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3 things to know before booking a Royal Caribbean cruise


No other type of vacation prepares you for a cruise, and each cruise line has slightly different policies on what’s included, what costs more, and in some cases what’s even offered.

A cruise on the Royal Caribbean International (RCL) The eponymous cruise line offers a kind of all-inclusive experience, but few people end up spending extra money beyond their cruise fare, taxes, port fees, and (more or less) mandatory tips.

Before booking a cruise with Royal Caribbean, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting for your money. It means understanding three big things. These aren’t the only factors to consider, of course, but if you make a bad call on the first things and don’t go into your cruise understanding both seconds, you could have a bad experience (or least not the experience you were hoping for.

1. Cruise ship class matters

Royal Caribbean offers six ship classes (with a new one coming next year). Their size varies from the largest ships in the world (Oasis class) to much smaller ships. It’s not just the size of the ship that matters, but in general, larger ships have more amenities, more restaurants, and more kid-friendly activities.

It’s also important to know that bigger (or bigger) isn’t always better. Some people swear by the older, smaller ships for having a more “classic” cruising vibe and these ships can often take more interesting routes.

Royal Caribbean classes are:

  • Oasis: They are the largest ships in the world, even the oldest ship in the class is full of things to do, restaurants and awesome experiences. The Oasis-class ships also all have Central Park (a literal park dotted with restaurants and bars) and the Boardwalk, another outdoor area with a carousel, bars, restaurants, and more.
  • Quantum: This class is slightly smaller than the Oasis class, but is actually newer. Quantum lacks outdoor spaces but offers innovations like a huge sports field that sometimes turns into a bumper car attraction. Like the Oasis class, they are modern ships full of activities.
  • Liberty/Voyageur class: These classes are very similar and they are kind of good mid-range options. They don’t offer as many options as the Oasis and Quantum class ships, but they often have a lot more to choose from than anything smaller.
  • Glow: A kind of modern version of a smaller ship, the Radiance class lacks many features, the restaurants. and other options on larger classes, but they offer more than the smaller ships in the fleet.
  • Vision: These are smaller vessels with very few bells and whistles that are generally not used for port-intensive routes.

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When you book a cruise, broadly speaking, if you look at the same time period, the newer ships cost the most, then the larger ships. Older ships in larger classes cost less while “Amped,” Royal Caribbean’s term for the update, costs more.

2. Know what’s not included in your cruise fare

Your cruise fare includes your room, meals in the main dining room, the Windjammer buffet, and at least a few other complimentary restaurants (more on larger ships). You will also have access to water (not bottled). coffee, milk and different flavored waters that vary depending on the time of day.

You will pay extra for many other things:

  • Soda, bottled water, specialty coffee: You can buy a package including these before you go or pay for them à la carte on board.
  • Alcoholic beverages: Again, you can buy an all-inclusive package or pay as you go.
  • The Internet: If you wish to use the internet on board, you will need to purchase a plan. You pay per device, but you can move your service between devices or even people in your group.
  • Specialty meals: Royal Caribbean ships offer all sorts of paid dining options, from upscale steakhouses to ice cream parlours.

These aren’t the only extras you can buy on a ship, but they’re the ones that seem to shock people the most on their first cruise.

3. Buying extras before your cruise is best

Once on the boat, you are a captive audience. Yes, you can wait until you get to a port to get a drink, use the internet, or eat a non-free meal, but most people won’t want to do that. In almost all cases, it’s cheaper to buy any of the things listed above plus shore excursions before your cruise.

This, however, presents a different challenge as prices are not rigid and move around a lot. Royal Caribbean typically holds sales around major holidays, but even those may not offer the best price.

The good news is that you can cancel your purchase before the cruise and repurchase them if the price drops. It’s a pain, and it might take a bit of time to get your refund, but the best way to get the best price is to identify the things you want to buy, do some research on what a good deal might be. price and lock in once you see an acceptable price.

After that, you can monitor prices and cancel and rebook if there’s a significant drop from what you paid.