Active Cruisers, no matter what age. Royal Caribbean has something for everyone: rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, FlowRider surfing simulators, bungee trampolines — and active excursions such as biking and scuba-diving.
Large Ship Lovers. Royal Caribbean cruise line boasts the world’s largest cruises ships.
Families. While Royal Caribbean cruise lines entire fleet offers family friendly facilities, its newest ships, Liberty of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas and Independence of the Seas feature family suites that can sleep up to 14. Kids and teens’ programs also are offered.
Fitness Freaks. Work up a sweat in Royal Caribbean’s expansive ShipShape Fitness Centers. Use of the facility is free of charge. Energetic exercise classes, such as Spin, Yoga and Pilates, are offered for a small fee.
Destination Collectors. Cruising to more than 170 destinations worldwide, Royal Caribbean reaches out to vacationers who want to try something new — whether that’s glacier-trekking in Alaska; cave-tubing in Belize, biking through the vineyards of Dubrovnik or experiencing the wonders of China.
Royal Caribbean - Cruise Line and Cruise Ship Reviews
The cruise line most of us know as simply "Royal Caribbean" was once known as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, until they outgrew the Caribbean and started cruising in Europe and other parts of the world. They then decided they needed to rebrand the company, and instead of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line their official name became Royal Caribbean International. Few refer to them by their full name. "Royal Caribbean" or "Royal Caribbean Cruise Line" are the names by which this cruise line, which so many repeat passengers have come to enjoy as part of their annual vacation, is commonly known.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line once started in the 1970's by building the first new ships for Caribbean cruising. They have continued that heritage, and have for the past two decades been building the world's largest cruise ships. It seems every time one thinks a cruise ship cannot possibly get any bigger, Royal Caribbean wants to prove that they can build an even bigger and better one. Perhaps now, with the twin giants
Oasis of the Seas and
Allure of the Seas clocking in at 220,000 tons and a passenger capacity of more than 6,000 people, they have finally reached the limit?
So what is it that Royal Caribbean does to be so popular? In the beginning they were only known for having the most modern ships, having the best service, and going to the most popular Caribbean ports. From that basic concept of cruising, Royal Caribbean cruise ships have evolved into being their own destinations.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships
Royal Caribbean's cruise ships come in six different "classes". New cruise ships are usually ordered from shipyards as a series of cruise ships of similar design. This helps keep the cost of construction down. Cruise ship "classes" are used to describe such series of similarly designed ships. Today, when you cruise on Royal Caribbean you will find that these six classes can be grouped into three distinctly different types of cruise ships.
Royal Caribbean Tradition - Sovereign and Vision Class Ships
First there are the Sovereign and Vision class of cruise ships. These ships were built to the traditional standards of Royal Caribbean. Today they are used on itineraries such as short cruises to the Bahamas, and as groundbreakers on new itineraries around the world.
Royal Caribbean Big Ship Revolution - Voyager, Freedom and Oasis Class Ships
After the Vision class came the revolutionary Voyager class of cruise ships. Suddenly cruise ships had not just atriums, but four story gallerias running the length of the ship, with shops, bars and cafés lining the lower level of the "Royal Promenade" as the galleria became known. But that was not all. On the higher levels of the Royal Promenade there were now cabins with windows facing the galleria! The Voyager class ships also introduced the first rock-climbing walls and full mini golf courts on cruise ships.
The Freedom and Oasis classes were further evolutions of the Voyager class, with more new ideas of what cruising can be about. The Freedom class cruise ships introduced things such as live surfing on the top deck of the ships. The Oasis class took on the entire idea of the galleria, and brought that concept to the next level. On the Oasis class ships there is one indoor galleria, and then the same idea continues outdoors on the higher decks. The result is a ship that is really two ships. There are balcony cabins with oceanview along the sides of the ship, but there are now almost as many balcony cabins with an inner courtyard view! Those in the aft part of the ship have a view of the Boardwalk, and those in the forward part have a view of Central Park, a real park with live trees and plants.
The "Oasis" class has the world's largest cruise ships. These 220,000 ton giant ships are by far the largest in the world, the spectacular
Oasis of the Seas, and the
Allure of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean Elegance - Radiance Class Ships
Being an international cruise line, Royal Caribbean decided they also needed some cruise ships for those experienced cruise passengers who prefer more leisurely cruises than found on the larger Royal Caribbean ships. This is where the beautiful ships of the Radiance class came in. You will find Radiance class ships cruising the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Alaska in the summer, with all the quality and service one has come to expect from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
Dining on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships
Dining on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line can be Traditional Dining, "My Time" Dining, or dining on one of the specialty restaurants. The preferred type of dining is selected at time of booking, subject to availability. Lunch and dinner are also available buffet style in the Windjammer Café.
Traditional dining in the main restaurants with 1st and 2nd seatings at assigned tables means that one dines at the same time and the same table every night. The benefit of this is that one meets other passengers and can make new friends. The 1st seating starts around 6:00 p.m., and 2nd seating around 8:15 p.m. (times may vary by ship and itinerary, but please note that dinner service begins promptly at posted times).
"My Time" dining is available on all Royal Caribbean cruise ships. It should be emphasized that it is important to select this type of dining at time of booking, because if one has selected the traditional dining it is not possible to change to "My Time" once onboard the ship. My Time Dining means that, just like at a restaurant ashore, you can dine in the main dining room any time between 6:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (times vary by ship). Reservations are recommended, and can be made onboard the ship.
The open seating option is definitely on its way to becoming the most popular dining option, and not only on Royal Caribbean cruises. For larger parties traveling together, and for families with small children the traditional 1st and 2nd seating is still the best option. For everyone else it depends on personal preferences. Just remember that on Royal Caribbean "My Time" dining cannot be selected once onboard the ship. It has to be selected at time of booking.
Oasis, Freedom, Voyager and Radiance class ships also offer one or more exclusive specialty restaurants for special evenings. Reservations are recommended, and a nominal fee applies.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's production shows in the showlounges are perhaps the best Broadway spectacles you will find on any cruise ships anywhere. World class performers from countries all over the world star in a wide range of shows, from contemporary stage productions and Las Vegas style shows, to headline musical acts and comedy shows. In addition to a different main show each evening, you can enjoy the rhytm of the night with live music in Royal Caribbean's many colorful and exciting bars and lounges.
Cabins and Suites on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships
Royal Caribbean's cabins are among the best one can find, with spacious, thoughtful and comfortable design. Amenties in all cabins include luxury bedding, refrigerator, extensive satellite TV programming, and complimentary room service (late night service charge applies).
On a weeklong Caribbean cruise balcony cabins and suites are especially comfortable for private relaxation on your private balcony during lazy days at sea.
Free Onboard Credits On All Ships
With our Free Onboard Credit up to $200 per cabin promotion, planning a Royal Caribbean cruise is easy. The free onboard credit promotion applies to all Royal Caribbean ships and itineraries, and is combinable with all other promotions.
The Bonus Icon
When you search for Royal Caribbean cruises, you will see the search results marked with a Bonus icon. It is a good idea to click on it to check for occasional bonus promotions, in addition to the Free Onboard Credits.
Find The Best Cruise Deals On Royal Caribbean
Find the best cruise deals by using the search box at the upper left hand to do a general search for the best Royal Caribbean cruise deals, or to narrow down your search to specific destinations or cruise ships. The results are in order of lowest price. Do remember to browse the results for great deals on balconies and suites. When you see a "Bonus" button in the search results, click on it to see valuable extras. Bookings made online are booked on the cruise line's computer, and payments are made directly to the cruise line.
Note: Dreamworks characters are available exclusively on Allure of the Seas from 12/10/2010, Oasis of the Seas from 2/26/2011, Freedom of the Seas from 3/27/2011, and Liberty of the Seas from 1/30/2011.
Family Cruising: Royal Caribbean’s Freedom Class Cruise Ships
by Ralph Grizzle. An award-winning travel writer, and recognized cruise ship expert.
Cruises For Kids And Teens
Kids of all ages who love the whiz-bang of the latest technologies will absolutely adore the Freedom-class ships from Royal Caribbean.
Freedom of the Seas,
Liberty of the Seas and
Independence of the Seas represent state of the cruising art, sure to impress the kid in all of us with a whole host of amenities and features that run from the now-expected-of-Royal Caribbean rock-climbing walls to an interactive water park and two adults-only hot tubs that are cantilevered 12 feet out from the side of the ship for a hot soak with a dramatic view. With programs for five age groups of kids and teens, Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean, for kids 3 years to 17 years, gets consistently high marks for its family friendly approach. Providing fun learning opportunities about local customs, with some cool science experiments too, Adventure Ocean separates kids by age, with dedicated facilities for each group. Royal Caribbean also offers interactive play time for kids 6 – 36 months.
Family Friendly Cruises
It’s nice for the kids to hang out with their own age group, but Royal Caribbean Cruise Line recognizes that not all families are looking for separation. Activities for kids and parents include karaoke, talent shows, bingo tournaments and the family disco. And there are family friendly competitions on the famous rock wall or the mini-golf course.
The FlowRider Surf Park is surf simulator, sort of a perpetual wave where you can try to hang ten. Wipeouts aren’t painful, and the less adventurous can use a body board.
Keep’em Happy - No Shuffleboard, Dad!
Extended versions of popular Voyager-class ships, the Freedom-class cruise ships are the most innovative in the Royal Caribbean fleet of megaliners, and it would take a seriously bad mood to claim that there is nothing to do. And if anyone gets too truculent, ship them off to the full-size boxing ring, where they can get lessons and even do some sparring.
Early Bird Bookings - Timing is everything
It’s pretty predictable when the ships will be full of families – just look at the school calendar. The best timing for families has more to do with when you book your cruise than when you go: The early bird definitely gets first crack at the staterooms and sailings that families find most desireable.
You will be sharing these ships with 4,200 of your best friends, but being twice as large as the biggest ships 10 or 12 years ago, Royal Caribbean's Freedom Class cruise ships provide plenty of elbow room in the vast and plentiful public spaces.
An entirely new addition is the H2O Zone—an expansive area fitted with a kids’ pool, water cannons and abstract colorful sculpture fountains that shoot water in entertaining and unpredictable directions, partially controlled by passengers who want to get soaked or start a water war.
Best Cruise Ship Family Dining
For fun family fare, it’s tough to beat Johnny Rockets for a burger, fries and a shake. If you are having too much fun to leave the pool deck, the Solarium pool has a cafe dispensing pizzas, while the self-serve Sprinkles provides frozen yogurt. If looking for a healthier drink options, there is the Squeeze selling various fruit drinks.
With a generous number of family friendly staterooms, including suites that can sleep up to 14 people, and adrenaline-pumping features, Royal Caribbean’s Freedom class cruise ships are perfect for families who really want to abide the cruise line’s slogan to “get out there!”
An Act Of Freedom: Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas
by Ralph Grizzle. An award-winning travel writer, and recognized cruise ship expert.
Note: This review is for the Independence of the Seas, one of three "Freedom Class" cruise ships. The other are Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.Freedom begins in the Personal Karaoke Booth. At least it did for me. That’s where I was freed from my inhibitions to loudly belt out the lyrics being displayed on a screen in front of me. I had always wanted to perform karaoke but had never mustered the courage to do so in front of an audience. One of two intimate karaoke booths on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas (one of the line’s “Freedom class” vessels) was the perfect compromise for a closet crooner who would be mortified should anyone hear him. The experience was not unlike singing in the shower, using a bar of soap for the microphone, but without the discomfort of having to undress to perform.
The song I chose was “Dancing Queen.” Like many other passengers at this late hour, I was still humming the lyrics after leaving the 1,350-seat Alhambra Theatre where AbbaCadabra had performed. The Abba tribute band put on perhaps the best performance I have seen in my 20 years of cruising, particularly judging by audience response. The final song the U.S.-based band performed for the evening, Dancing Queen, was met by an entire room that stood and danced — and didn’t want to leave.
But alas we did leave, and most of us headed to Studio ’84, where “flashback to the 1980s” started just after midnight. Studio ’84 was jammed packed with those attending what can only be described as a mix between a rock concert and dance party. On stage, an oversized screen displayed videos, as animators performed both on stage and in the audience to get the party started. A sea of happy faces, including mine, sang the words to the familiar feel-good songs.
Ice, Ice Baby
The evening before, Studio ’84 was transformed to Center Ice, used to stage the original show Independence Ice. It is absolutely mind-boggling to imagine such a performance at sea, but the show on ice was so beautifully choreographed and executed that I forgot I was on a ship.
I had the same feeling at the Royal Promenade, where in the late afternoon, I watched the Madhatter’s Ball Parade. The colorful chorus of performers parading down the street set a happy tone for the evening. Photo flashes pulsed from cameras held by passengers playing paparazzi on either side of the promenade. A second parade later in the week, “Olympus Rocks,” featured characters from Greek Mythology and a Rock-n-Roll soundtrack.
Even without a parade, the Royal Promenade is quite remarkable in that a stroll from one end to the other is like a mini-tour of main street Europe. Walking from one end to the other, I passed Sorrento’s, an Italian trattoria/pizzeria; an English pub called The Dog & Badger; Café Promenade, a French-style bistro/street café; a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream parlor; and thankfully, as I was parched from the long walk, a champagne bar.
The Royal Promenade is a destination in itself, with a barber shop, boutiques, a wine bar and more.
Family Friendly Staterooms
The interior Promenade Family staterooms feature bay windows that overlook the action on what serves as the ship’s main street, and with 300 square feet interior space, these staterooms accommodate up to six guests.
A clever configuration provides separate sleeping quarters for parents and kids, with bunk beds in a (smallish) room. One caveat is that this category stateroom can be noisy when the Royal Promenade is busy, but what a vantage point for watching the action. It’s like living in Manhattan when the Macy’s Christmas Parade is taking place.
For those who don’t mind splurging, the Presidential Suite on deck six sleeps up to 14. Yes, it’s pricey, but plunking down the cash for this suite can be a better value for large families than other stateroom categories. How so? The full rate is charged only for the first two guests, with additional guests paying reduced rates.
The suite’s 1,215-square-foot interior space features dual entryways and two master bedrooms with flat screen televisions and en suite bathrooms with tubs. Two additional bedrooms sleep four people each. For those who are doing the math, a sectional sofa in the spacious living room sleeps two. That’s 14 people.
The Presidential Suite’s balcony measures 810 square feet and features a bar, whirlpool, eight lounge chairs and a 14-person table for dining al fresco. It’s like a resort inside of a ship.
Accommodating up to eight, the 588-square-foot Royal Family Suite on deck nine features two bedrooms and two private bathrooms, one with a tub, and a 234-square-foot balcony. Similar to the Royal Family Suite, the Owner’s Suite, on deck 10, is slightly larger but sleeps only four.
Kids Will Love It
Kids who enjoy the whiz-bang of the latest technologies will adore any of the Freedom-class ships. Like its sisters Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas, Independence of the Seas represents state of the cruising art — with a whole host of amenities and features that run from the now-expected-of-Royal Caribbean rock-climbing walls to an interactive water park.
The most talked about feature is the FlowRider Surf Park, a surf simulator that functions like a perpetual wave where you can try to hang ten. Wipeouts aren’t painful, and the less adventurous can use a body board.
The Flowrider is situated near the H2O Zone (pictured above), an expansive top-deck area fitted with a kids’ pool, water cannons and abstract colorful sculpture fountains that shoot water in entertaining and unpredictable directions, partially controlled by passengers who want to get soaked or start a water war.
Extended versions of popular Voyager-class ships, the Freedom-class ships vessels are the most innovative in the Royal Caribbean fleet of megaliners, and it would take a seriously bad mood to claim that there is nothing to do. If anyone gets too truculent, ship them off to the full-size boxing ring, where they can get lessons and even do some sparring.
With programs for five age groups of kids and teens, Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean, for young people 6 months to 17 years, gets consistently high marks for its family friendly approach. Providing fun learning opportunities about local customs, with some cool science experiments too, Adventure Ocean separates kids by age, with dedicated facilities for each group.
For fun family fare, it’s tough to beat the 1950s-influenced American style diner Johnny Rockets for a burger, fries and a shake. If you are having too much fun to leave the pool deck, the Solarium pool has a cafe dispensing pizzas, while the self-serve Sprinkles provides frozen yogurt. If looking for a healthier drink options, there is the Squeeze selling various fruit drinks.
And for grown-ups who want to occasionally get away from the activity, the adults-only Solarium offers a range of possibilities: from spending a lazy afternoon in a hammock to enjoying underwater music while swimming in the central pool. For a hot soak with a dramatic view, step into the two adults-only hot tubs that are cantilevered 12 feet out from the side of the ship. Or dine in one of the specialty restaurants, Chops Grille for steaks and seafood, or Portofinos for fine Italian dining.
After dinner, be sure to catch the performances in the Alhambra Theatre. If you fail to catch AbbaCadabra performing “Dancing Queen” take solace in knowing that you can always stage your own performance in the Personal Karaoke Booth. Surely you remember the lyrics: “You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life.” Yes indeed. Having the time of your life.