Tuesday, December 12

Cruise Line Review: Royal Caribbean International

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Royal Caribbean cruise ships are easy to identify. The name of each ship ends with the words “of the seas.” This makes them sound elegant when said. Names like “Enchantment of the Seas” or “Oasis of the Seas” are typical of Royal Caribbean’s fleet. Besides the unique naming method, Royal Caribbean has numerous other traits that help its brand identity stand apart from the competition.

Royal Caribbean tends to build the biggest ships first.

While each cruise line strives to launch larger and larger ships to increase their respective passenger capacities, it seems that Royal Caribbean is always a step ahead. Some of their more recent successes in having the largest of the giant ships on the seas can be seen in Voyager of the Seas and the most recent Oasis of the Seas. Both of these ships set new size standards when they were launched. Each one increased passenger space by about 1,000 people over the competitions larger ships.

This cruise line usually wins the race for new on board amenities.

It was Royal Caribbean that first offered the equivalent of a main street down the center of the ship. This not only enhanced the shopping experience for the passengers, but it allowed the cruise line to offer premium inside cabins with windows that looked out over the interior activity of the ship. These cabins no longer needed a curtain hanging on one end of the room to imply a window where there was none. These rooms may not have a great ocean view, but they definitely lost their cave-like feeling.

Rock climbing walls and surf pools were early arrivals on Royal Caribbean.

With the increased size of the ships, Royal Caribbean was able to add large areas for passenger activities. Rock climbing walls, surf pools, and large screen outdoor theaters led the fray. Additional swimming areas and improved deck space have also been incorporated on the newer Royal Caribbean ships.

Of the four cruise lines reviewed, Royal Caribbean was by far the most efficient at embarkation.

Costa Cruise Lines came in a close second, but at Royal Caribbean, from arrival until standing on board the ship took less than fifteen minutes. This may not be the case at every port, but at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it was how it played out. The boarding would have been faster, but a paper had to be read and signed for the Centers for Disease Control regarding the latest disease before being allowed onto the ship.

The food on Royal Caribbean is about standard fare for cruise ships.

Actually, the food on Carnival ships tends to be slightly better than on Royal Caribbean. All cruise ship food is excellent, but once several cruises have been experienced, the initial “wow” fades a little. This allows the food to be sampled with a slightly more critical approach.

The cabin and dining room service were top flight.

As on all cruise ships, the cabin was serviced at least twice per day. The attendant was readily available when needed and was always friendly. In the dining room, the staff understood the guests wants and called each person by name. The food arrived in a timely manner with the hot food being hot and cold food being well chilled. Drinks were refilled quickly before the glass or cup was empty.

Royal Caribbean offers the standard type of shore excursions and on board spa treatments.

There is very little difference between the shore excursions for the cruise lines because they all stop at the same ports. The same is true for the spa treatments. You will be offered whatever best selling treatments are currently.

The ships are always clean and well maintained.

Royal Caribbean does a great job of keeping the age of its ships hidden. They are continually cleaned, painted, and repaired. The guest areas and staterooms always appear in like new condition.

When booking, Royal Caribbean shows a high level of customer care.

Whether you use a travel agent or book directly with the cruise line, you will find that Royal Caribbean delivers what is promised. All paper work arrives in a timely manner and is complete. Questions are quickly answered and concerns are resolved. Guest relations on the ship are also responsive and helpful.

The cost of a Royal Caribbean cruise is slightly higher than some of the competition.
 
A quick perusal of the other cruise lines will show that some of the other cruise lines offer prices ten to twenty percent lower than most Royal Caribbean cruises. This amounts to about $100 per passenger on a five night cruise and closer to $200 per passenger on a seven night cruise. There are deals to be found, but you have to work hard to spot them. They are usually the result of last minute efforts to fill a few remaining vacancies before the departure date. The cruise lines that are routinely cheaper are Carnival, Costa, and Norwegian.

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