We have cruised with Royal Caribbean each time and have become quite loyal to them. (They aren't getting stuck out at sea or running into rocks) The staff is incredibly friendly and service oriented. Cruising the second time was much easier than the 2nd and we hope it will be the same for the third. So here are some tips if you're considering a Royal Caribbean Cruise!
Pay your gratuity in advance. It is easier than having to pay the gratuity at the end of your trip. We included our gratuity in our package payment. This year gratuity went up 2 weeks before the cruise for anyone that didn't prepay. I was so glad that we did. Gratuity is for the following personnel:
|Suite attendant:||$7.25 USD||a day per guest|
|Stateroom attendant:||$5.00 USD||a day per guest|
|Dining Room Waiter:||$3.75 USD||a day per guest|
|Assistant Waiter:||$2.15 USD||a day per guest|
|Headwaiter:||$.75 USD||a day per guest|
2. Nix the window and balcony
Unless you really love windows and balconies, do without it.
There is usually a $30-100 difference between prices of rooms with balconies and windows. The first year we got a room that had a window and paid a little extra. We literally spent ZERO time in our rooms. Most of the time we were in our room it is at night and you can't see anything anyway. Save your money, get out of your room and enjoy the view from upstairs.
3. Soda and Juice Packages
Royal Caribbean offers Soda and Juice packages for those who prefer these options for meals. If you do not purchase the packages, your options for beverages are water, tea, and lemonade. This is very much so a choice that you should make based on personal preferences. However, we opted out of buying the packages for several reasons. A. We don't drink Soda. We weren't really missing anything without having a soda package. B. We love tea and lemonade! and C. You are allowed to carry on a certain amount of unopened juice or soda. We carried on 2 or 3 liters of ginger ale (for upset tummies) and individual small juices. There is a limit and they have to be unopened. They will be suspicious of those trying to sneak on Alcohol.
4. Eat Eat Eat
I'm a huge foodie and cruises have the most incredible food. Take advantage of this time to try new things. I never had the desire to try Escargot but it was amazing. We also tried conch fritters and fried conch, something we don't eat regularly in the states. Ask for more than one entree or desert! Our waiters were incredibly forward about us trying more than one thing. They would bring of two different deserts, and three different appetizers all the time. I made the most of this time to experience new cuisine and now that I'm blogging I will even try to replicate them. When you're on the Islands, indulge in Local Cuisine! You can eat McDonalds anytime, ask around for the best local spots and enjoy.
5. Carry On Bags
It takes your luggage a while sometimes to make it to your room.On one trip my bag didn't arrive at our room until almost 8:00 pm which was almost dinner time. I didn't want to go to dinner in my travel clothes so I luckily had extra in my carry on. For the first day of your cruise, pack a small carry-on bag with your travel documents, a change of clothes, bathing suit, maybe workout clothes, and any medications you may need. This will allow you to begin enjoying your vacation immediately, because you won't have to wait for your bags to arrive at your stateroom.
6. Pack for the season!
It is common for people to take cruises during Christmas and for Spring Break. While you may be going somewhere tropical and warm you still have to get there. Be conscious of the season. Is this the season for rain? Is this the season for chillier nights than days? We have been cruising in March with wonderful 80 degrees and up weather. However, there were times where being on the deck at night when the boat is traveling it's fastest, that it got very windy and somewhat chilly. Also, most trips to the beach or a cruise are not complete without at least one rain storm. Always pack a hoodie or sweater for some cold or rainy nights.
7. Cash Stash
I lose things...like I really lose things. One tip my parents gave me was to stash money in different places in the event you lose a wallet or purse. I usually keep cash in my suitcase, make-up bag, and a few pockets of select pants in case I lose money. Never keep all your money in one place because in the event you lose that wallet, ALL of your money is gone and that's never a good time. Also, cash is helpful on the Islands for buying souvenirs quick and easy.
8. Look into your itinerary
There are so many great things that the Cruise Line will have planned for you and your family to participate in. Comedy Shows, Musical Performances, Magic Shows, Karaoke, Bingo (with big prizes) and on deck parties are great!
9. Photo Ops!
Most cruise lines have photographers who are there to capture your moments when you're getting on and off the boat each day. Take as many as you can, I mean every chance you see a photographer take a picture. They are so funny to look at when they display them on your deck at the end of that day. Sometimes the pictures are pricey but some aren't (depending on size). I found a few last year that were hilarious and worth the money to have forever. They are also awesome quality pictures.
10. Drinks on the boat
Lots of people tried to sneak alcohol on the boat. Some got away with it, many didn't. However, there are some great drink specials on the boat. They have a drink of the day for $6.95 that comes in a glass souvenir cup that you can keep. The drink changes each day. They also have drink packages for more than soda. Alcohol
packages were about $55.00 a day.
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