Royal Caribbean has been making big waves lately. After building and promoting what will be the largest cruise ship in the world, they have not been shy in teasing details about their vision for the future of cruising.
Cruisers who are “Loyal to Royal” will claim this is the best cruise line for them, and they will often use the reasons below as proof.
Whether this is your favorite cruise line or not, a few things that the company has done right are undeniable –well, for the most part.
Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas (Photo Credit: Cruise Fever)
Royal Caribbean International has been around since 1968. But over the last few years the cruise line, formerly known as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, has solidified its dominance on the cruise market in a few key categories.
Here are 10 ways in which Royal Caribbean is “King of the Seas”.
1. Largest cruise ships in the world
With the coming Icon of the Seas and Utopia of the Seas, Royal Caribbean will own seven of the largest cruise ships in the world. And it’s not even close. When the first Oasis-class ship debuted in 2008, the cruise line unveiled the first cruise ship with a registered volume over 200,000 gross tons and a passenger capacity over 6,000.
After Utopia of the Seas comes out in 2024, the last of the original behemoth ships will round out the class, but Icon of the Seas will be the new largest cruise ship in the world at 250,000 GRT and a capacity of 7,600 guests. Icon of the Seas will measure 1,198 feet in length and 213 feet in width.
Royal Caribbean dominates the category of largest cruise ships at sea, and it’s a title that will not be overtaken any time soon.
The next closest cruise lines in terms of ship size are MSC Cruises with their World-class ships at 215,863 gross tons and several Carnival Corp. built ships around 184,000 GRT.
Disney Adventure will be the largest ship in Disney’s fleet after its expected debut in 2025. The ship’s gross tonnage will be at least 208,000 gross tons with a capacity expected to be around 6,000.
2. More cruise ships than any other cruise line
With the upcoming ships to debut this year and next, Royal Caribbean will have 28 ships in the fleet, more than any other cruise line in the world. The next closest is Carnival Cruise Line with 27 after Carnival Jubilee debuts.
It was only in the last few years that Royal Caribbean passed Carnival in terms of how many cruise ships each cruise line currently owns.
These ships range in age and class, from the oldest ship in the fleet, Grandeur of the Seas (built in 1996) to the first of its class and aforementioned Icon of the Seas.
Along with having the most ships, the cruise line also is able to carry the most passengers and crew. You can read our recent article on how many people can fit on every cruise ship in the world and how Royal Caribbean will account for 14.9% of all people on a cruise ship in 2024.
See the full list of every cruise ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet here.
3. Daring innovations with the new ships
View over the pool deck with the North Star (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)
Royal Caribbean has never been afraid to push the envelope when it comes to technology and innovation. Whether you see the robot bartenders, living gardens extending 5 decks vertically, or high-flying diving shows on the back of the ship, the company continues to “wow” with every new ship that’s built.
They even found a way to brighten up those dark interior cabins with Virtual Balcony Staterooms which offer a large vertical screen that shows a real time view of the ocean to simulate an actual balcony.
VOOM high-speed internet was a breakthrough innovation for the company, and it came at a time when Wi-Fi service on a cruise ship was iffy to say the least.
Central Park on Oasis-class vessels is a quiet, peaceful area full of green plant life — real green plant life. In fact, there are over 20,000 plants in this cruise ship garden, something you can only find with Royal Caribbean.
The all new AquaDome on Icon of the Seas will host aqua shows at the front of the ship and incorporate robotic arms and light projections to enhance the entertainment experience. This dome covered space, which gives the ship its distinctive ‘forehead’ of sorts, will be a serene lounge during the day, a replacement of the solarium found on other ships this size within the fleet.
The next point emphasizes some of these innovations and how they offer things to do for the more adventurous among us.
4. Adventurous Onboard Activities
Rip Cord Sky Diving Simulator
If you want to have fun on a cruise ship, trying heart-pumping activities you never thought you could try at sea, Royal Caribbean is the cruise line for you. While there are plenty of places to relax on a Royal Caribbean ship in the solarium or spa, the line is known for offering a huge variety of things to do onboard.
In fact, many of the things you can do on a Royal Caribbean ship, are simply not available with other cruise lines.
Here are just a few things available on some ships in the fleet:
FlowRider surf simulators
Sky-diving simulators (RipCord by iFLY)
North Star – On Quantum-class vessels this is an extension arm ride that will take you over 300 feet above sea level.
Zip lines – The zipline is 9 decks high over the Boardwalk on Oasis-class ships.
Ice-skating rinks – For both passenger use and for amazing ice shows at night, at least 13 ships in the fleet have this feature.
Ultimate Abyss – A dry slide over 200 feet long that runs 10 decks down the ship, this is the longest slide you will find on a cruise ship.
5. Cruises to almost every corner of the world
Along with having the most ships comes the advantage of being able to sail to more destinations. And just because “Caribbean” is in the name doesn’t mean the cruise line doesn’t also travel to almost every continent in the world.
From destinations in Alaska to Mediterranean cruise ports, Royal Caribbean offers sailings to hundreds of ports in the world.
From this month until April of 2025 here are some destinations offered by the cruise line along with the number of sailings for each location.
Australia/New Zealand: 106
Canada/New England: 32
Middle East: 30
Panama Canal: 6
Tahiti/ South Pacific: 53
Trans Atlantic/Trans Pacific: 30
6. Broadway style shows and tons of entertainment
Theater on Harmony of the Seas. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever
Royal Caribbean is known for offering a wide variety of Broadway-style shows and entertainment on its cruise ships. The cruise line currently features four Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals:
CATS is the second-longest running musical in Broadway history, and Royal Caribbean’s production features all of the classic songs and dances, as well as the iconic Jellicle cat costumes.
Saturday Night Fever is a tribute to the disco era, with all of the classic songs from the movie, including “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” and “How Deep Is Your Love.”
Mamma Mia! is a global smash hit musical set to the songs of ABBA, and Royal Caribbean’s production features all of the favorite songs, including “Dancing Queen,” “The Winner Takes It All,” and “Take a Chance on Me.”
Grease is a classic musical about teenage love and rebellion, and Royal Caribbean’s production features all of the classic songs, including “You’re the One That I Want,” “Summer Nights,” and “Grease.”
In addition to these Broadway musicals, Royal Caribbean also offers a variety of other entertainment options, including:
Original productions: Royal Caribbean also produces its own original shows, such as Flight, Blue Planet, and Gallery of Dreams. These shows are often visually stunning and feature talented performers from all over the world.
Water acrobatics: Royal Caribbean’s AquaTheater is home to some of the most impressive acrobatics and synchronized swimming shows in the world.
Ice shows: Royal Caribbean’s Studio B ice rink hosts a variety of ice shows, including Broadway on Ice, which features skaters performing to classic Broadway show tunes.
Comedy: Royal Caribbean offers a variety of comedy shows, including stand-up comedy, improv comedy, and magic shows.
Music: Royal Caribbean offers a variety of live music performances, including cover bands, dueling pianos, and karaoke.
7. Cabin categories for every type of traveler
Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever
Whether you’re a high roller or a cruiser on a budget there are all kinds of stateroom categories to choose from on a Royal Caribbean ship.
The Ultimate Family Townhouse is the most expensive suite on the line’s upcoming Icon of the Seas. It costs around $75,000 per week and can accommodate up to eight guests in 3 levels that include a movie room, balcony with a whirlpool, and butler service.
And then you have some lower cost inward facing staterooms on Oasis-class ships that offer a view of either the Boardwalk or Central Park. These cabins offer a twist on the inside cabin that usually has no view at all. And as stated earlier Royal Caribbean has virtual balconies on some of its ships that give interior cabins a virtual view outside the ship.
Royal Caribbean also has a variety of specialty cabins, such as the Ultimate Family Suite, which has a slide from the kids’ bedroom to the living room, and the AquaTheater Suite, which has a private balcony overlooking the AquaTheater.
For solo travelers, there are at least 13 cruise ships in the fleet that have studio cabins. You can see which cruise ships have studio cabins and how many are on each ship here.
8. A private island unlike any other
CocoCay was completely transformed when Royal Caribbean decided it was time to spice up the place a bit. After spending $250 million to turn the island into a 125-acre playground for every member of the family, the island is now one of the most unique private islands you will find anywhere.
Some of the highlights at Perfect Day at CocoCay include:
Thrill Waterpark: Thrill Waterpark is a 13-acre water park with 13 waterslides, a wave pool, and an adventure pool. The tallest waterslide, Daredevil’s Peak, is the tallest waterslide in North America.
Oasis Lagoon: Oasis Lagoon is a seven-acre freshwater pool with a swim-up bar, floating cabanas, and a waterslide.
Chill Island: Chill Island is an adults-only area with private cabanas, a swim-up bar, and a beach.
South Beach: South Beach is a family-friendly beach area with volleyball courts, basketball courts, and a variety of water sports activities.
Up, Up and Away: Up, Up and Away is a helium balloon that takes you 450 feet above the island for stunning views.
Zip Line: The zip line takes you soaring over the island at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour and offers a 1,600 foot course that crisscrosses the island.
Keep in mind that while there are complimentary things you can do on the island, many of the activities do carry an extra cost.
Carnival has just released some renderings of its new private destination at Celebration Key as well, so we’ll keep on eye on that as more information comes out.
9. Loyalty perks that actually matter
After comparing cruise loyalty programs across multiple cruise lines, it was pretty clear that Royal Caribbean has one of the best compared to cruise lines in the same price range. There’s a reason some cruisers stay “loyal to Royal”.
With the Crown & Anchor Society there are six levels guests can reach. After your first cruise you are automatically enrolled in the program, starting out with Gold level and ultimately reaching Pinnacle Club for the most loyal of cruisers. Each night spent on the ship is an extra point towards your status, with points doubling for suite guests.
Diamond level takes 80 points to reach and is where some of the more meaningful perks kick in. Among other things, benefits include 4 complimentary daily drinks (up to $14), 1 free day of Surf+Stream Wi-Fi, priority waiting list for shore excursions and spa services, Diamond Lounge access, 2 free waters, 1 free photo, and more.
Diamond Plus takes 175 points to reach and benefits include all of the previous perks along with free specialty dining for a 2nd guest, 2 free days of Wi-Fi, priority access to theaters and shows, a personalized gift, one free laundry bag for wash and fold service, a free spa add-on treatment, and many other discounts.
Pinnacle Club level is reached at 700 points and members who reach this status can really soak in the rewards. Besides all of the benefits above, Pinnacle Club members receive Coastal Kitchen access, $25 off specialty dining, free breakfast at any specialty restaurant, free unlimited internet, concierge lounge access, cruise certificate for a free cruise with a 7N balcony, and more.
10. Dining options that run the gamut
Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International
While Royal Caribbean doesn’t offer as many complimentary options as Carnival, they do offer a wide variety of eateries, offering something for any picky palate.
Here are some of the more popular restaurants on Royal Caribbean ships and what you can expect.
Chops Grille: This upscale steakhouse offers a variety of premium cuts of meat, seafood, and side dishes.
Jamie’s Italian: This Italian eatery serves up classic Italian dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Giovanni’s Table: This restaurant offers a variety of Italian dishes, including pasta, pizza, and seafood.
Izumi: This Asian food offering provides Japanese teppanyaki cuisine and is one of the most popular places to eat on a Royal Caribbean ship.
Hooked Seafood: This restaurant offers a variety of fresh seafood dishes, including sushi, sashimi, and lobster rolls. Reservations are recommended.
Wonderland: This restaurant offers a unique experience with colorful and even magical displays of your food that is more of an excursion than just a place to eat.
Johnny Rockets: This American diner serves up burgers, fries, milkshakes, and other classic diner fare.
El Loco Fresh: This Mexican restaurant serves up tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and other Mexican dishes.
Starbucks: Yup, there’s even a Starbucks on certain ships in the fleet. This coffee shop serves coffee, tea, pastries, and other light snacks.
Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade: This sports bar and arcade serves up burgers, wings, nachos, and other bar food.
When Icon of the Seas debuts it will also have a ton of dining venues, 40 in all, in fact.
Every cruiser has their own personal favorite cruise line. Some prefer smaller ships opposed to the huge mega ships Royal Caribbean has built. And others prefer peace and quiet as opposed to hundreds of activities to do around the ship.
While this cruise line might not be for everyone, it’s certain that Royal Caribbean has established themselves as a frontrunner in mainstream cruising. It typically costs more than a Carnival or MSC cruise, but the fanbase is strong enough to remind us that it’s worth the extra cost.
Every cruise line has their specialty and area of focus. Check out our article on Carnival and what they do better than most cruise lines as well.
Have you sailed on a Royal Caribbean cruise before? How would you compare it to other cruise lines you’ve tried?
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