Royal Caribbean cruise deals aren't hard to find, but sometimes they're hard to decipher. Just because a cruise fare says “deal” doesn’t make it so. It usually takes a lot of digging and a little math to unearth real Royal Caribbean deals. But once you know what to look for -- and where and when to look -- spotting deals becomes easier.
Cruise Critic did the hard work for you. We checked Royal Caribbean Black Friday deals and Royal Caribbean package deals, as well as military cruise deals, special pricing for seniors and residents of certain states, plus deals for members of Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program. We even found out just how wow-worthy Royal Caribbean’s Wow deals are. Here’s everything you need to know.
Royal Caribbean deals on inside cabins start at around $60 per person per night (before taxes and port fees). Anything below that is a deal. For oceanview rooms, fares under $90 per person per night are deals. And while the gold standard for cruise deals across all the mainstream cruise lines is around $100 per person per night for balcony cabins (and you’ll find those on Royal Caribbean), any balcony cabin priced under $150 per night is a good deal on Royal Caribbean. When it comes to suites, look for rooms priced under $250.
Keep in mind that Royal Caribbean frequently enhances its fares with onboard credit and category upgrades while teasing you with both dollars and a percent off of the base fare. It’s easy to search for cruises on the line’s website, but it will take a few clicks to get the hang of finding the deal that suits you best. One trick we’ve learned is not to hesitate to use the "Select Date” option to let the website show you the actual full price. Sometimes it’s the only way to know if you’re getting the deal you thought you were.
Related: The Best Cabin on Any Cruise Ship
The best Royal Caribbean cruise deals show up at the very time you are most likely to be dreaming of a sunny and warm vacation -- January, February and March. Other than those three months, watch for the aforementioned Black Friday cruise deals. Royal Caribbean also offers Cyber Monday deals.
But what seasons are the cheapest for cruising? It depends on your destination, but prices for most Royal Caribbean sailings rise steadily from late spring through mid-summer before dropping as kids return to school. Fares rise again as the holiday season approaches.
Don’t overlook shoulder seasons, either. That’s the transition period between busy and not so busy. For example, the Alaska cruise shoulder seasons are May and September, which often extend into late April and early October and can be cheaper to book.
Are Royal Caribbean’s drink packages deals or not? It’s a longstanding question among cruisers. Try asking yourself these questions: If I were on an all-inclusive trip with beverages included, would I drink beer and wine with lunch and dinner? Would I have an afternoon poolside cocktail? Do I enjoy specialty coffees and fruity cocktails or mocktails on my vacation?
If you answered yes to any of those, then simply treat the drink package as an upgrade to your cruise and consider it a deal because the package price will likely beat the individual drink price.
Related: Is a Cruise Drink Package Right for You?
There’s really no question whether or not Royal Caribbean meal packages are deals. If you plan to try any of the specialty restaurants onboard, packages are the way to go. They can save you as much as 40% over individual restaurant prices.
As for casino deals, the perks are dependent on how much you play. The more you cruise and play over the course of the year, the better the perks become. Deals range from free drinks in the casino to deals on Royal Caribbean cruises (including for family and friends) all the way up to free annual cruises for high rollers.
If you're on the hunt for a Royal Caribbean cruise deal, you'll want to start with the following basic tips:
Newer ship classes have higher prices -- and not just on fares. Everything onboard can be more costly, from drinks to specialty restaurants. Older ships are almost always better deals.
Cruises that include Christmas and New Year’s holidays are not usually deals, but the weeks adjacent to them might be. Look for cruises that end before December 23 or start January 2 or later for the best holiday-ish deals.
Take advantage of the Crown & Anchor frequent cruiser awards program. You are automatically enrolled after your first Royal Caribbean cruise. Every member gets up to 25% off last-minute sailings.
Don’t forget to apply promo codes and exclusive rate discounts when you cruise shop. Make sure your Crown & Anchor member number is attached, as well as your state of residence and whether you are entitled to the discounts for military, first responders or for being 55 years old (or older). The best discounts are not applied until you do this.
Sign up for Royal Caribbean deals via email.
Check out Cruise Critic's curated deals. We spell out just how good your deal is using our deal score, which factors in things like on-board credits, room upgrades, flight bargains and more.
If you're willing to take an extra step or two, cruise deals on Royal Caribbean can be even better. Start with the below insider tips to maximize your bargain:
The best Royal Caribbean deals generally leave from Galveston, Los Angeles, San Juan, and Baltimore (southbound cruises only).
Check four, five, six and eight-night cruises for hot deals. These lengths are oddballs, so fares per night are often lower.
Repositioning cruises can be amazing deals, but the best ones are short cruises like the ones that move ships into and out of position for the Alaska season or swapping home ports to and from San Juan.
Double dip by using free or bonus onboard credit to buy discounted meal packages.
Unless you are a serious balcony user, consider an inside or oceanview cabin. You may be surprised that the advertised deals are actually better for the less popular categories. We checked prices during the most recent Royal Caribbean Wow deals sale and uncovered numerous instances where the onboard credit was higher for oceanview or inside staterooms than for balcony rooms or suites.
If you are self booking on the Royal Caribbean website, double check every screen. We found instances where choosing your own stateroom was lower priced than allowing the cruise line to choose, even though the top of the screen says you’ll save by letting them choose. We also found obstructed view rooms priced higher than those with perfect views. It pays to expect the unexpected.