Royal Caribbean is a cruise line frequently lauded for offering cruisers the biggest and best cruise ships on the high seas. Throughout the last few decades, the cruise line has frequently unveiled ships that have earned the “biggest in the world” title, and unveiled a bevy of new onboard features that other cruise lines quickly replicated.

That said, not all Royal Caribbean cruise ships are the same. Looking through the many (many) cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean family is like looking back in time — in a good way.

While the cruise line’s newest ships are flashy, colorful resorts on the waves, the older ships are still charming, filled with fun, more intimate and not as overwhelmingly huge.

So how do you know which is right for your upcoming cruise? It all starts with checking out our list of Royal Caribbean ships by age.

Royal Caribbean Ships by AgeWhat’s the Newest Royal Caribbean Ship?What’s the Oldest Royal Caribbean Ship?List of Royal Caribbean Ships Newest to Oldest2022 – Wonder of the Seas (Oasis-class)2021 – Odyssey of the Seas (Quantum Ultra-class)2019 – Spectrum of the Seas (Quantum Ultra-class)2018 – Symphony of the Seas (Oasis-class)2016 – Harmony of the Seas (Oasis-class)2016 – Ovation of the Seas (Quantum-class)2015 – Anthem of the Seas (Quantum-class)2014 – Quantum of the Seas (Quantum-class)2010 – Allure of the Seas (Oasis-class)2009 – Oasis of the Seas (Oasis-class)2008 – Independence of the Seas (Freedom-class)2007 – Liberty of the Seas (Freedom-class)2006 – Freedom of the Seas (Freedom-class)2004 – Jewel of the Seas (Radiance-class)2002 – Mariner of the Seas (Voyager-class)2003 – Serenade of the Seas (Radiance-class)2001 – Navigator of the Seas (Voyager-class)2002 – Brilliance of the Seas (Radiance-class)2001 – Adventure of the Seas (Voyager-class)2001 – Radiance of the Seas (Radiance-class)2000 – Explorer of the Seas (Voyager-class)1999 – Voyager of the Seas (Voyager-class)1998 – Vision of the Seas (Vision-class)1997 – Enchantment of the Seas (Vision-class)1997 – Rhapsody of the Seas (Vision-class)1996 – Grandeur of the Seas (Vision-class)What’s the Difference Between Newer and Older Royal Caribbean Ships?FAQ on Royal Caribbean Ships by Age:What is the newest Royal Caribbean cruise ship?What is the oldest Royal Caribbean cruise ship?What’s the newest class of Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean’s fleet includes more than two dozen ships and seems to be growing every time you turn around. 

Currently, Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship, Grandeur of the Seas, is more than 25 years old, while the newest ship, Wonder of the Seas, debuted in early 2022 (though Wonder of the Seas will soon be overtaken by the two ships coming up in 2024, Icon of the Seas and Utopia of the Seas).

Ships are spread out over eight classes, including, oldest to newest:

The largest class is the Oasis Class, with six ships. However, while Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship is quite the adult by this point, Royal Caribbean’s history stretches back to the 1970s. The line debuted its very first ship in 1970, Song of Norway, as one of the world’s first purpose-built cruise ships.

This ship and a handful of its predecessors have been either retired or sold off, meaning that the current oldest Royal Caribbean ship (which is both still in service and still owned by Royal Caribbean) is Grandeur of the Seas, built in 1996. 

Currently (late 2023), the newest Royal Caribbean ship is Wonder of the Seas, which debuted in early 2022. Part of the Oasis class, Wonder of the Seas offers some of the biggest and best amenities, entertainment venues and services that you’ll find aboard a Royal Caribbean ship.

However, all that will change in 2024, when two new ships join the family. The highly anticipated Icon of the Seas leads the new Icon class starting in January, with eight gorgeous neighborhoods stretched across the ship; six record-breaking waterslides; an impressive number of restaurants and bars; and seven pools. Icon of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship in the world when it debuts. 

After Icon, though, will come Utopia of the Seas, later in 2024, as the sixth and final Oasis-class ship. While not as big and impressive as Icon of the SeasUtopia of the Seas is certainly nothing to scoff at and will offer Royal Caribbean’s best of the Oasis class.

Icon of the Seas Sea Trials (Photo Credit: Jouni Niskakoski / Shutterstock)

Grandeur of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship still in operation. This ship debuted in 1996 and has since been refurbished, in 2012.

Constructed in Turku, Finland, it’s relatively small compared to Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, at 73,817 gross tons and 12 total decks, for a maximum guest capacity of 2,440 people.

The ship offers six dining options, a casino, theater, handful of lounges, two pools, solarium, fitness center and rock-climbing wall, among other features. 

Photo Credit: EWY Media / Shutterstock

Debuting as the world’s largest cruise ship (at least until Royal Caribbean unveils the next world’s largest cruise ship in 2024), Wonder of the Seas is the fifth Oasis-class ship, to be followed by the sixth Oasis-class ship in 2024 (Utopia of the Seas).

Built by Chantiers De L’Atlantique in St. Nazaire, France, Wonder of the Seas boasts a suite neighborhood, the cruise line’s Ultimate Family Suite, and a range of beloved and new dining venues. 

Entered service: March 4, 2022
Maximum passenger capacity: 7,084
Gross tonnage: 235,600

Odyssey of the Seas (Photo Credit: Aerial-motion / Shutterstock)

Built at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, Odyssey of the Seas is still relatively new and, as such, features some of the newer amenities and venues that the cruise line has started adding to its ships. You’ll find indoor skydiving, an indoor sports area called the SeaPlex and a revamped pool deck experience. 

Entered service: April 2021
Maximum passenger capacity: 5,498
Gross tonnage: 169,000

Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

Sister ship to Odyssey of the Seas and the first Quantum Ultra-class ship, Spectrum of the Seas features many of the same venues, amenities and entertainment options, like the iFly skydiving simulator, North Star observation capsule and Seaplex entertainment complex. This ship primarily caters to the Asian cruising market.

Entered service: April 18, 2019
Maximum passenger capacity: 5,622
Gross tonnage: 169,379

Photo Credit: Mia2you / Shutterstock

The last Oasis-class ship to debut before Wonder of the Seas earlier in 2023, Symphony of the Seas is like a fairly downgraded version of Wonder. This ship has a lot to love … just not quite as much as her younger sister. 

There are seven on-board neighborhoods; the Ultimate Family Suite; a 10-story slide known as The Ultimate Abyss; and a laser tag arena. 

Entered service: April 7, 2018
Maximum passenger capacity: 6,680
Gross tonnage: 228,081

Photo Credit: Vintagepix / Shutterstock

Built at STX France in St. Nazaire, France, Harmony of the Seas offers much of the same special features as sister ship Symphony of the Seas. There’s the same trio of waterslides known as The Perfect Storm, the 10-story Ultimate Abyss dry slide and seven on-board neighborhoods. 

Entered service: May 29, 2016
Maximum passenger capacity: 6,687
Gross tonnage: 226,963

Photo Credit: Jon Ingall / Shutterstock

The year 2016 was a big one for Royal Caribbean, as the cruise line debuted two cruise ships in just as many months. Of course, Ovation of the Seas is definitely smaller than Harmony of the Seas, but Ovation still offers plenty for cruisers to enjoy across its 16 decks.

Entered service: April 17, 2016
Maximum passenger capacity: 4,905
Gross tonnage: 168,666

Photo Credit: LD Media UK / Shutterstock

At the same size and passenger capacity of sister ships Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the SeasAnthem of the Seas, built at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, launched into service in Southampton, England. After sailing Europe for the ship’s maiden voyage, Anthem of the Seas has gone on to serve cruise itineraries throughout the Mediterranean and Caribbean. 

Entered service: April 2, 2015
Maximum passenger capacity: 4,905
Gross tonnage: 168,666

Photo Credit: Venturelli Luca / Shutterstock

Quantum of the Seas kicked off the Quantum class in high style. Built at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, the ship is notable for being the first Royal Caribbean ship to offer first-at-sea activities, including the iFly skydiving activity, the North Star observation pod and the Bionic Bar. These amenities would go on to be added to future Quantum-class ships as well. 

Entered service: November 2, 2014
Maximum passenger capacity: 4,905
Gross tonnage: 168,666

Photo Credit: Cheri Alguire / Shutterstock

This Oasis-class ship is bigger than all of the Quantum-class ships that directly followed it, and offers a large selection of highlight features, including the aquatheater Royal Caribbean has featured on a range of its ships, the Central Park zone and a zip line. 

Constructed in Turku, Finland, at STX Europe, the ship is getting up there in age and was due for some refurbishments just a few years ago, but the Covid-19 pandemic put a pause on those plans. 

Entered service: December 4, 2010
Maximum passenger capacity: 5,496
Gross tonnage: 225,282

Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

The lead ship for the Oasis class, Oasis of the Seas was met with much fanfare. While, sure, it didn’t have as many amazing new features as the later Quantum of the Seas and the overall Quantum class, Oasis of the Seas still brought new offerings and was, for a time, the largest and the longest cruise ship in the world. 

This ship underwent renovations in 2019 to include the tallest slide at sea, the first barbecue restaurant for Royal Caribbean, and some of the line’s Ultimate Panoramic suites. 

Entered service: December 5, 2009
Maximum passenger capacity: 6,771 
Gross tonnage: 226,838

Photo Credit: Roberto Sorin / Shutterstock

Debuted in 2008 after being built in Turku, Finland, and most recently refurbished in 2013 and then 2018, Independence of the Seas was the last of Royal Caribbean’s Freedom class.

Sailing short cruises around the Caribbean, the ship offers classic cruising experiences in a smaller, lower-key setting. Its 2018 refurbishments brought waterslides and other features. 

Entered service: May 2, 2008
Maximum passenger capacity: 4,375 
Gross tonnage: 154,407

Photo Credit: Debbie Ann Powell / Shutterstock

One of three Freedom-class ships, Liberty of the Seas is technically the same size as sister ship Independence of the Seas, but can accommodate more guests.

In 2016, the ship was majorly overhauled to receive new dining and entertainment options, water slides, a water park, and more. 

Entered service: May 19, 2007
Maximum passenger capacity: 4,960 guests
Gross tonnage: 154,407

Photo Credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

The very first Freedom-class ship, Freedom of the Seas is slightly larger than its two following sister ships.

Unlike some ships that had their renovations pushed back or delayed indefinitely in 2020, Freedom of the Seas managed to squeeze hers in, with amplifications that year bringing new life to the pool decks, adding waterslides, and revamping the restaurant and bar options. The ship was built at Kvaerner Masa-Yards, Turku, Finland.

Entered service: May 11, 2006
Maximum passenger capacity: 4,635 guests
Gross tonnage: 156, 271

Jewel of the Seas Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: EWY Media / Shutterstock)

At less than half the size of some of Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, Jewel of the Seas feels positively intimate. A cruise on this ship, built at Meyer Werft Yard in Papenberg, Germany, means only sharing your space at sea with a few thousand other cruisers. 

The ship was the last Royal Caribbean vessel to include a multi-story atrium (as opposed to a promenade) and she received renovations in 2016. Since launch, the ship has served cruise routes throughout the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Persian Gulf. 

Entered service: May 8, 2004
Maximum passenger capacity: 2,702
Gross tonnage: 90,090

Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

One of five Royal Caribbean Voyager-class vessels, Mariner of the Seas isn’t as small as the Radiance-class ships, but still manages to stay on the small side.

The ship, which was built in Turku, Finland, for a cost of $650 million, was renovated last in 2018 to add new entertainment and dining features.

Entered service: November 14, 2003
Maximum passenger capacity: 3,807
Gross tonnage: 139,863 GT

Photo Courtesy: Port of Tampa

With a slightly smaller guest capacity than later sister ship Jewel of the SeasSerenade of the Seas still offers much of the same experiences.

The ship, built at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, received note as the first Royal Caribbean ship to sail to Alaska, as well as to offer the longest cruising itinerary ever, at 274 days spent traveling the entire globe during a single itinerary. 

Entered service: August 25, 2003
Maximum passenger capacity: 2,476
Gross tonnage: 90,090 GT

Photo Credit: ATGImages / Shutterstock

Built in Turku, Finland, Navigator of the Seas has been updated multiple times since 2002. In 2014, Royal Caribbean added extra cabins to the ship, as well as its trademark surfing simulator and outdoor movie screen.

In 2019, further changes were made, to add waterslides and new dining options, among other new features.

Entered service: December 14, 2002
Maximum passenger capacity: 3,968
Gross tonnage:139,999 GT

Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

Another smaller Radiance-class ship, Brilliance of the Seas was last renovated in 2013, so it still features some of the classic Royal Caribbean amenities and entertainment options, even if it might not have all of the latest and greatest, newest features.

There’s still a rock-climbing wall, solarium, mini golf course and a handful of dining and drinking options. 

Entered service: July 15, 2002
Maximum passenger capacity: 2,543
Gross tonnage: 90,090

Photo Credit: NAN728 / Shutterstock.com

Built in Turku, Finland, Adventure of the Seas may not be as updated as some of the ships that were originally launched around the same time, but the ship does still feature some of cruisers’ favorite Royal Caribbean amenities.

There’s the rock climbing wall, Flowrider surfing simulator, Perfect Storm water slides and more.

Entered service: November 18, 2001
Maximum passenger capacity: 3,807
Gross tonnage: 137,276 GT

The very first Radiance-class ship, Radiance of the Seas was built at Meyer Werft Yard in Papenburg, Germany. The ship made waves when it debuted, as the ship containing the most glass in its construction out of any other Royal Caribbean ships, as well as the very first ship in the industry to feature gyroscopically-stabilized pool tables. 

Entered service: April 7, 2001
Maximum passenger capacity: 2,466
Gross tonnage: 90,090

Explorer of the Seas Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Merrillie Redden / Shutterstock)

Built in Turku, Finland, this ship received updates fairly recently, in 2023, when Royal Caribbean added some waterslides. When Explorer of the Seas first debuted, it contained a notable oceanographic laboratory used by university researchers, though that lab has since been retired. 

Entered service: October 28, 2000
Maximum passenger capacity: 4,290
Gross tonnage: 137,308

Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

The first Voyager-class vessel for Royal CaribbeanVoyager of the Seas launched in — believe it or not — the last century. This ship was ground-breaking when it debuted, with the first Royal Caribbean promenade, the first ice skating rink and the first rock climbing wall.

As so many Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been, the ship was the largest in the world when it first set sail. 

Entered service: November 21, 1999
Maximum passenger capacity: 4,000
Gross tonnage: 137,276

Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas (Photo Credit: Stefan Lambauer / Shutterstock)

Vision of the Seas is the newest of Royal Caribbean’s oldest class of cruise ships still in operation. It was built in St. Nazaire, France. The ship has been refitted as recently as 2013 to feature certain Royal Caribbean features that came standard on later ships, such as a rock-climbing wall.

Entered service: May 2, 1998
Maximum passenger capacity: 2,514
Gross tonnage: 78,340

Photo Credit: Tiffany Marie Green / Shutterstock

This ship, built at Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Helsinki, Finland, has the unique distinction of having been stretched — Enchantment of the Seas was literally lengthened by 73 feet in 2005, with a new midsection inserted at a shipyard in The Netherlands. 

Most recently, the ship was refitted in 2013, and now includes features such as a rock-climbing wall, splash deck, outdoor theater screen and more.

Entered service: July 13, 1997
Maximum passenger capacity: 2,730
Gross tonnage: 82,910

Rhapsody of the Seas Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: ATGImages / Shutterstock)

Debuting just a few months before sister ship Enchantment of the SeasRhapsody of the Seas was built at Chantiers de L’Atlantique in St. Nazaire, France.

The ship was refurbished in 2012 to add more cabins, a new outdoor movie screen and new dining options; other refurbishments occurred in 2016 and 2019, though the included changes were relatively minor.

Entered service: May 19, 1997
Maximum passenger capacity: 2,416
Gross tonnage: 78,491

Photo Credit: NAN728 / Shutterstock

The oldest of Royal Caribbean’s ships still in operation, Grandeur of the Seas was originally going to be transferred to Pullmantur Cruises in 2021, though these plans were canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The ship received refurbishments in 2012 and features many of the same venues, amenities and restaurants that you’ll spot on other Royal Caribbean ships built throughout the 1990s and 2000s. 

Entered service: December 14, 1996
Maximum passenger capacity: 2,440
Gross tonnage: 73,817

When deciding between cruising on a newer or older Royal Caribbean ship, there are a few big differences that you’ll want to consider. 

Newer ships are significantly larger than older ships. This is both good and bad. You’ll enjoy far more entertainment, dining and stateroom options, but you’ll also deal with more crowds and just have to navigate your way around a much larger ship, which could prove annoying for some.

Photo Copyright: Melissa Mayntz

Older ships, though, are less updated and less tech-savvy. While new ships feature laser tag arenas and VR experiences, older ships rely on entertainment like pools and rock-climbing walls.

Read Also: Are Royal Caribbean Cruises All Inclusive?

Likewise, staterooms are far less luxurious on older ships than they are on the newer ships, and you get more stateroom and suite options overall on newer ships than you do on the older ships. 

These are all considerations to take into account before you book your Royal Caribbean cruise.

Currently (late 2023), the newest Royal Caribbean ship is Wonder of the Seas, which debuted in early 2022. Part of the Oasis class, Wonder of the Seas offers some of the biggest and best amenities, entertainment venues and services that you’ll find aboard a Royal Caribbean ship.

Grandeur of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship still in operation. This ship debuted in 1996 and has since been refurbished, in 2012. Built in Turku, Finland, it’s relatively small compared to Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, at 73,817 GT and 12 total decks, for a maximum guest capacity of 2,440 people.

The newest Royal Caribbean ship class is the Icon Class. The highly anticipated Icon of the Seas leads the new Icon class starting in January 2024. Icon of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship in the world when it debuts.

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