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Credit: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean: Everything you need to know about innovative cruise line

Author: Sophie Chichester

Published on:

Royal Caribbean is a hugely popular cruise line and has become known for leading the way with jaw-dropping ships and unforgettable cruises.

Royal Caribbean boasts a whopping 26 ships, all of which are packed with the most high-tech fun at sea.

Whether you're after a romantic getaway or an adventure-packed family trip, the cruise line has something up its sleeve for you.

Food and drinks options are extensive, onboard activities range from surfing to skydiving and all manner of incredible entertainment wows audiences.

Here we explore the history of Royal Caribbean and examine the highlight of the line's most popular ships, including Anthem of the Seas.

A brief history of Royal Caribbean

1968 - Royal Caribbean International (originally Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines) is founded by three Norwegian ship owners

1970 - First cruise ship Song of Norway is launched

1976 - After adding two more ships to its fleet, Royal Caribbean lengthens Song of Norway by 85 feet

1982 - Song of America launches - the third-largest passenger ship at sea with a capacity of just over 1,500 people

1988 - Sovereign of the Seas - the first mega-ship of the modern cruising era - launches. At 70,000 tons, it's almost twice the size of Song of America.

In the same year, Royal Caribbean buys Little Stirrup Cay, an island in the Bahamas, transforming it into private destination "CocoCay."

1993 - Royal Caribbean goes public on the New York Stock Exchange

1995 - Legend of the Seas launches - the most luxurious ship Royal Caribbean has built so far

1999 - Voyager of the Seas launches - the first ship that feels more like a resort than a ship and dwarfs every other mega-ship

2004 to 2007 - Royal Caribbean spends millions refurbishing older ships

2009 - Oasis of the Seas launches - the biggest cruise ship the world has ever seen - weighing 225,282-tons and able to carry 5,400-passengers

2015 - Anthem of the Seas debuts

2020 - Odyssey of the Seas launches

2022 - The first Project Icon ship is scheduled to launch

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Royal Caribbean transformed an island in the Bahamas into private destination "CocoCay." Credit: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean fleet

There are currently 26 cruise ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet:

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

Climbing wall
A towering climbing wall is just activity to keep you busy on select Royal Caribbean cruises. Credit: Royal Caribbean

Stand out ships include Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas - this is what you need to know about the vessels.

Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas was the world’s largest cruise ship for six years (before sister ship Harmony of the Seas took the title). She sails to the Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean and Western Mediterranean at ports of call such as Valencia, Barbados and Naples.

Guests can choose from four cabin categories: Interior, Ocean View, Balcony and Virtual Balcony. Expect the best Wi-Fi at sea, friendly staff and 24-hour room service.

As for onboard pursuits, there are shopping opportunities aplenty along with action-packed activities including the Zip Line and mini golf while the award-winning Adventure Ocean Youth Programme will keep children happy.

Entertainment includes Broadway shows plus endless occasions to party and karaoke.

Restaurants to look out for are Coastal Kitchen, a Mediterranean fusion restaurant offering an à la carte menu, and Samba Grill, a Brazilian steakhouse.

Guests can keep fit with the plethora of sports classes available, from hip hop sessions to archery lessons.

Get on board: Six-night Western Caribbean from £1,494pp

Anthem of the Seas

Anthem of the Seas is the second ship in Royal Caribbean’s ground-breaking Quantum Class and the eighth-largest cruise ship in the world. She sails to a host of beautiful destinations.

The hotel at sea provides unrivalled family suites, a variety of staterooms, 28 studio cabins - 12 of which boast balconies (perfect for solo travellers), and seven categories of suites.

Activities are unparalleled. The SeaPlex is a one-stop shop for fun activities, boasting the first-ever dodgems at sea, a Circus School and full-sized sports courts. Other experiences are North Star, a glass capsule that offers 360-degree panoramic views sure to take your breath away and the exhilarating skydiving simulator.

There are also two outdoor pools, four bubbly whirlpools, a tranquil adults-only solarium and even a poolside cinema screen.

As for entertainment, catch the record-breaking West End musical, We Will Rock You, at the magnificent Royal Court Theatre, dance the night away at the Music Hall, head to the casino, or check out Puzzle Break if you're after a mental challenge.

A spa and state-of-the-art gym can also be found onboard.

There are 18 dining venues onboard Anthem of the Seas. The Grande is perfect for formal nights, Sorrento’s puts a Caribbean twist on New York-style pizza while Izumi serves up made-to-order sushi, to name just a few eateries.

Get on board: 14-night 2022 No-Fly Mediterranean Cities from £2,363pp

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Royal Caribbean: Catch the record-breaking West End musical, We Will Rock You, on Anthem of the Seas. Credit: Royal Caribbean

Grandeur of the Seas

Grandeur of the Seas was originally launched in 1995 and went through a $48 million refurbishment in 2012, giving the perfect blend of modern luxuries with classic tradition. She sails the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

There are four different stateroom categories onboard, each receiving the luxury of 24-hour room service. All suites include a balcony, as well as unlimited use of the Concierge, and access to the Concierge Club serving complimentary pre-dinner canapes and cocktails.

Grandeur of the Seas guests can keep themselves busy by visiting the Art and Photo Gallery, soaking in the sun by either of the two pools or six whirlpools, checking out the video arcade or enjoying a book from the library. Not to mention enjoying a drink in the many bars and lounges.

Passengers won't be short on entertainment, either. Enjoy a professional quality production in the Palladium Theatre where you can settle in with awe-inspiring performances from renditions of ‘Hairspray’ to gravity-defying aerobatics; visit the smaller South Pacific Lounge for cabaret acts and late-night, adult only comedy acts; increase your strength on the rock-climbing wall; or take your chances in the casino.

As for relaxation, the Vitality Spa is a sanctuary for rest or you can work up a sweat in the well-equipped Fitness Centre.

Dining options are extensive: The Great Gatsby Dining Room is the perfect venue for an elegant and refined meal; Windjammer Café is buffet-style serving both hot and cold delights; Chops Grille is a traditional steakhouse and there's a much-appreciated Ben and Jerry’s ice cream stand.

Get on board: Five-night Western Caribbean from £558pp

Symphony of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world and sails the Caribbean.

There are a plethora of different cabins to suit every budget and requirement, whether you're looking to save money with a loved one or splurge with the whole family. The best cabin of all is the Star Loft Suite - it's a two-level contemporary loft with impeccable space and view.

Activities on Symphony of the Seas are thrilling, to say the least - the ship is packed with deck-defying attractions including the ten-story test of courage, Ultimate Abyss, and twin FlowRider surf simulators, plus revolutionary new firsts, such as glow-in-the-dark laser tag.

Why not head to the spa and fitness centre or do some shopping during the day and then settle in for the night at Bionic Bar, complete with two robotic bartenders, enjoy a Hairspray performance, or feels the chills at an ice-skating show?

As for dining, this hotel at sea is loaded with delicious new ways to tempt your taste buds – such as the matchday game-changing Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade. Alternatively, head to Hooked Seafood for just-shucked oysters and other coastal classics or treat yourself to your favourite sweet treats at Sugar Beach. There's also a Jamie's Italian and Starbucks onboard plus other Royal Caribbean favourites, Chops Grille, Windjammer and more.

Get on board: Seven-night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day from £755pp

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Symphony of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world and sails the Caribbean. Credit: Royal Caribbean

Wonder of the Seas

Wonder of the Seas is the latest ship to join the Royal Caribbean International fleet and sails to Japan. Hike in the foothills of Mount Fuji during an extended visit in Shimizu or explore Tokyo’s traditional side in the historic Asakusa district on a Wonder of the Seas cruise.

Cabins span from the cosy Connecting Interior rooms right up to the vast suites. One of the very best is the Ultimate Family Suite where you benefit from your very own in-suite slide, an air hockey table and table tennis on your balcony.

Of course, even if you don't bag this cabin, you're not short of thrills onboard. China’s first Oasis Class ship is proudly home to the tallest slide at sea, Ultimate Abyss.

Also onboard is open-air Central Park which is lined with upmarket boutiques and elevated restaurants where you can enjoy some retail therapy. Meanwhile, The Boardwalk is home to a newly reimagined AquaTheater, iconic hand-carved merry-go-round, wow-worthy sea views and plenty of tasty bites – including gourmet hot dogs.

If you're staying in a suite you can head to the all-new Suite Neighbourhood where guests will enjoy the most exclusive experiences and amenities in a one-of-a-kind elevated retreat. Be sure to indulge in five-star dining at the suites-only Coastal Kitchen where global dishes are made with the freshest, highest-quality ingredients.

Get on board: Five-night Okinawa & Ishigaki from £789pp

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