Finding the Right Ship for You
Learn how Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships vary, and find the perfect fit for your vacation.
By: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Blog Staff
You may be familiar with some of Royal Caribbean’s 26 different cruise ships, but the different cruise classes can take a bit more time to grasp. Not to worry; we’ve featured a quick breakdown of all eight classes of ships (soon to be nine with the addition of Icon Class in 2022), so you can find the one (or a few) that best matches the type of vacation you want.
Featuring the four largest cruise ships in the world (yes, you read that right!), Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, the game-changing Oasis Class offers a variety of adventures you can taste and explore.
Who Will Love It: Everyone—from friends to couples and family members of all ages. The best things about these ships are their many different experiences, including zip lining, rock climbing, FlowRider surf simulators, waterslides, chart-topping nightlife, specialty and complimentary restaurants and scenic evening strolls.
What You’ll Get: There’s so much to experience within the ships’ seven distinct neighborhoods, including the lush Central Park (which has more than 20,700 living plants); the Royal Promenade, featuring dining, bars and lounges (even one that moves—Rising Tide), and shopping; and the Boardwalk, a lively area inspired by seaside piers and nostalgic landmarks like Coney Island. Plus, with the Ultimate Abyss—the tallest slide at sea—also to come on board Oasis and Allure after they’ve each been reimagined with $165 million amplifications in November 2019 and May 2020, respectively—you can take a shortcut 10 decks down within a matter of minutes!
Oasis Class ships will also introduce you to the FlowRider, a guest favorite. The two 40-foot surf simulators on board are the only places where you can catch waves in the middle of the ocean.
Your dining options may actually seem endless with a lineup that ranges from handmade tagliatelle bolognese at renowned chef Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian, to fresh sushi, sashimi and hibachi cooking at Izumi. Oasis and Allure will also feature the new Portside BBQ, with a menu inspired by popular barbecue styles from across the United States. Factor in Mexican street fare and classic Italian dishes as well as New England-inspired seafood and hand-cut steaks (plus so much more). There’s truly something for every palate.
What’s more, all of the entertainment on board is complimentary, and it’s some of the best you’ll find anywhere—spanning air, water, ice and stage. Take in Broadway shows (think Hairspray and Grease), show-stopping, original productions like Flight: Dare to Dream, and don’t miss our other performance venue, Studio B, an ice-skating rink that also doubles as a glow-in-the-dark laser tag experience. Craving some outdoor thrills? Watch aerialists, acrobats and high divers perform unbelievable stunts against an ocean backdrop at the AquaTheater.
Where It Goes: Allure, Harmony, Oasis and Symphony offer seven-night Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries departing from Florida, with Allure, Harmony and Symphony all making stops at Perfect Day at CocoCay—Royal Caribbean’s new private island in The Bahamas. Oasis will also sail to Perfect Day at CocoCay when it repositions to the New York area beginning May 10, 2020.
Interested in a European vacation? Allure will head to Europe for the summer in May 2020, and sail seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries from Barcelona, Spain.
You don’t need to understand quantum physics to remember this ship class—just know that plenty of science went into the features that define Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas.
Who Will Love It: Adventurers of all types, as well as the tech and food lovers in your family.
What You’ll Get: Thrill-seekers can find their fill of action as soon as they step on board. They can head to the industry’s first skydiving simulator or the bumper cars and trapeze school at the largest indoor activity space at sea, SeaPlex, get a workout and catch unbeatable views on the outdoor rock-climbing wall, and test their surfing skills on the FlowRider. On top of all that, there’s also the North Star, an observation capsule that takes you 300 feet in the air for breathtaking, 360-degree views of Alaska.
As if that’s not high-tech enough, our robotic bartenders at the Bionic Bar will mix your cocktails with laser precision, and at Wonderland (one of many specialty restaurants), you’ll find whimsical cuisine and craft cocktails served in glasses dipped into a cloud of liquid nitrogen that chills them to below-zero degrees. In the cutting-edge Two70° venue, jaws will drop at the singing, dancing and aerial entertainment. Vistarama technology transforms Two70’s floor-to-ceiling screens into cityscapes, while agile Roboscreens (the first robotic entertainment at sea) interact with the dancers, acrobats and singers to create a powerful show. Meanwhile, at Music Hall, a Quantum Class favorite, catch live cover bands with revolving set lists.
Where It Goes: Anthem will take you to the Caribbean and The Bahamas from New York (including a mix of thrills and ways to chill at Perfect Day at CocoCay), Bermuda, New England and Canada (hello, leaf peeping season!). In summer 2020, she will cross the Atlantic to sail from Southampton, England for the summer, visiting coastal towns along the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the Canary Islands.
Spectrum, the newest member of the Royal Caribbean family, sails from Shanghai and heads to other far-flung destinations including China and Japan, while Quantum cruises around Asia, the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, depending on the time of year.
Recently, Ovation made her Alaska debut with seven-night itineraries from Seattle. The ship will return to The Last Frontier again in summer 2020, this time making stops at the breathtaking Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
Who Will Love It: Anyone looking for off-the-beaten-path itineraries, from destinations to length.
What You’ll Get: Loads of pools and whirlpools, and, on Liberty and Independence, the kid-friendly Splashaway Bay aquapark and The Perfect Storm duo of racer waterslides. (Available on the amplified Freedom in March 2020.) In 2018, Independence of the Seas was reimagined in a $90 million amplification and became the first ship to debut Sky Pad, an out-of-this-world VR, bungee trampoline adventure.
With the transformation of Independence comes additional dining options, including Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, Izumi Hibachi & Sushi and Fish & Ships, a poolside eatery where guests can grab quintessentially British seaside treats. As for what to eat in 2020, Freedom will debut the first Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, a new take on a guest favorite. This reimagined, rustic spot will serve up all the Italian classics—from made-to-order pizzas hand tossed front and center and baked in the new pizza oven, to piping hot pastas—and a wide selection of wines and limoncellos.
Guests can also enjoy Broadway-style entertainment like Grease, original productions, Studio B’s one-of-a-kind ice skating shows, and, of course, FlowRider: Freedom was the first cruise ship (ever) to introduce the iconic, 40-foot-long surf simulator. Plus, Royal Caribbean’s award-winning Adventure Ocean kids program and Teen Spaces will take on a whole new look next year with spaces that have been entirely transformed from top to bottom.
Where It Goes: Independence offers four- and five-night itineraries to the Western Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, seven-night itineraries to France, Spain and Portugal from Southhampton, England, and 11-night itineraries through the Canary Islands (which also depart from Southampton). Her current European season will end in November 2019.
Freedom sails from San Juan, Puerto Rico year-round, and will visit exotic destinations in the Southern Caribbean on seven-night cruises in March 2020, while Liberty calls Galveston, Texas home and offers seven-night Caribbean and Mexico itineraries all year.
If you’re looking to trek around the world, there’s a good chance you’ll do it on board one of the five Voyager Class ships: Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, and the newly amplified Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas.
Who Will Love It: First-time cruisers and those looking for short, adventure-packed vacations.
What You’ll Get: With a gravity-defying bungee trampoline, a thrilling pair of three-story-high racer waterslides, an epic glow-in-the-dark battle for the last planet in the galaxy and Royal Caribbean’s newest escape room challenge, there’s no shortage of action on board Voyager Class ships. Mariner debuted a $115 million new look in 2018, with Sky Pad and The Perfect Storm waterslides. Navigator put a completely new, daring spin on thrills with The Blaster aqua coaster, the longest waterslide at sea, and Riptide, the industry’s only head-first mat racer waterslide. Both ships also now feature Battle for Planet Z and Royal Escape Room: The Observatorium.
When the sun goes down, these ships come alive across different hot spots. Several are lined up along the Royal Promenade, which is a destination in itself and regularly hosts parades and dance parties. Both Mariner and Navigator feature The Bamboo Room, our Polynesian-themed watering hole with kitschy-cool cocktails, and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, where guests can enjoy excellent food, a lineup of ice-cold, craft beers and amazing desserts like the campfire cookie—which is freshly baked and covered with roasted marshmallows and ice cream. Having originally debuted on Voyager Class, the Royal Promenade also touts Chops Grille steakhouse, Hooked Seafood and Starbucks.
Also on Navigator is To Dry For, the first standalone blow-dry bar at sea. Pop in for a quick beauty fix and a complimentary glass of wine or champagne before your night out!
Where It Goes: Around the world! These ships sail from Australia to Alaska, traverse the South Pacific and Asia, and of course, cruise to the Caribbean. If you’re a first-time cruiser or looking for a short getaway, Mariner and Navigator are the perfect options—both ships offer 4-night weekday and 3-night weekend Caribbean cruises (visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay) from Orlando (Port Canaveral) and Miami, Florida.
With Radiance Class ships Jewel of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas, it feels like you’re outdoors even when you’re inside. These ships are lined with acres of glass for amazing views of the ocean, sunsets and your destinations.
Who Will Love It: Explorers and photographers of all talent levels, whether shooting for Instagram or a frame.
What You’ll Get: There’s more to see besides the views—though with hundreds of prime lookouts, it may be tough to ignore them! Plan to hit up the outdoor movie screen, full-scale entertainment productions in the three-story theater, Casino Royale (a 6,459-square-foot, Vegas-style casino) and plenty of restaurants, bars, clubs and lounges.
Where It Goes: Our four Radiance Class ships sail to the Caribbean, Alaska, throughout Europe, across the pacific, Hawaii, Australia, Canada and New England—imagine places like Alexandria, Egypt, Rome and Barcelona. Other exotic departure points include Copenhagen, Denmark and Dubai. Serenade also calls on Perfect Day at CocoCay and will return to Alaska for the first time in 11 years, joining Ovation and Radiance.
Some of us look out for the finer things in life. Enchantment of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Vision of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas make up our smaller-sized Vision Class, and take you to any corner of the world in style and comfort.
Who Will Love It: Guests looking to kick back in class.
What You’ll Get: The popular Vitality Spa, offering hot-stone massages, detox wraps, facials and more, an outdoor, poolside movie screen; several swimming pools—including the adults-only Solarium—and whirlpools. When you wrap up your day of lounging, take in original performances like Can’t Stop the Rock in the main theater, play blackjack at Casino Royale, or live it up at the classic Champagne Bar or Latin-themed Boleros lounge.
Where It Goes: Anywhere you’d want to see, from the Caribbean (including the unparalleled Perfect Day at CocoCay) to Halifax, Nova Scotia and Palma de Mallorca, Spain; across the Atlantic, throughout the South Pacific, and to Asia and Australia.
Sovereign and Empress Class
Who Will Love It: Anyone looking for a cruise to crystal clear waters and warm weather, as well as a dedicated crew you’ll get to know by name.
What You’ll Get: Pools, whirlpools, plenty of bars and lounges, activities like rock climbing, SCUBA diving certifications and dance classes, as well as a casino, and a full-service spa to keep you relaxed and entertained as you island hop. Not to mention unlimited mimosas and Bloody Marys when you purchase the bottomless brunch!
Where It Goes: From easy-to-access departure cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Cape Liberty, New Jersey; and Montreal, Quebec, these ships set course for the Caribbean, The Bahamas and Mexico. Majesty will make her Big Easy debut when she arrives to her new homeport of New Orleans in January 2020, sailing year-round to The Bahamas, including Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Whether you’re looking for an adventure of epic proportions on Oasis Class ships, a high-tech vacation on board the Quantum Class or a short, action-packed getaway aboard our Voyager Class ships, find the ship and cruise that’s just right for you and your crew here.