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Your guide to Royal Caribbean cruises: What you need to know about the cruise line

Author: Susan Johnson

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Royal Caribbean cruises promise more than just a holiday, taking you on an immersive cultural journey, a culinary expedition, and a full-blown epic family adventure that everyone will enjoy.

Royal Caribbean cruise ship classes behold a world of their own onboard. The line’s biggest ships are nearly 20 percent bigger than almost all other cruise vessels across the world.

They hold restaurants, bars, entertainment zones and attractions you will struggle to find elsewhere at sea.

On Royal Caribbean’s biggest ships, you will find multiple pool areas, rock climbing walls, water play zones, miniature golf courses, surfing simulators, basketball courts and even zip lines. When it comes to the interior area, there is everything from full-size spas to large casinos and Broadway-quality theatres.

A few Royal Caribbean ships even feature ice skating rinks!

If that seems surreal, then check this out: The biggest Royal Caribbean ships are around 1,200 feet long, 18 decks high, and capable of carrying 6,800 passengers. In simple words, Royal Caribbean ships are floating megaresorts.

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Royal Caribbean fleet

Royal Caribbean has 24 ships and is the world’s largest cruise line by passenger capacity. Of its 25 ships, five are the world’s largest cruise vessels – Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Oasis of the Seas. Each of these vessels is capable of holding over 6,600 passengers. Together known as the Oasis Class, they are similar in design and are unparalleled when it comes to size and amenities.

Wonder of the Seas joined the fleet in May 2022. This vessel will be nearly four percent larger than Symphony of the Seas, making it the biggest cruise ship on the sea.

Nonetheless, the Oasis Class Ships are not the only massive vessels in the Royal Caribbean fleet. There exist five Quantum Class ships and three Freedom Class ships with total capacities of around 4,500 to 5,600 passengers. Add those in, and the Royal Caribbean holds 12 of the 25 biggest cruise ships in the world.

- READ MORE: Wonder of the Seas cruise ship in facts & figures -

The smaller vessels operated by the line are included under the Voyager Class. Each can hold around 3,800 passengers at maximum occupancy. Together, the Oasis, Quantum, Freedom, and Voyager Class vessels form the Royal Caribbean’s large fleet.

The remaining eight vessels are relatively smaller with an occupancy of 2,500 passengers and are split into two classes. Through these smaller ships, Royal Caribbean offers itineraries to places that aren’t easily accessible for big ships. For instance, not all ports in the world can accommodate the size of the Symphony of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean's ships have fun activities onboard for you to enjoy before reaching your next destination. Credit: Shutterstock

Royal Caribbean cruises: Destinations and itineraries

Royal Caribbean cruises sail to almost all corners of the world. However, its heaviest presence is felt in the Caribbean and Europe. During summer, nearly half of the line’s fleet sails to the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda, while six or seven ships sail to Europe. Only three to four ships are sent to Alaska every summer.

Royal Caribbean cruises to Asia and Australia happen during the winter, but more of its ship sail to the Caribbean even then.

- READ MORE: Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas sets sail -

Recently, Royal Caribbean has started deploying ships to China. One of its newest ships, Spectrum of the Seas, has taken Chinese travellers out of Tianjin and Shanghai.

Royal Caribbean ships from North America generally sail out of Port Canaveral, Port Miami, Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, or Tampa in Florida. In 2021, the line introduced sailing out of Barbados.

Royal Caribbean ships sail to and from ports all over the world. Credit: Shutterstock

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Royal Caribbean: What to know before you go

Gratuities

Guests on Royal Caribbean cruises are billed an automatic service gratuity of around £11 to £13 per person, depending on your cabin category. You will be able to tweak the amount you pay in gratuities if you are unhappy with the service you receive before embarking. Furthermore, an 18 percent gratuity is added to bills for bars, minibars, salons and spas.

Dress code

There is no specific dress code during the day. You can wear any casual attire of your choice. For instance, if you are headed to a warm-weather destination, and it’s a sea day where you are bound for the top deck, choose something like shorts, t-shirts, and bathing suits, along with a cover-up to go inside.

Royal Caribbean Cruises do have an official dress code for evenings, but this only applies to guests who enter the main dining room. One of the three dress codes – casual, smart casual, or formal – applies on any given night.

- READ MORE: What to know about Royal Caribbean ship cabins -

Casual means you can sport jeans, polo shirts, and sundresses, whereas smart casual requires you to step out in collared shirts, dresses, skirts, blouses or trouser suits. Formal nights mean suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses and evening gowns.

Wi-Fi

Of all the cruise lines, Royal Caribbean offers one of the fastest Wi-Fi systems at sea. Pricing changes frequently, but the most recent pricing listed on their website was roughly £13 per day per device for a package that includes streaming. You will also be able to find multi-device packages that are less expensive on a per-device basis.

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