In the past decade, Royal Caribbean has been the breakout cruise line that has, arguably, redefined the cruising experience. Royal Caribbean is the driving force behind the “bigger is better” movement when it comes to cruise ship size and range of amenities.
Royal Caribbean was the first cruise line to introduce shipboard fixtures like rock climbing walls, FlowRider wave machines and onboard ice skating rinks. Royal Caribbean capitalized on these features never before imagined on a cruise ship and positioned the brand as one for the “adventure seeker”. To that end, a Royal Caribbean cruise is a variety of awesome experiences that could be had on or off the ship.
In late 2009, Royal Caribbean upped the ante with the debut of the Oasis of the Seas – the world’s first 6,000+ passenger cruise ship. The ship goes way beyond rock climbing walls by adding a zip line, a second FlowRider surfing machine, 24 dining options, an onboard production of the musical Hairspray, and a diving show on the stern of the ship. Finally, the Oasis of the Seas (and soon to be followed by her twin sister, the Allure of the Seas) has some of the best luxury suites at sea with two-story, apartment-like accommodations. Royal Caribbean is, again, working on redefining the cruising experience.
So, what are the hallmarks of a Royal Caribbean cruise?
The array of activities on the larger ships are amazing. For the adventure-seekers, rock climbing walls, a FlowRider surfing machines, roller blading and ice skating are available on many of the larger ships,
The specialty restaurants are superb with cuisines that range from (depending on the ship) Japanese steakhouse, Italian, American steakhouse and seafood. And, if you are Johnny Rockets-lover, the 1950’s-themed burger joint (complete with the dancing counter crew) is a popular fixture on many of the ships. The main dining rooms’ food is generally regarded as average by cruise ship standards,
Royal Caribbean has a more diverse offering of itineraries vs their major competitor (Carnival, NCL). While Royal has its regular sailings from major ports like Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles, they feature more seasonal sailings with varied itineraries from ports, including, Barcelona, Boston, Hong Kong, Dubai, etc.
The children’s programs (Adventure Ocean youth program) are appreciated by parents and loved by kids. They are broken-up into age groups, including, Royal Babies (0 months +), Royal Tots (2-3), Aquanauts (3-5), Explorers (6-8), Voyagers (9-11). For ages 12+, they have their own special teen-only spaces, like, Fuel Night Club and the Living Room.
The Vitality Spa on Royal Caribbean features standard spa treatments (massages, facials, wraps), but, also offers cosmetic / medical spa treatments (teeth whitening, acupuncture and Botox).
The entertainment onboard Royal Caribbean is diverse – classic main showroom spectacles, comedians (or magicians), jazz combo’s and house bands playing light contemporary music (and island themed music on cruises to sunny destinations). Generally, the entertainment is enjoyable for kicking-back on vacation, but, not so top-notch that it compares well to what you might see in New York or Las Vegas. The one exception being the Oasis of the Seas where the musical Hairspray is in residence – the production compares well to the Broadway original. Aside from the entertainment, the nightlife on Royal Caribbean is great – dance clubs and a casino.
Royal Caribbean Resources:
Royal Caribbean Cruises Dining Guide