You cruise to escape the real world and relinquish all your worries, not to wait in long lines for the rock climbing wall or miss the main show because it's sold out. But unless you've sailed with Royal Caribbean a few times, you might not know there are prime times to climb or that it's a good idea to make reservations for certain shows ahead of time.
Luckily, we've been on our fair share of ships and accumulated some helpful tips along the way. Manage your fear of missing out with these six Royal Caribbean hacks.
1. Time recreational activities to beat the crowds.
Royal Caribbean ships are like playgrounds for adults. They come with a bunch of recreational activities, ranging from a rock climbing wall and FlowRider surf simulator to a zipline and indoor skydiving. They're all free. (Hooray!)
The only downside is that everyone wants to try them, usually at the same time. If you've got your heart set on one (or all) of these activities, you should aim to try at least one on embarkation day or while the ship is in port. The lines are significantly shorter -- and who knows, you might even get to go twice!
Freedom of the Seas: What's It Like Onboard a Test Cruise? (Cruise Critic & Royal Caribbean Blog
Anthem Of The Seas Welcomes Gigi The Giraffe
Oasis Of The Seas Ship Tour - Ship Exterior
What It Means To Be Loyal To Royal
Here's What We Packed For Our Royal Caribbean Cruise (June 2021)
7 Can’t-Miss Experiences on Allure Of The Seas
The Most Exciting New Ships In 2021
Cruise Critic Tries The Ultimate Abyss Slide On Harmony Of The Seas (POV Video)
Celebrity to Restart from U.S. Homeport, PLUS Royal Caribbean Given Green Light for Test Cruises! (VIDEO)
Odyssey of the Seas -- From Steel Cutting to Delivery 2021
Video Of Odyssey Of The Seas Conveyance March 2021
Video: Royal Caribbean Group Announces E-muster, Keyless Cabin Check-in And Other App Improvements
Royal Caribbean Odyssey Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft
Shipyard Tour: Royal Caribbean’s Symphony Of The Seas Gets Its Finishing Touches -- Video
Harmony Of The Seas Video Tour – Inside Look At One Of Royal Caribbean’s Most Popular Cruise Ships
Symphony Of The Seas Video Tour
Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum Of The Seas Celebrates Keel Laying
Sea Beyond: An Innovative Cruise Experience By Royal Caribbean
Sneak Peak At Symphony Of The Seas
What’s Your Size? Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class Vs. Majesty Of The Seas - Video
Royal Caribbean's Oasis Of The Seas Highlights
Spectrum Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft
Royal Caribbean's Enchantment Of The Seas Highlights
Inside Cabins On Cruise Ships: Whose Is Best?
Harvest Caye Cruise Port Video Tour
Royal Caribbean's Allure Of The Seas
Video Tour of Allure Of The Seas' Bars
Cruise Pier Runners In Cozumel -- Carnival Liberty
Harmony Of The Seas Youth Place
Harmony Of The Seas Boardwalk
Harmony Of The Seas Pool And Sports Zone
Harmony Of The Seas Central Park On Royal Caribbean International
Harmony Of The Seas Entertainment Place
Harmony Of The Seas Royal Promenade
Harmony Of The Seas Vitality Spa And Fitness Center
Perfect Storm Water Slides On Harmony Of The Seas
Cruise Critic Tours Harmony Of The Seas
Harmony Of The Seas Cabins - Video Tour - Cruise Critic
Cruise Critic Tours Harmony Of The Seas
Greased Lightnin' Royal Caribbean Brings Another Broadway Hit
Plunging Into Adventure On The Tallest Slide At Sea: Royal Caribbean Reveals 10-Story Ultimate Abyss
Cruise Critic Flowrider On Royal Caribbean's Freedom Of The Seas
Cruise Critic Tours Anthem of the Seas
Carnival Liberty Cruise - Late Passengers In Cozumel
Oasis Of The Seas Flowrider - Cruise Critic Goes Surfing
Oasis Of The Seas Royal Promenade
Oasis Of The Seas Jazz On 4 Performance
Oasis Of The Seas Royal Promenade Parade
Oasis Of The Seas Carousel In Action
Oasis Of The Seas Ship Tour Main Dining Room
Related: 8 Best Cruise Ships for Sea Days
2. Reserve main theater shows before you board.
Jaw-dropping Broadway, ice-skating and high-diving acrobatic shows make Royal Caribbean one of our favorite cruise lines for entertainment. Not surprisingly, seats for these shows fill up fast. Cruisers have the option to reserve seats after booking, and we highly recommend it -- especially for Broadway shows like "Mamma Mia!" and "Grease."
Bear in mind: Reservations only include admission to a specific show time, not assigned seats. If you don't have reservations, there's still a chance you can get in when booked passengers don't show up. Either way, it's a good idea to arrive at least 15 minutes early to ensure you snag a good spot.
3. Look beyond the buffet for breakfast and lunch.
As is the case on nearly every cruise ship, passengers flock to the buffet for breakfast and lunch. It's free, it's quick, and you can stack your plate as high as your little heart desires. On the flip side, it can turn into utter chaos at peak dining times (early morning on port days and around 1 p.m., for example).
To avoid hungry crowds, head to the main dining room or one of the ship's complimentary specialty restaurants. The Solarium Bistro and Johnny Rockets are excellent alternatives for breakfast. Depending on the ship, other lunch options include Sorrento's, Cafe Promenade, Park Cafe (Oasis Class) and Cafe Two70 (Quantum Class).
4. Make your own pizza at Sorrento's.
Speaking of Sorrento's, we're all for the line's attempt to create a New York pizzeria-style dining venue, but its premade pizzas, conveniently served around the clock, lack that "straight out of the oven" taste. Passengers who are picky about their pies can opt to make their own personal pizzas.
The custom-pizza station allows cruisers to pile as many (or as few) fresh ingredients (such as barbecue chicken, artichokes and jalapenos) as they like onto a thick-crust dough. Creations are baked and served to the table within about 10 minutes. (Gluten-free dough is available upon request.)
Related: 5 Best Pizza Shops on Cruise Ships
5. Save money with the drink of the day.
Looking for ways to save money on drinks? Royal Caribbean features a "drink of the day," and it costs roughly $2 to $4 less than the average cocktail. Check your Cruise Compass (the ship's daily planner) to see what the drink of the day is and where you can find it.
Note: More avid imbibers might want to consider a beverage package, which allows them to pay one base price for unlimited drinks. Already booked? Keep an eye on your Cruise Planner online account. Royal Caribbean has been known to offer limited-time beverage package discounts on select sailings.
6. Get creative with your ice cream.
With so much to do onboard, Royal Caribbean cruisers love to cool off -- often with ice cream. Self-serve stations are located at the buffet and pool deck. We have one small gripe; they only offer cones, which can get messy if you don't eat them fast enough.
One of our favorite Royal Caribbean hacks: Snag a soup bowl and spoon from the Windjammer Marketplace or a plastic cup from a nearby cafe. You'll have more room for ice cream and won't have to worry about it melting all over your hands.
Craving something a little sweeter? Sprinkle in some cereal as a topping (also available at the Windjammer), or add a little soda (for a fee) to create your own float.
Want more ways to hack your cruise?
We've got more tips and tricks for you: