Royal Caribbean International

Oasis of the Seas, during its construction, in Turku, Finland.

With a fleet that includes ten of  the world’s twelve biggest cruise ships, and a history of being at the forefront of cruising innovation, Royal Caribbean is one of the biggest names in the cruise business — and, among the mainstream lines, one of the best.

Big Ships, Innovative Features

Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest vessel, is the largest cruise ship in the world. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

The line’s push for larger and larger ships began with its launch of the 73,200-ton Sovereign of the Seas in 1988, then went supersized with the 1999 launch of the 138,000-ton, 3,114-guest Voyager of the Seas, which tore up the rule book for cruise ship design and attractions.

A decade later, fully half of the line’s fleet is made up of Voyager‘s sister ships and their newer and larger cousins, including the 5,400-guest Oasis of the Sea and Allure of the Seas, the current world record holders. Beyond size, Royal Caribbean has also been an innovator in terms of the kinds of things you can do aboard ships — from rock climbing, ice skating, and ziplining to seeing full-scale Broadway shows and strolling around in a 21,000-square-foot open-air tropical garden.

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

All in all, Royal Caribbean’s ships offer the largest variety of activities and sports facilities at sea, and the newer and bigger the ship, the more it offers.

Voyager-class ships offer rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, basketball and volleyball courts, miniature-golf courses, in-line skating tracks, enormous gyms and spas, and great children’s facilities that include an outdoor kids’ pool area with a waterslide. The larger Freedom-class ships add an on-deck surfing simulator, a huge kids’ water park full of water canons and sprayers, and a boxing ring in the gym. The Oasis-class ships take everything to the next level, with everything from the older ships plus a while open-air, “boardwalk”-themed district devoted to family entertainment, a huge outdoor pool that puts on high-dive shows, and some of the biggest kids’ facilities at sea.

While the line’s older Radiance-, Vision-, and Monarch-class ships don’t offer quite as many high-profile diversions, Royal Caribbean has been good at retrofitting some of the WOW elements from its newer ships to the older ones, where it can.

Entertainment on Royal Caribbean

The Alahambra Theatre aboard Independence of the Seas. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Entertainment-wise, Royal Caribbean is among the best at sea. Its newest ships, Oasis and Allure of the Seas, both feature real Broadway productions—Chicago: The Musical on Allure and Hairspray! on Oasis, and the line is working toward expanding that trend out to other ships in the fleet.

There are also song-and-dance revues, dance competitions, karaoke, and some amazing ice shows on the Voyager-, Freedom-, and Oasis-class ships.

Royal Caribbean For Families

Dreamworks characters – like the penguins from the movie Madagascar – turn up aboard Allure of the Seas. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

For kids, a recent and still-expanding partnerships with DreamWorks Animation brings characters from films like Madagascar, Shrek, and Kung Fu Panda aboard for parades, character breakfasts, photo ops, and other programming. Currently, the DreamWorks events are only aboard Oasis, Allure, Liberty, and Freedom of the Seas.

Features like the DreamWorks experience, the huge kids’ centers and nonstop kids’ activities, the outdoor water parks make Royal Caribbean one of the top two choices in the cruise business for families with young kids, along with Disney Cruise Line.

The Boardwalk, near Central Park aboard Oasis of the Seas. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has even begun catering to the babies-and-toddlers crowd, with “Royal Babies” interactive classes for parents and kids 6 to 36 months. Aboard Oasis, Allure, Freedom, Liberty, and Radiance of the Seas, there are also Royal Babies and Tots nurseries that offers professional care, playgroups, and activities for the youngest youngsters. Expect more nurseries to open across the fleet as Royal Caribbean continues to retrofit its newer innovations to its older vessels.

Dining On Royal Caribbean

Casual dining is always available in the Windjammer Cafe. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Dining aboard Royal Caribbean is a mix of cruise traditions and newer innovations. As aboard many other lines, you can choose to either take your dinner in the main restaurant at a fixed time, or you can choose the “My Time Dining” option and eat whenever it’s most convenient for you that day. You can also dine at one of the ships’ alternative, extra-cost specialty restaurants; have a casual dinner at the open-seating buffet restaurant; or grab a quick bite from a variety of coffee shops, pizzerias, and other options scattered around the ships.

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