’ features, including smart check in (which will cut your boarding time down to ten minutes) and smart concierge (so that you can make and change your restaurant reservations online.) If that’s not enough to impress you then how about their smart experiences – which features a bionic bar with robot bar tenders that mix cocktails that guests have ordered off an iPad! You can learn more about Royal Caribbean’s robotic bar here
There are also plenty of handy added extras available such as late checkout on departure day and a points system to save towards benefits every time you travel.
Did you know? The Independence of the Seas offers a topless sunbathing deck. The San Tropez deck is a little known risqué spot – so if you can’t find your husband on-board you might want to have a quick check on here first…
Gone are the days on a cruise when you had to be tied to one restaurant at a certain time every day if you didn’t want to be (at least with Royal Caribbean)! With this cruise line there are a variety of dining options available for you…
Select My Time Dining to have the flexibility to choose what time you’ll dine in the main restaurant each evening. If you wanted the more traditional dining experience then you can still choose first or second dining times. Pre-paid drinks packages are also available to keep the cost of your holiday down – because those cocktails can really add up (at least they do when we’re on holiday!)
The rumoured introduction of Rotational Dining on Anthem of the Seas will allow guests to dine in a different restaurant every night, in a rotational style, so they can get a bit of everything! Perfect for guests that want more variety. As we reported here…
Another new Royal Caribbean innovation is Dynamic Dining introduced on-board Quantum of the Seas in October ‘14, which gives visitors a whopping choice of eighteen tantalising dining options, with everything from pub food to Jamie’s Italian.
The top end of these restaurants is Chef’s Table: an exclusive dining experience for sixteen guests hosted by an executive chef who will explain each dish and accompanying wine choice.
If you aren’t feeling that fancy then other favourites include Giovanni’s Table, which serves Italian, or the Solarium Bistro. If you want something more casual still, then try the Seafood Shack or try the Windjammer café (available on all ships) which offers buffet style dining with a wide range of choice.
Additional dining options also include the ever popular Asian Fusion restaurant Izumi (on selected ships) and the Sabor Modern Mexican restaurant on-board the Navigator of the Seas, which additionally has a lip-smacking range of tequilas, margaritas and Mexican beers.
If you have the munchies after late night revelling then you can enjoy a slice of Pizza from Sorrento’s, which is open until Midnight on Quantum of the Seas. For a quick daytime snack, you can grab a donut from Boardwalk Donuts aboard Quantum class ships or you could indulge on a Ben and Jerry’s – available on the majority of ships!
Did you know? If you’re feeling worn out from all the excursions and activities then you could even just order some room service, which is available on any ship, 24 hours a day, free of charge (except between midnight and 5am when there’s a $3.95 charge for late night orders)!
Royal Caribbean is perfect for families with its range of available services because luxury doesn’t have to mean adult only! Family dining options make sure everyone has something they like, with kids diner favourite Johnny Rockets (available on Oasis, Quantum, Freedom and Voyager class ships), an American style diner and Cupcake Cupboard (available on Quantum, Oasis and Freedom), selling, you guessed it – Cupcakes!
If childcare is an issue, rest assured that Royal Caribbean have an award winning youth and teen programme, Adventure Ocean, which caters to children from three months right through to seventeen years old.
Staff are all trained in childcare at university level and have at least three years’ experience of working with children. There are seven different types of care available, to make sure your child’s needs are met. Kids clubs include Adventure Ocean: Aquanauts for three-five year olds; Adventure Ocean: Explorers for six-eight year olds; Adventure Ocean: Voyagers for nine-eleven year olds and the teen groups are split into ages of twelve-fourteen and fifteen-seventeen. We asked a teacher to critique Royal Caribbean’s kids facilities and you can read her thoughts here.
Children can enjoy day-care with workshops and facilities that are a blend of education and play, with workshops including Adventure Art, Science and Theatre. Teens make the most of their own exclusive lounge Fuel to hang out with their new friends and play video games. Their activities include learning how to DJ, themed dance parties and casino nights. Selected ships also have babysitting available (Sitters at Sea), as well as Royal Tots and Royal Baby schemes.
Different kinds of accommodation are available to suit different families, with new, interconnecting staterooms available on Quantum class, to give families that extra bit of space. Royal Caribbean also understand that packing to travel with a baby can mean bulging suitcases of nappies and bottles, so now there is even a service, “Babies 2 Go” to order organic baby food, formula or nappies so you don’t have to take it all with you!
Lastly, shore excursions are available to cater for children of all ages. For example, a visit to Royal Caribbean’s private Island (yes! They have their own private island in the Caribbean!), CocoCay, offers beach parties, games of volleyball, and a hermit crab hunt; fun for all the family!
Did you know? Allure, Oasis, Freedom, Liberty, Voyager and Mariner of the Seas offer the DreamWorks experience, meaning that children can dine with their favourite characters from Shrek, Madagascar, King Fu Panda and many more. These characters also feature in aqua shows, ice shows and are available for photo opportunities. And of course – these films are shown in 3D theatres on-board where available!
Gratuities are an extra something on cruises that you need to consider when planning your trip. The guideline for tips on board Royal Caribbean is an amount between $12-$14 a day depending on your accommodation.
A 15% gratuity will be automatically added to your bar bill, wine bill or when you use a spa or salon. It is possible to pre-pay your gratuities before you go, which can help you budget your money in advance and can also make your experience more seamless. It can sometimes even work out cheaper in the long run to pre-pay due to fluctuating exchange rates on board. You can learn more about cruise line tippling polices here.
Royal Caribbean isn’t as formal as other cruise lines and during the day the dress code is entirely relaxed. However, for evening activities and selected dining venues (check the Cruise Compass – Royal Caribbean’s daily magazine which will be delivered to your stateroom each morning whilst on-board to find out which!) you will need a selection of casual, smart casual and formal clothes.
Casual clothes count as polo shirts and trousers for men or sundresses, trousers, skirts and blouses for women. Smart casual would include a blazer/ jacket, tie or open shirt for men and would include dresses or trouser suits for women. Formal nights are not mandatory but they give everyone the chance to dress up in glamorous style! If you would like to attend them then you will need to wear a dinner jacket/ tuxedo or a cocktail dress. Tuxedo rentals are available on-board for you to wear to formal dinners or special occasions. You can learn more about dress codes in our handy comparison guide here.
Did you know? There is even a Barbie Experience available for girls aged four-eleven on Majesty and Enchantment of the Seas. It includes mermaid dance lessons, a signature pink state room package (including goodies), a fashion designer workshop and a fashion show. So remember to pack some pink clothes for your kids!
Royal Caribbean go the extra mile to meet the needs of their customers and keep the whole family entertained. If you want action, adventure, and an entirely new holiday experience, than Royal Caribbean are the cruise line for you! If we’ve wetted your appetite and you want to learn more about Royal Caribbean (or maybe even book a cruise with them,) then you can do so here.
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