30 Days – 30 Cruise Lines: Day 23, Royal Caribbean International

30 Days – 30 Cruise Lines: Day 23, Royal Caribbean International

rcl with rkDay 23: Royal Caribbean International

Freedom of the Seas
Freedom of the Seas

Royal Caribbean is one of the top two most well known cruise lines in the world and especially the US market.  Two words that describe RCI: innovation and imagination.  Royal consistently raises the bar in cruise ships by adding unique, one of a kind features and activities to its ships.

You may know RCI from its HUGE ships that are often in the media or through its WOW campaign. A very fitting term for its ships and overall cruise experience. Each time they build a ship, they challenge the norm and come up with really cool features such as a Central Park, interior facing balconies, water show at sea and more. There is a lot to share about Royal Caribbean, so not to bore you, we will focus on some highlights and features in their fleet.

  • Allure of the SeasTheir fleet consists of 21 ships currently in service and 5 more to be added over the next four years.
  • They offer the largest cruise ship in the cruise industry, Allure of the Seas, which holds 5,400 passengers and is 3″ longer than its sister ship, Oasis of the Seas.
  • Each ship in their fleet will fall into one of seven classes – this is good to know so if you do cruise with Royal and fall in love with a specific class you can try all the other ships within that class, or give the other classes a try to experience this product at a different size.
  • northstartWhile Royal indicated they weren’t going to build anymore mega ships at one time (i.e. Oasis class), they recently announced that they are adding two more ships to this class — one in 2016 is projected to have 6,360 births — WOW!
  • They have contributed several firsts-at-seas including rock climbing wall, zipline and FlowRider® surf simulator.
  • Their new ship, Quantum of the Seas, will start sailing this fall. It will include some firsts at sea such as first bumper cars, RipCord by iFly® (sky dive simulator) and a really cool “orb” attached to an arm that will extend over the ship called NorthStar. They also have added a new two story location on top of the ship with incredible views by day and fun atmosphere at night called Two70°.  You can learn more here and watch some pretty cool videos of all these firsts. And a bonus, Kristin Chenoweth is the godmother and has been a fun part of promoting this ship.
  • They have been in the process of updating their entire fleet to keep everything modern and meet the changing needs of today’s cruiser. Recent updates to Navigator of the Seas included the addition of Virtual Balconies in select inside staterooms. They are so realistic that in their testing they got feedback they needed to add a virtual balcony bar across because people felt like they could fall out.
  • You can find RCI all over the world. They are year round in the Caribbean, although the ship inventory moves around to serve all the worldwide cruise options.

Couple of things we really enjoy about Royal Caribbean:

  • Viking Crown Lounge – this is a signature element, nearly 360° views from the top of the ship. The views are amazing and surprisingly a lot of people don’t know about it so it can be fairly empty.  It looks like a circular spaceship if you’re looking for it. It’s also an easy way to identify a Royal ship.
  • Ft. Lauderdale cruise terminal. Yep, this is part of the Royal Caribbean experience. This terminal was specifically designed to get the 5,400 passengers on and off its Oasis class ships.  They have certainly made the process very efficient and simple for travelers. Don’t let this part scare you away from going on this incredible ship. It was quick and easy to get on the ship and you won’t feel overcrowded.
  • Consistency yet variety. Regardless of which Royal ship you sail, you will always feel comfortable with the traditional elements of cruising (buffet in Wind Jammer cafe, consistent specialty restaurants like Portofino, similar cruise director activities), attention to design details but each ship also will offer something to to experience if you choose such as self-leveling pool tables, a zip line, movie theater, etc.

Because Royal Caribbean is a mass market ship, many cruisers find their first cruise on this brand which makes for many loyal Royal Caribbean fans. Keep in mind when you do book your cruise with Royal Caribbean, they have a gazillion different categories within the basic cabin categories – inside, ocean view, balcony, suite. It is probably best to work with your travel agent to make sure you are getting the best stateroom and to filter through all the options.

As Royal states, they like to WOW. We’d like to know what your favorite Royal Caribbean ship has been to date? What has WOW’d you?  Which one are you most excited to go on next?  Share in the comments below.