1. Home
  2. Planning
  3. Cruise Tips and Advice
  4. 6 Royal Caribbean Cruise Hacks
Harmony of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean International)
Harmony of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean International)

6 Royal Caribbean Cruise Hacks

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.

Updated April 12, 2019

1. Time recreational activities to beat the crowds.

Skydiving Onboard Quantum of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean International)

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!

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.

Find a Cruise
Email me when prices drop

3. Look beyond the buffet for breakfast and lunch.

Johnny Rockets on Allure of the Seas (Photo: Cruise Critic)

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.)

5. Save money with the drink of the day.

Royal Caribbean's Deluxe Beverage Package (Photo: Royal Caribbean)

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:



Find a Cruise
Email me when prices drop

Popular on Cruise Critic

How To Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks It's the permutations (size, view, location, amenities and price, for example) of the four basic cabin types that can make choosing difficult. In addition to knowing your cabin options, you need to know yourself: Do you tend to get seasick? Do you prefer to nest peaceably on your balcony rather than hanging with the crowd around the pool area? Conversely, is your idea of a stateroom simply a place to flop into bed at 1 a.m. -- no fancy notions necessary? Are there certain amenities you are willing to splurge on, or can you simply not justify paying for unnecessary perks? The answers will help guide you toward selecting the best stateroom for your money. If you're feeling overwhelmed by choice, we'll help you get started with this guide to choosing the best cruise cabins for you and your travel party.
Best Time to Cruise
It's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific? The answer depends on many variables. For example, fall foliage enthusiasts will find September and October the best time to cruise Canada/New England, whereas families prefer to sail in summer when temperatures are warmer for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season), which is usually the cheapest time to cruise. High season is typically a mix of when the weather is best and popular travel periods (such as summer and school holidays). However, the best time to cruise weather-wise is usually not the cheapest time to cruise. The cheapest time to cruise is when most travelers don't want to go because of chillier temperatures or inopportune timing (too close to holidays, the start of school, etc.). But the lure of cheap fares and uncrowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise and see what jibes with your vacation schedule. Here's a when-to-cruise guide for popular destinations.
What to Pack for a Cruise: A Beginner's Guide
There once was a not-so-savvy seafarer who didn't feel right unless she took two steamer trunks crammed with outfits on every cruise. This, she learned, was not a good idea. Besides incurring the wrath of her male traveling companion, who pointed out that he would have to wrestle with excess baggage through airport terminals and beyond, she quickly tired of cramming her belongings into tiny closets. The now savvy seafarer follows this packing rule: Thou shalt put into one's suitcase only that which will fit neatly in the allocated cabin storage space. Following that advice is getting easier because, for the most part, cruising has become a more casual vacation with relaxed dress codes. Plus, with airlines charging to check bags, it's just plain economical to pack light. To do so, you need to have a good sense of what you’re going to wear on a cruise so you don't pack your entire closet. If you're wondering what to bring on your next cruise, here are our guidelines for what you'll need to pack.