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Royal Caribbean Cruising Guide & Tips - Royal Caribbean International - Cruising Earth

Royal Caribbean International - Cruising Earth

Royal Caribbean International - Cruising Guide & Tips

Royal Caribbean International
Cruising Guide & Tips Contents

The information below is specific to cruising with Royal Caribbean International.

For additional general cruise planning information, not specific to a cruise line, use: Cruising Earth's - Cruise Planning Guide.

Before Cruising

Royal Caribbean Ships In Cozumel
  • Identification required to cruise on Royal Caribbean:
    • For US Sailings:
      • Non-US Ctizens - Require a passport and the necessary visa for entry into the United States. On Transatlantic and Transpacific sailings European and Chinese guests will require ESTA (Europe) and EVUS (China).
      • If a cruise begins and ends in different US ports, or begins and ends in a foreign port a valid US Passport is required for all US citizens.
    • For International Sailings:
      • Non-US Citizens will require a passport book with a minimum of 6 months validity post the return of your sailing and the supporting visa for entry and exit from the country, if applicable.
      • US Passport Information: For US Passport information including current processing times.
    • Europe Sailings:
      • National ID cards issued in the European Union (EU) & European Economic Area (EEA) are accepted for travel to Schengen countries only and must be valid for at least one month from the return date.
      • Some itineraries may include a port of call outside the Schengen area. For those sailings, national ID cards will not be accepted, and passports are required for travel.
        • EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
        • UK & ROI citizens (including children and infants) must have their own full 10 year (5 year for children) passport with at least 6 months validity from the end of the cruise. ESTAs are mandatory for everyone travelling to the US. You must apply for an ESTA no later than 72 hours before departing for the United States. Real-time approvals are not available and arriving at the airport without a previously approved ESTA will likely result in being denied boarding. Some other countries also run similar programmes – so make sure you've checked the requirements well in advance. For further passport, visa and health advice for your destinations please visit the FCO (UK) or DFA (Ireland) websites, have a look at our visa page or refer to our Booking Conditions.
        • EEA countries: The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland is not an EU or EEA member but is part of the single market.
      Royal Caribbean European Fjord
    • It is important that the name on your reservation be exactly as it is stated on your passport or other official proof of nationality. If your name has changed since your document was issued (e.g., marriage or divorce), it is required that you update the document with the new name or provide an official supporting document (e.g., a state, county or province issued marriage license, divorce decree or legal name change document) of the name change. All documents must be the original or a notarized copy. Additionally, if you are using an identification (e.g., driver's license) and a citizenship document ( e.g., birth certificate), then BOTH documents must match the name on your reservation. Otherwise, it may result in delay or possible denial of boarding.
    • No refunds will be given to individuals who fail to bring proper documentation.
  • Parent / Guardian Release Forms: Minors (under the age of 18) cruising without both birth parents MUST have a travel release form signed.
    • Adults who are not the parent or legal guardian of a minor traveling with them must present an original, notarized letter signed by the child's parent(s) authorizing the adult to take the child on the specific cruise, supervise the child, and allow emergency medical treatment to be administered, if needed. This is necessary even when the adult traveling is part of the child’s extended family (i.e. aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc).
  • Travel Insurance: Buying travel insurance is always recommended. It is typically based off of the total price of your cruise, the destination(s), and the age of the traveler(s). Norwegian does offer travel insurance (BookSafe), but it is usually more expensive with less coverage than many third party insurance companies. We recommend you price out travel insurance at www.insuremytrip.com. You will find many options for insurance companies there with reviews. Norwegian's insurance coverage and pricing can be found at BookSafe Travel Insurance
  • Cruising Earth - Pre-Cruise Checklist: A checklist to help you in preparing and organizing for your cruise.

Tipping / Gratuities / Service Charges

  • The automatic "service gratuity" is $16.00 USD per person, per day for guests in non-suites staterooms, or $18.50 USD per person, per day for guests in Suites, will be applied to each guest’s SeaPass account on a daily basis.
  • The gratuity applies to individual guests of all ages and stateroom categories. As a way to reward our crew members for their outstanding service, gratuities are shared among dining, bar & culinary services staff, stateroom attendants and other hotel services teams who work behind the scenes to enhance the cruise experience.
  • In the unlikely event that a guest onboard being charged the daily automatic gratuity does not receive satisfactory service, the guest may request to modify the daily amount at their discretion by visiting Guest Services onboard and will be able to do so until the morning of their departure. Guests who have pre-paid their gratuity will not see a daily charge during their cruise.
  • The automatic daily gratuity is based on customary industry standards.
  • An 18% gratuity is automatically added to all beverages, mini bar items, and spa & salon purchases.
  • Royal Caribbean Sunshine Bar
  • Many cruisers will also tip these people: Bartenders (in addition to the 18% automatic gratuities), Waiters, Room Steward, Porters (for carrying your bags), Spa/Salon Service (in addition to the 18% automatic gratuities), Youth Program Staff, and Shore Tour Guides.
  • Guests can pre-pay gratuities by calling 866-562-7625 or logging into www.royalcaribbean.com before their sailing. The Pre-paid gratuities can be added to an individual reservation at any time outside of 48 hours of the sail date. If gratuities are not prepaid prior to sailing, they will be automatically added to the guests’ folios once onboard.
  • How you tip is a personal choice you need to make. These are just the facts to help you make a more informed decision.


Royal Caribbean Embarking In Miami
  • Guests can check in online using Rotal Caribbean's website up to 48 hours before sailing. Guests must complete check in using the Royal Caribbean app or at the terminal. Royal Caribbean highly recommends completing check in using the app for the easiest, fastest, and complete check-in experience.
  • Guests are urged to complete the online check-in at least one day prior to embarkation.
  • Royal Caribbean requires guests to be checked in no later than 60 minutes prior to the scheduled sailing time. Guests arriving late will not be permitted to sail.
  • When checking in at the terminal, show your SetSail Pass in the Royal Caribbean app to the terminal agent to scan and complete the check-in process.
  • Guests may also bring non-alcoholic beverages as carry-on items on boarding day. Non-alcoholic beverages may not exceed 12 standard (17 oz.) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom. Milk and distilled water brought on for infant, medical, or dietary use are permitted.
  • All guests are prohibited from bringing alcohol on board our ships - the ONLY exception being: On boarding day, each stateroom may bring up to two 750 ml bottles of wine or champagne, as long as one guest is of legal drinking age. When bottles are brought on board and served or consumed in any restaurant or public area, a $15.00 USD corkage fee will be charged per bottle.
  • Additional bottles of wine beyond two (2) bottles that are brought onboard or any alcoholic beverages purchased in ports of call or from onboard shops during the cruise vacation will be stored onboard and delivered to guest staterooms on the last day of the sailing.
  • On embarkation day, you may bring snacks on board with you. There is no specified limit as to how much you can bring, but keep in mind it is not hard to find food at any time of the day while onboard the ship.
  • Bring your bathing suit and a change of clothes in your carry on. Sometimes it takes a while for you to get the rest of your luggage. Some people just wear their bathing suit under their clothes so they can enjoy the pool and hot tubs as soon as they get on the ship.
  • Make sure your cellular phone and/or mobile devices are in "Airplane Mode" or off as soon as you set sail. You definitely don't want at sea roaming charges. Just receiving junk mail on your phone or device over the length of the cruise can end up costing you hundreds of dollars in data roaming charges, be careful! Check with your specific cellular carrier for their at sea roaming rates.
  • In all ports of call, it is also the guest's responsibility to be back onboard the ship no later than one (1) hour prior to the ship's scheduled departure time. Please be aware that shipboard time may differ from the port of call and it is the guest's responsibility to follow the shipboard time. In the event a guest misses the ship, it will be the guest's responsibility to pay all expenses incurred to rejoin the ship.


Royal Caribbean Junior Balcony Suite Stateroom
  • Free shampoo, and body wash (liquid soap) in the shower. It is not the best quality but if you forget yours, or aren't picky about brands it'll work.
  • There is a hairdryer in every cabin. It typically can be found in either the bathroom or in the desk/vanity drawer.
  • There is a safe in every room that is free to use. It is located in either the closet or a cabinet, it is free to use.
  • There is a mini fridge in every cabin. It is usually not set to a very cool temperature. If you have a need to keep something at a regulated temperature (medicine, milk, etc) you need to fill out a special needs request..
  • Room Service is currently free on all but the Norwegian Getaway & Breakaway. Othose two ships you will find an upgraded room service menu and a $7.95 flat charge per order. Most people tip the person who delivers the food to your cabin.
  • You can set automated wake-up calls for yourself on your cabin phone.
  • The couch in many cabins has drawers built in underneath.
  • There is lots of room under the bed to store all your suitcases so you don't have to have them out taking up room.
  • Bring a bungee cord so you can keep your balcony door open, or you can use a supplied door stop wedge in the door frame. Some balcony doors will also stay open on there own.
  • On some ships the balcony door frame has a magnetic contact on the door frame. The ships with this feature will shut off the air conditioner when you leave your balcony door open. Simply put a small refrigerator magnet over the contact and your air conditioner will continue to run while the door is open.

On Deck

  • "Amplified Pool Deck" is being rolled out on 10 Royal Caribbean ships. This upgrade is doubling the pool’s surface area to cover the deck with tons of space to lounge, swim, and siesta. Included is a new signature bar, The Lime and Coconut, with a Caribbean vibe across three decks overlooking the poolside. The hot tubs have moved up a deck, creating great ocean views. Two casual spots have been added to grab burgers and tacos nearby your lounge chair.
    • Ships currently with "Amplified Pool Deck" - Oasis of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, and Freedom of the Seas.
    • Ships expecting "Amplified Pool Deck" - Allure of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, and Adventure of the Seas. These 4 ships were expected to have their upgrades done in 2020 and 2021, but due to COVID these upgrades have been delayed indefinitley.
  • Don't be a chair hog on deck! Don't try to save chairs for your friends that are "on the way" or are "coming right back" when they truly aren't and/or you really don't know when they may be coming.
  • Put down a towel on your balcony chair if you're wearing white. There may be a light layer of soot and it shows on white clothing.
Royal Caribbean Cruise At Night

Food / Beverage

  • Flavored water, coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, unsweetened iced tea, lemonade, fruit juice, milk, chocolate milk, and water (fountain, not bottled) are free throughout the cruise.
  • There are at least two complimentary food locations onboard every Royal Carribean ship. They are the Main Dining Room and the Windjammer Café — known as Windjammer Marketplace on select ships. Both serve breakfast, lunch and dinner complimentary with your cruise fare.
  • Royal Caribbean Room Service
    • Room service is available 24/7.
    • Aside from complimentary continental breakfast, room service comes at a cost of $7.95 USD per order, per room. This is a fixed-cost, so you will pay the same fee whether ordering one dish for one person in a cabin or eight separate items for four people in a cabin.
    • An 18% gratuity is added on top of the $7.95 USD fee for a total cost of $9.40 USD.
    • It is customary to give a small cash tip ($1.00-$5.00 USD) to the crew member delivering room service to your room.
    • Drinks are not included with room service, even if you have a beverage package.
  • Johnny Rockets Menu - Johnny Rockets, the 1950s-themed eatery, has locations onboard several Royal Caribbean ships.
  • Chops Grille Menus - Chops Grille is a steakhouse which also serves fish, lamb, pork and chicken entrees.
  • Giovanni's Table Menus - Giovanni's Table is an upscale Italian restaurant found onboard. Options feature Italian cuisine inspired appetizers, soups, pasta dishes, main courses and desserts.
  • Royal Caribbean Beverage Packages
  • Beverage Packages - You can buy the drink package at any time up to 48 hours before your ship sails, or once onboard. Buying a drink package in advance will save you money, because it will cost more onboard the ship. Pre-purchased Beverage Packages are active the moment you step onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise. When you purchase a Royal Caribbean drink package, a gratuity (18%) will be assessed on your purchase at that time, this covers all of your subsequent drink order gratuities. Once onboard the ship, beverage packages are non-refundable and non-transferable.
    • Deluxe Beverage Package - Enjoy unlimited drinks and options all cruise long.
      • The price per day of the Deluxe Beverage Package varies from ship to ship, and sailing to sailing. Expect to pay betweeen $48.00 USD and $80.00 USD per day per guest (excluding gratuity).
      • Royal Caribbean requires all passengers 21 years of age and older (18 years in Australia and the U.K) to purchase the Deluxe Beverage Package if at least one other person in their cabin has purchased the package. Exemptions on this rule are hard to get.
      • The Deluxe Beverage Package includes drinks with liquor up to $13 in value.
      • What's Included:
        • Cocktails, spirits, liqueurs
        • Beer
        • Wine (by the glass)
        • Mocktails
        • Premium coffees & teas
        • Fountain sodas / Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages
        • Coca-Cola souvenir cup included
        • Bottled still and sparkling water
        • Fresh squeezed juices
        • 40% discount on wines under $100. Wines above $100 will receive a 20% discount.
      • What's Not Included:
        • Drinks with liquor over $13.00 USD in value, however a portion of the drink price is subsidized by the beverage package.
        • Drinks that are served in a souvenir cup/glass/mug and/or drinks served inside fruit (i.e. pineapples) are not included with the drink package, however a portion of the drink price is subsidized by the beverage package.
      Royal Caribbean Ship Top Deck
    • Refreshment Package - This drink package includes almost all beverages onboard, except for alcohol. It is popular with older children and adults who do not plan to consume much alcohol.
      • The price per day for the Refreshment Package is $29.00 USD per guest (excluding gratuity).
      • Whats Included:
        • Fountain soda and refills at any venue
        • Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages
        • Coca-Cola souvenir cup
        • Non-alcoholic cocktails (mocktails)
        • Still and sparkling water
        • Premium coffees and teas
        • Fresh-squeezed juices
    • Classic Soda Package - The Classic Soda package is what was once called by many guests, "the soda card". It is unlimited soda and very popular with kids and adults.
      • The price per day of the Classic Soda Package is $12.99 USD per guest (excluding gratuity).
      • Whats Included:
        • Fountain Soda and refills in any venue
        • Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages
        • Coca-Cola Souvenir Cup included
    • Water Package - You can order water in various sized packages (6, 12 or 24 packs) at a discounted price. The Water Package will be delivered to your stateroom on the date you request.

Ports / Excursions

Royal Caribbean Excursions
  • Booking Excursions
    • You do not have to book shore excursions through the cruise line.
    • If you do a little pre-cruise research and planning on your own you can book your excursions directly.
    • Benefits of Booking Excursions Directly / Independently:
      • Booking directly typically will save you 20% or more.
      • There will be more excursion options.
      • You will typically have more time to book, cruise line sponsored excursions tend to book up quicker.
      • You will likely be in a smaller group, or possibly even in a private excursion. If this is the case you will be able to see and experience more.
    • Benefits of Booking Excursions Through Royal Caribbean:
      • All excursion companies you book through Royal Caribbean have been vetted by Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean stands behind the excursions they offer, which means they have certified the tour operator provides the proper equipment, performs the tour in a safe environment with proper gear.
      • If the excursion runs late Royal Caribbean guarantees you will get back on the ship. It you are a little late Royal Caribbean will hold the ship for you. If you are alot late Royal Caribbean will make all the arrangements for you to return to the ship at no expense to you.
      • Weather, medical emergencies, mechanical issues, etc. can cause ports to be missed. If you miss a port and you booked the excursion through Royal Caribbean you will get your money back, without any hassle. If you are booking an excursion independently (not through Royal Caribbean) make sure to ask whether or not you get your deposit back if the ship misses that port. Almost all reputable companies will give you a full refund of any money you prepaid, but you may have to spend time contacting them which is not always easy if you are onboard.
    Royal Caribbean Excursion - Labadee Haiti Zip Line
  • Make sure you leave plenty of time to get back on the ship. Missing the ship is a good way to ruin your vacation and put a dent in your savings account. Everyday, somewhere in the world guests miss their cruise ship, you don't want to be one of them!
  • When the ship is in port you can always come back on the ship to drop off packages, get changed, etc. and leave the ship again. Just remember to be back an hour before the ship is scheduled to leave port.
  • Look for specials in the Spa / Salon on port days.
  • There are typically drink specials / happy hour at the bars onboard on port days.

Wi-Fi / Internet Access

  • All Royal Caribbean ships now have VOOM Wireless Internet Access (Wi-Fi) onboard accessible from bow to stern.
  • VOOM is faster than any many other internet plans offered by other cruise lines. You will be able to stream music and movies, upload pictures, video chat with family and friends using FaceTime or Skype, check your email, look your stock prices, surf the web and stay connected with work (if that's really something you want to do).
  • The "Voom Surf and Stream" package is available for $17.99 USD per day, per device. "Voom Surf and Stream" also offers discounts for multiple devices, with a family rate starting from $11.99 USD per device, per day.
  • Your Wi-Fi package purchased onboard or on Cruise Planner will also be active on CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's private island.
  • The best speeds will typically be late at night, or early in the morning and during the day on port days when there are less passengers onboard to share bandwidth with.
  • All Wi-Fi internet access charges will be billed directly to your onboard account.
Royal Caribbean VOOM Wi-Fi


  • "Self-Assist Early Departure" - Royal Caribbean offers "Self Assist Early Departure" for those guests who want to be off the ship early and can manage their luggage themselves.
    • The night before departure, please keep your luggage in your stateroom and take it with you when you leave. Luggage tags are not required.
    • On departure morning, your invoice will be delivered to your stateroom. Please depart before the specified time with all of your luggage.
    • Proceed to the gangway with your bags and SeaPass card to depart, and after the immigration and custom checks, proceed to the transportation area.
  • Regular Departure
    • The night before departure, please place name tags on all your bags and leave them outside of your stateroom door by the time specified. Make sure to keep flight tickets, passport/proof of citizenship, and any valuables with you. A video overview of the disembarkation process will be shown on your stateroom television.
    • On departure morning, your invoice will be delivered to your stateroom. Enjoy breakfast or relax in your designated departure lounge until your number is called.
    • Proceed to the gangway with your SeaPass card to depart and then head to the baggage claim area corresponding with your luggage tag number, and after the immigration and custom checks, proceed to the transportation area.
  • In some ports you can take advantage of our “Easy Walk-Off”. This means you can leave the ship as soon as it is cleared by local authorities, carrying all your own luggage off the vessel.
  • Have a passport, lines for passenger's with birth certificates at Customs can be quite long. Some ports are worse than others.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Terminal Miami
Page last updated: Sat Jan 27, 2024
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