We have cruised with Royal Caribbean several times before on the Independence of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas; both different in size but each have a common denominator – a life and soul, in a class of its own. So why should you cruise with Royal Caribbean?
We love both Independence of the Seas (Indy) and Harmony of the Seas, when I refer to we, I’m talking initially about myself, my husband and my daughters (aged 9 and 12). With that said, you’ll find my parents on board for half of a year, O.K, slight exaggeration, possibly a quarter of a year and also my brother and his wife, once or twice a year. The addiction is fast spreading throughout the family unit and is slowly infecting our friends too. The more the merrier, I say!
Independence (Freedom Class) was for sometime the largest ship in the 27 strong fleet, until Oasis class ships left the dry docks to sail the oceans. After that came the Quantum class of ships and I do believe there is to be a whole new class of ship coming soon, watch this space.
You have probably gathered that Royal Caribbean release and group their ships, usually around 3 or 4 ships in each class. They currently have 7 different classes: Oasis Class, Quantum Class, Freedom Class, Voyager Class, Vision Class, Radiance Class and Sovereign Class. The classes given are pretty much in sizeable order. In fact Oasis Class is home to the largest cruise ship in the entire world – Symphony of the Seas, which is the sister ship to Harmony of the Seas. The different classes offer a wide range of ships from small to inconceivable! If you’re someone who enjoys the more intimate ships then Vision, Radiance, or Sovereign will be perfectly suited to you. If like us, you prefer a ship whereby you can escape the moment and take some time out to dream, whilst looking out over the horizon, then the medium sized class will be suited to you; Voyager and Freedom class. However, if you want to go all out big guns, and have stamina then the Oasis and Quantum class ships will be just what the doctor ordered. These ships are HUGE and literally cast shadows over which ever port they are docked in. If you do not take regular exercise and walk the length of these ships a couple of times throughout the day, believe me, your body will know about it. Probably just as well with the amount of calories you’ll consume throughout your cruise holiday but OMG, these giants, they are most definitely a-maz-ing! The ships in each class are almost identical, therefore Royal Caribbean make it easy for you, the consumer, to tailor your cruise to your own individual needs. You could for example, choose to cruise on either Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas or Liberty of the Seas and you will not find yourself wasting valuable time looking at the way finders because, they’re pretty much identical. This clever little tactic enables the consumer to choose, not by ship but by ports and destinations, which of course is incredibly important and the reason why many people now choose to cruise rather than take a land based holiday. Genius!
You can expect to find approximately 2-3 exquisite dining rooms on board each ship, where you can choose from either two set times, usually 6pm and 8pm or you can choose freedom dining, this gives you, as it states, the freedom to eat when you choose, however you might expect to wait a short while with this option, and will often be issued with a pager when a table becomes free.
There is something for everyone on the menu in the dining rooms, just because you cant see it, does not mean that the wonderful staff can’t get it. My youngest is a fussy eater, chicken and chips is pretty much her limit. The staff go out of their way to please the customers. My fussy daughter, she just loves all of the attention., especially when they are making her as many origami animals as time allows.
In addition to the dining rooms, there is also a self-service/buffet style restaurant where you can explore a world of new flavors. The Windjammer marketplace has strategically placed food stations offering a huge range of dishes from all over the globe, think taste buds go globe trotting. Staff in the Windjammer are as always, attentive. They aim to meet each and every individual need.
A handful of complimentary restaurants can also be found on board a Royal Caribbean ship, serving up delicious mouth watering pizzas, baguettes, cakes, sweet treats and much, much more. Would you believe my husband was even able to pick up a daily newspaper on one of our two week cruises?
If all of those restaurants weren’t enough, you could chose to book one of the many specialty restaurants. This will cost you a little extra as it does not come under the remit of all inclusive, but is well worth the value for money and will leave you satisfied but wanting more out of sheer greed.
My children do not know where to begin when it comes to keeping themselves entertained on board, this is not for any reason other than the fact that there is simply so much to do. A two week cruise only just about allows them to have the time to do it all; Rock climbing, surfing, swimming, crazy golf, zip lining, water slides, ultimate abyss, ice skating and now, with the latest additions, they will have laser tag and VR trampolining too! Of course sometimes you will find them chilling on their loungers with an ice cream or mocktail, a good book and the odd friend who they’ve met along the way. Adventure Ocean, the award winning kids club, is perfect for children who wish to make new friends and spend time with their peers rather than with their grown ups. The age range is from 6 months up to 17 years of age. You never hear the parents\guardians complain. Did you know that in 2014, Royal Caribbean became the first Autism friendly cruise line? That’s what I call winning.
The fun doesn’t stop there. Adults can join in the party too, among all of the activities named above, with the exception of Adventure Ocean, adults can partake in Zumba classes, the infamous poolside belly flop competition, attend the gym with an ocean perspective, polish up in the salon, walk the top deck so many times for a charity, relax whilst watching a classic movie on the big screen in the beach style pool or simply chill out in one of the adult only infinity whirlpools. Sounds like pure bliss right?
In the evening you can expect a whole host of fun – including activities, quizzes, games, karaoke, silent discos, crew crazy street parties and first class shows, I repeat, first class shows! I feel the need to reiterate that fact because I am so sick and tired of television talent shows referring to their contestants as “only cruise ship worthy” that I gave up watching them years ago. The TV talent show that is, not the shows on board a Royal Caribbean (RCCL). I can say first hand how extraordinary these shows really are. For example, I have seen West End shows in London and whilst they are breathtaking, so are the the majority of shows I have been privileged to on board. I have laughed, cried and been left utterly speechless by performers and am always left wanting to see more. It doesn’t stop there though, anticipation builds in Studio B as the professional ice skaters, from all over the world, meticulously prepare for their grand finale, which includes all sorts of fancy footwork, lifts, turns, spins and god only knows what else. I truly commend these wondrous people. After all, they are carrying out moves such as the headbanger, on ice, in the middle of the ocean, on a cruise ship! Go Fathom…
Wait, there is more. If you decide to book your cruise through Royal Caribbean and choose an Oasis class ship, you will have an extra show, one that none of the other classes of ship has on offer just yet. The Aqua theater can be found at the hull (back) of the ship and is a large outdoors theater, featuring a large pool, tightropes, harness’ Lycra and some world class athletes, all putting together a heart stopping performance for your pleasure. I am not going to spoil this for you as it’s a first at sea, and only at sea on an Oasis class ship will you ever be able to have this bucket list experience. If you want to know more, you will have to get on board. You know you want to!
Royal Caribbean have a large variety on offer when it comes to choosing where you’ll be sleeping. I’m fully aware that not everyone thinks of this as a priority, and choosing is circumstantial. On our first cruise, our youngest was going through a stage of climbing on anything she could get a grip on. With this in mind and not having a clue what to expect from a cruise, we opted for an inside stateroom. At this time, and whilst both the girls were little, we found the room to be a good size, with super comfy beds. I believe all the double beds are Super King. The children’s beds are much smaller but certainly a novelty. Our girls loved (and still do) the “magic” beds that come out of the ceiling which have railings, their very own lights and ladder. The girls also found it amusing to be above our bed, on either side. The room includes a sofa, vanity desk, table, interactive TV, large wardrobe, safety deposit box, hairdryer and a shower/washroom with a toilet. Although the shower room is small, it has plenty of space for one. Besides, size doesn’t matter when you have a shower so powerful you get a plastic free exfoliation at the same time.
We tend to book balcony staterooms nowadays, for the main purpose of morning perspectives. There is nothing quite like opening your eyes to see an endless horizon on a sea day, mountains meet ocean perspective when sailing into the South of France, or what feels like your very own personal sunset/sunrise from the comfort of your stateroom. The balcony rooms are similar to an inside cabin, except for the obvious. Some are larger than others and some have a double pull out sofa bed for the children, rather than the “magic” ceiling pull outs. Naturally, the price of your cruise will rise depending on your choice of accommodation.
We were incredibly grateful and honored to receive an upgrade on board Harmony of the Seas’ Maiden Voyage. We were upgraded from an inside stateroom to the Aqua Suite! I mean, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. One is not used to that kind of treatment. The suite stay was quite simply a surreal experience. Don’t get me wrong, if we could ever afford to stay in a suite of this grading then I’m sure we would. The Royal Aqua suite has two separate rooms inside one huge room, one for the children and one for the adults. The balcony stretches part way across the stern, with loungers, plants, a telescope and panoramic view of that endless horizon. What a tremendous way to see and capture venturing dolphins and other marine life. The bathroom is the size of our garden, with two showers, two sinks and a humongous bath. In addition to all of this, the balcony overlooks the Aqua Theater I was taking about earlier. There is no getting there early to save a seat, you can just simply shower up, put on a robe or whatever you fancy and enjoy the sensational show. When you retire for the evening, or just fancy a siesta, all is good. The glass balcony doors are totally soundproof, aiding a restful and peaceful nights sleep to help you recharge, ready for adventures that lie ahead.
There are literally hundreds of destinations to chose from when sailing with this renowned leader in the cruising industry. RCCL pretty much have the entire globe covered. We are certainly looking forward to exploring more of these at a later date. On our first cruise for example, we were enriched with 9 ports in just 14 days around the Mediterranean. On average you can expect to visit: 2 ports on a sampler cruise, 3-4 ports on a 7 night cruise, 7-9 ports on a 14 night cruise and many more on the longer sailings. Lets face it, ports are not the most aesthetically pleasing, although there are the odd few that are rather pretty, however, the destinations are faultless as are the excursions on offer with each destination.
Of course there are many other options to choose from in the afore mentioned categories and much more just waiting to be discovered when sailing with Royal Caribbean. You can find out more on their easy to navigate website www.royalcaribbean.com
For us personally, Royal Caribbean is a firm, family favorite for lots of different reasons. We originally started cruising because both of our girls were born with a rare, lifelong blood disorder and whilst this doesn’t always effect them on a day to day basis, it does become a different matter entirely when one of them has a bleed. Not only this, they both have lowered immune systems, consequently being poorly is common for them. RCCL have helipads on the majority of their ships and fantastic medical facilities with on board doctors. We have been able to speak with the on board doctors before some our cruises and have even arranged specialized medication to be available which is a great help to both the girls and ourselves, allowing us to relax and enjoy our time on board to the maximum.
Cruising comes without delays, a baggage allowance or any monotonous waiting around. There is one thing to take head of mind..
WARNING: Cruising is highly addictive. Once you’ve embarked on your first cruise you will be hooked. There is NO cure. Except for maybe booking your next cruise…
If you have any questions about cruising, I would love to help. You can contact me through my website or DM through any of my social media accounts.
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Forever grateful. Claire x