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First Time Cruising With Royal Caribbean?
Cruising with Royal Caribbean is an exciting adventure, especially for first-time cruisers. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of booking your first Royal Caribbean cruise, provide tips to snag the best deals, and offer guidance on making the most of your cruise experience.
Table of Contents
Choosing the Right Cruise
Before you embark on your first Royal Caribbean adventure, it’s essential to choose the right cruise for your preferences and budget. Visit Royal Caribbean’s official website to explore their fleet and itineraries. As a first-time cruiser, you’ll find a wealth of options to consider, so take your time to research and find the perfect match for your dream vacation. You’ll have an incredible amount of ships and itineraries to choose from – a large part is obviously the ship itself. Some people like the large Oasis and Quantum class ship while some groups swear by the smaller Navigator class ships – The truth is it truly comes down to preference and location. Those down under in Australia where we’re also located. We’ll have a lot more limited options ranging from Quantum Of The Seas, Ovation Of The Seas, and Brilliance of the Seas for the most part. Very rarely will any other ship venture down under. Those in America and Europe will have a much larger range of ships including the amazing Oasis class ships.
For those down under we can’t recommend enough the amazing Ovation Of The Seas – out of all the ships we’ve experienced this is by far our favorite with Quantum coming in a close second.
Booking Your Cruise
When it comes to booking your first Royal Caribbean cruise, timing can make a big difference. Royal Caribbean often offers incredible deals during special sale dates, such as the 4th of July and Black Friday. These sales can provide significant savings on your cruise fare and perks like drink packages or onboard credits. Keep an eye on their website. For people wanting to book though third parties and travel agency, you can also find amazing deals such as CruiseGuru.
So when is the best time to book? Depending on your location and when the cruise season starts this can vary. The best deals that can be found are often ether on short notice. As in they’re sailing in the next few weeks and need to fill the ship or there is a large sale on. Sales come and go with Royal all the time, Often you can nab an exciting 35% off sale around July – September along with notable days in America. Such as the 4th of July or Black Friday – This is also often the best time to grab those packages to make your cruise more enjoyable! We’d recommend those leaving from Sydney to check out the 10-Night New Zealand Cruise – You can see our review Here
Or why not the South Pacific?
Once you’ve secured your cruise woohoo! there are several essential pre-cruise tasks to tackle. First, consider travel insurance, and check passport and visa requirements for your selected itinerary. Royal Caribbean’s website provides valuable information on travel essentials.
- Passport & ID – As part of the check-in process they’ll require your passport and ID along with the boarding process. It’s important to note: You must have more than 6 Months of validity on your passport before your sail date. Note: For local / domestic cruises, you can use your Drivers License number instead of your passport
- Visa – Depending on where you stopping off you may require a visa at the port. You should be advised if this is the case, a lot of the time this isn’t required. For example, for those traveling to the South Pacific from Brisbane – This is NOT required same goes for cruisers going from Sydney and Brisbane to New Zealand.
- Travel Insurance – Now you’ve booked your cruise it’s incredibly important you look into travel insurance that suits your needs. There is a large amount of options out there, our advice is to find one you are happy with that includes “Cruise cover” This is typically an add-on to your cover. This will cover things like missed ports, lost property, and other cruise-related things.
- Phone Plan – You may have the internet package on the cruise which is great! – but what happens when you get off your ship, how are you going to find locations, google, or message people? There good chance you might be able to find free WiFi somewhere in the town. However, most phone providers will have a day plan for international roaming in select countries at a very cheap rate. With Optus (Australian provider) it’s typically $10 AUD for 10 GB of data for 24 hours – which is plenty. Other plans may have this inclusive.
- Travel Adapter – A lot of people don’t realize that cruise ships are only fitted with US and EU power outlets until it’s too late. Being an American cruise line, most are in the US Outlets. Getting the right travel adapter is very important, those traveling from Australia will want to get a EU adapter like the one we use. This is cause the EU has the closest voltage to AU (EU 220V) and the US is 110V.
- Phone case – Having a phone case that can hold your SeaPass is a lifesaver. Once on board there will often be a stand selling lanyards, and SeaPass holders for around your neck. However, I found the best was just having it in my phone case. Once on board the ship you’ll want to put your passport and wallet in the safe as you won’t need it for a while. Most of the time leaves you with just your phone, I personally don’t like having something around my neck all day and night as I have my phone with me all the time already – so why not just keep it there?
- Currency & Money – Those traveling out anywhere other than the US may be surprised to know everything on all of the royal ships is in USD – everything. It’s important to know this as you can make some costly mistakes here, first of all, we recommend converting your local currency on shore to USD as you’ll get better rates all around. You can use your card to tap and pay however, you may be using the bank’s conversion rate and be hit with other fees on top of this.
What To Pack
You can see our in-depth packing guide Here we go throw some of the most missed items that people forget to pack – or things you must have!
However let’s go over the basics here – first thing is let’s think about where you are traveling to, is it hot? is it cold? – We personally use windy.com simply put an amazing weather tracker! Check the weather and pack around it however think about this, even if it is hot during your sailing the top deck is always packed with everyone having fun even into the late hours of the night.
When that sun goes down, so does the temperature, let me tell you the wind coming off the ocean right into the ship is COLD. We always suggest bringing a nice windbreaker and sunscreen. People never really seem to bring these, the ocean reflects the sun like a perfect mirror and it’ll burn you up nicely! So let’s go over a basic list
Step 1 – Check the weather for your locations and dates (example: windy.com)
Step 2 – Pack your basic clothes based on your weather.
- Windbreaker Jumper
- Formal Clothes – we go into more detail below in this post, but you’ll have a formal night or two during your cruise!
- Themed Clothes – you’ll also themed party nights! You can see below what to expect from these!
- Swimmers – There are lots of pools and spas you can relax in so don’t forget them!
- Medication – If you take any medication, of course, bring them but on top of that we have a whole list Here of medication you should bring on board.
- Enough Clothes – Yes there is a laundry option, but this comes at a cost! we suggest showering down your swimmers and letting them dry in the shower overnight, but bring extra clothes to save a few dollars!
- Protection – This can be anything from Sunscreen to hats, sunglasses, windbreakers
But we suggest taking a look at our guide Below or Here!
So notable mentions are the following must have items we never travel without on a cruise
On Royal’s ships, there are two types of outlets in the rooms EU and US power outlets. It’s important that we Aussies stick to EU outlets, our voltage at home runs at 240V. Our US friends run at a lower 110V, while our EU friends are at a closer 220V. Devices bought in Australia are designed to be run at 240V, trying to run them on 110V can potentially damage your device. (AU 240V, EU 220V, US 110V) This travel adapter can also work with US, AU, EU, and JP outlets – so it’s perfect for your future travels! You can see it Here
Phone Case With Card Holder for SeaPass
Keep your SeaPass card on you at all times, which is your key to everything on the cruise, safe and easily accessible. With a phone case that has a perfect slot for it, this is mainly for people who don’t want a lanyard around their neck 24/7 – We already always have our phone on us, so why not keep your SeaPass with it? You can see it Here
The perfect pouch for when you are on your favorite port call, this is waterproof whether you are swimming on the cruise or at the beach. Your phone and other essentials are dry and safe! Check it out Here
The age-old question is whether this package is worth it, or should I get XYZ. Let’s talk about some of Royal Caribbean’s most notable packages to make your cruise the perfect holiday! To view all our guides on the package onboard Royal See them Here – ExploreUncharted.com/package-information
Important to note: A lot of the packages, you CANNOT share – all the drink packages cannot not be shared.
We’ve got one of the biggest deep dives on royal packages right here on our website! so we can get you deals like this! Check Here for more information
Let’s start with the most popular Deluxe Beverage Package, there are 101 questions and answers if it’s worth it. Let’s look outside of the cost for a moment, what type of cruise are you having? Is it a special occasion? is this a yearly holiday or are you just jumping on a great deal – are with your kids and family? If it’s a special occasion or holiday – then I say personally Yes, for some, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The simplicity of not having to worry about the bank account or stress over budgets is a big factor in relaxing! The price of course does matter however with it changing so drastically so often you can often grab up great deals fairly often. Its also worth noting you’ll receive a souvenir cup that can used with the freestyle soda machines!
Typically anything 35% or above is a good deal – with great deals being 40% or over. The price will vary from ship to ship and on the length of your cruise, for example, I’m currently booked to go on Quantum Of The Seas for 7 Nights To the South Pacific, and I’ve got my package at $106 AUD or $66 USD per night with the average drink costing $15 USD I personally can make that worth it fairly easily.
Now if you’ve gotten a deal and just thought, let’s go on a cruise! then this might break that budget – drinking isn’t everything and there are other packages that might be better suited to you, and if you traveling with kids it is up to you if you’ll be able to drink enough to make it financially worth it. We also have a calculator which has the drink prices and tells if it is financially worth it for you Here. We also suggest you check our in-depth guide Here
This is similar to the Deluxe Beverage Package, but instead, we’re not getting alcoholic drinks or discounts on alcohol. If you are a soft drink or coffee lover this may be for you or maybe this is for your younger family members. Similar to the Deluxe Drink Package, this unlimited so younger cruisers can enjoy unlimited soft drinks, milkshakes, coffees, or mocktails. It’s also most of the time significantly cheaper than the Deluxe Drink Package – If you travelling with kids or Teens, this would be ideal for them. Your are able to get the Deluxe Beverage Package while they enjoy the Refreshment Package. See our full guide Here
VOOM Surf + Stream (aka wifi package)
Voom is Royal’s WiFi onboard, now it’s important to know – although not 100% Needed to enjoy your holiday, we recommend it. There isn’t any free Wifi across Royal’s fleet, however, the Royal app will still work so you can still reserve activities and check the cruise planner. Select Ship are getting upgraded to Starlink for an even faster internet experience – but at the moment a lot of ships are using their standard system. Overall it isn’t bad you can stream movies, check your mail, or Snapchat your amazing adventure to your friends at home.
Using it for business isn’t too bad of an experience either using Zoom you’ll notice a few issues like it dropping out every so often and being a bit slower than what you’re typically used to. However, overall it’s not bad at all and a lot better than other cruise lines we’ve seen. Just like the drink packages, this CANNOT be shared.
When you book it you’ll be asked how many devices you’re going to be using, if you select 1 – then only that one device can be used at (once) if you select 2 then both can be used at once. This is the only way of “sharing” the package – you can share the device amongst family and friends too of course. See our in-depth guide Here for more information
If you want to experience the real luxury of royal then this might be for you. The Key is a package that will give more complementary options, such as Wifi – Yes this includes Wifi in the base price. Priority boarding at select locations and priority tendering as well, you’ll be up there with the Star and sky class suits getting Priority. You’ll also get a signature lunch doing your Embarkment day with the signature Key Menu as well as the signature Breakfast on Disbarment Day. Overall this can be great but isn’t a must-have by any means. It is nice to have, and with that said it can be grabbed on some great deals. We personally got this cheaper than the Wi-Fi package during our 10 Night New Zealand Cruise on Ovation Of The Seas. To find out more see our in-depth review and guide on The Key Here
Our Cruise Checklist
Have a look at our online cruise checklist, you can click and check off each item to make sure you’ve got everything you need packed. You can also download it – so grab your favorite pen and a drink! let’s get packing
The Royal Caribbean Seapass is the card that you’ll use as your own personal ship credit card – you can also use the Royal Caribbean Wow bands (we’ll come back to them). With the Seapass card you can before the cruise call up Royal Caribbean and pre-load it up with money (must be USD) or you can convert cash at guest services once on board. We always recommend you do it this way, it ensures you get the best bang for your dollar. The ship conversion rate isn’t always horrible sometimes it’s okay – you’ll always find a better price on land though at your local exchange.
Your SeaPass can be found on the day of boarding, out the front of your cabin. It’ll be inside an envelope.
Your Seapass card or wow band is also like your ID, it’s used to get into your cabin, buy drinks, dinner to even scan on and off the ship at ports. If you’ve bought a package, it’s also attached to this card for example if you have the deluxe drink package, it’ll say in the bottom right corner “Deluxe” or if you have the key, it’ll have a small symbol of the key on the card.
Now for the royal caribbean wristband also known as the Wow band – Wow band are described as a wristband that is designed to replace the seapass card on select Royal Caribbean ships, like Anthem of the Seas® and Harmony of the Seas®, you will have the option to use WOW Bands, wearable wristbands with built-in RFID chips. These bands simplify your cruise experience by allowing you to:
- Unlock your stateroom door.
- Make onboard purchases.
- Access specific lounges (for Suite guests and Crown & Anchor members).
You can purchase a WOW Band for $9.99** onboard, or Star Class guests receive them for free. Please note that for port departures and boarding, you’ll still need your SeaPass card, and if you lose your WOW Band, you’ll need to buy a replacement. You can see more information on the Wow Bands Here
There are always a lot of questions regarding dinner on board so let’s go over them quickly. First of all, let’s cover some terms quickly like what does MDR mean? and what does MTD mean? Well MDR stands for Main Dining Room and MTD is My Time Dining. When you book your cruise you’ll be able to select what time you want dinner. We always recommend you select My Time Dining, although if you don’t this isn’t an issue.
You can also select a time and you’ll be assigned a table, time, and location of likely 1 of 2-3 Main Dining Rooms (Depending on the ship) With My Time Dinning you can choose when you’d like to have dinner, you simply rock up and they’ll see if there is room and you can eat. The reason why we recommend My Time Dining is because of the number of other options there are, from premium restaurants like Jamie’s – Izumie’s, Wonderland, or the Windjammer just to name a few. You might find you’ll enjoy these places better, and if not – then simply walk to the Main Dining Room!
If you are assigned a time, but you want MTD – we suggest you go to guest services on board and ask them to change it to My Time Dining. You can also just show up we you’d like however we advise against this. The Staff reserves a table for you and or your group, if you don’t show up it’s wasting capacity for them.
What to Expect on Embarkation Day
Embarkation day marks the beginning of your cruise adventure. Arrive at the port early, and ensure you have all the necessary documents, including your cruise ticket, passport, and any required health documents. Royal Caribbean’s website offers a helpful embarkation guide with step-by-step instructions.
Now depending on your cabin, what packages you’ve gotten, and the time you selected during check-in you’ll be given a time to arrive at the port. Oftentimes they’ll be running slightly in delay, however, always try to arrive slightly earlier and find a café nearby. Those who have The Key may be given the option to board early – you should receive an email outlining this if it is the case. Those traveling in suits, such as “Star class” may be given early boarding times.
When they call your “class” you’ll line up at the port and proceed into the terminal, if Covid safety measures are in place you’ll go through a quick Covid inspection for a RAT test that is negative, along with an international Vaccine certificate. You’ll then go through to the royal check-in a staff member will confirm your details and move you onto customs. Customs will check your passport and from here you go through a quick security checkpoint similar to the airports. From here you are free to walk on board to your dream escape!
Choosing the right stateroom is crucial to your overall cruise experience. Explore the options on Royal Caribbean’s website and consider factors like location, view, and budget. First-time cruisers often appreciate the convenience of a balcony stateroom for breathtaking ocean views.
Royal offers main options of rooms, from the Interior room all the way up to the owner’s loft, a massive 2-level grand suite. Depending on your budget and the type of trip this is for you will help you choose what you want. I often am happy with an interior room with the Virtual Balcony on Quantum Class ships. For those who suffer from sea sickness, you’ll want to try and get a room as close to the center of the ship as you can, A balcony will be a help as well, but a virtual balcony will work too. You’ll feel the motion a lot less here, center (mid-ship), and a lower floor will mean you won’t notice the ship rock as much.
If you suffer from seasickness then fear not, we’re right here to help! Here we go in-depth talking about everything about beating the horrible sea sickness/motion sickness!
Perfect for kids of all ages
Traveling with teens and kids can sometimes be a challenge, but Royal Caribbean has your back. With their exceptional onboard programming designed specifically for Royal Caribbean kids and young adventurers, your family cruise can become a dream vacation for both teens and parents alike. In this article, we’ll explore Royal Caribbean Clubs to extensive Kids and Teens Programs, giving you insights into the unique activities, age-appropriate adventures, and dedicated venues that make cruising with your family an unforgettable experience
- Aquanauts (ages 3-5 years): Conduct cool experiments and become Certified Jr. Adventure Scientists. Also known as Royal Caribbean Child Care.
- Explorers (ages 6-8 years): Enjoy exciting cruise activities and themed parties. Also known as Royal Caribbean Kids Clubs.
- Voyagers (ages 9-12 years): Explore a range of activities that make learning fun. Also known as the Royal Caribbean Teen Club.
Dining and Food Options
Your culinary journey onboard is a highlight of any Royal Caribbean cruise. Before you set sail, take a look at the dining options available, including the main dining rooms, specialty restaurants, and buffets. To make the most of your dining experience, consider booking specialty dining packages on Royal Caribbean’s website in advance.
Just a few options to list are places such as Wonderland, a magical experience everyone must try! – Jamie’s, a restaurant created by the one and only Jamie Oliver, its truly some of the best-tasting food I’ve had in my whole life. We suggest trying their amazing Garlic Bread along with fresh Italian Pasta.
Jamie’s – Ultimate Garlic Bread
There is also Izumi’s an authentic Japanese-inspired dream, the food quality is up there with Jamie’s, and it’s a beautiful place to enjoy dinner. These are only just a couple of notable places! These will vary from ship to ship! we’ve based this off the Quantum Class of ships both Ovation Of The Seas and Quantum Of The Seas
Onboard Activities and Entertainment
Royal Caribbean offers a plethora of activities and entertainment options. Be sure to plan your days by checking the cruise’s daily schedule, which you can access via the Royal Caribbean app. Don’t miss out on pre-booking shows and activities to secure your spot.
You can see more on royal entertainment on board in our post Here
Shore Excursions and Port Days
Come around 6:30-7AM you’ll be ready to be tendered out to the shore, so it’s a good idea to plan what you want to do.
Research and book your shore excursions through Royal Caribbean’s website well before your cruise. This ensures you get to explore the best each destination has to offer. Keep in mind the ship’s departure time when planning your independent adventures in port. You can see more on-shore excursions in our post Here
Understanding Onboard Expenses
To manage your onboard expenses effectively, set a budget before your cruise. Royal Caribbean provides a helpful feature on their website where you can track your spending throughout the journey.
Here is a few massive tips to understand the expenses
- Currency – Everything on the ship is in USD (You can use your card to tap and pay) however depending on your local currency in the bank you’ll also be fit with exchange fees. If your are spending money on board we recommend you load your SeaPass or exchange money on land at a lower rate to bring on board.
- Tipping – Depending on where you board from you may be required to tip, however those leaving from Australia this isn’t the case, and gratuities are included in your fare that you’ve paid. At the end of the cruise your room attended may give you the option to tip them, it isn’t required however they’ll always do everything they can to make sure you have a comfortable and perfect room during your holiday. If you can leave them a tip!
You have a few options in terms of paying for things on you cruise, everything will have to be done via your Seapass. You can automatically link your card to your seapass, this will as you spend money it’ll charge your attached card. You can also give guest services USD cash to have on your account, whatever amount you don’t use it’ll be given back at the end of your cruise. You can also (what i personally do) cash account, as much as it sounds like the above it isn’t. If you do none of the above you’ll be given a 500$ USD credit, at the end of your cruise or once you get to this limit – simply go to guest services and pay the amount due.
Dress Code, Formal and Themed Nights
We go into a deep dive on this Here which we recommend you read to fully understand the dress code. However, depending on your length of cruise, you’ll typically have from 1 -2 formal nights and 2 themed nights. This is based on 7 and 11-night cruises. Most common themed nights at tropical shirt theme, 80’s / 70’s. On formal nights you’ll want a nice suit or cocktail dress – you don’t specifically have to do this although it’s highly encouraged.
Your first Royal Caribbean cruise is a memorable adventure waiting to happen. By booking strategically, staying informed about deals and discounts, and making well-informed choices along the way, you’re well on your way to a fantastic vacation. Share your experiences and tips with other first-time cruisers in the comments section below, and bon voyage!
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not affiliated with Royal Caribbean or any cruise line mentioned in this post. The information provided is based on research and personal experiences to help you make informed decisions and enhance your cruise adventure.