Royal Caribbean International Review

U.S. News Travel

Royal Caribbean International Overview

How it Ranks: Royal Caribbean has been ranked based on an expert evaluation of the line's level of luxury, as well as an assessment of user reviews and health ratings. Royal Caribbean International appears on the following ranking lists:

Despite its name, Royal Caribbean International offers voyages to 235 destinations across 69 countries on six continents. While you can certainly sail to Bermuda and the Bahamas, you can also board a ship to Alaska, explore the skylines of Asia, cruise the coast of Mexico, navigate the waterways of Europe and the Mediterranean or ride the waves down under to Australia and New Zealand. And depending on which itinerary you choose, you can play a round of golf, tag along on a sightseeing tour or enjoy a nature hike — all of which are offered as shore excursions. Royal Caribbean cruise ships depart from ports all over the United States, including Baltimore, San Diego, Seattle, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Galveston, Texas, as well as from numerous international ports. Itineraries range from three-night trips to 18-night journeys. The company's fleet is just as varied as its list of destinations. Smaller ships like the Majesty of the Seas (which can accommodate nearly 3,000 guests) sail alongside floating mini-metropolises like the Oasis of the Seas, which can carry more than 6,000 cruisegoers. Plus, each ship carries approximately one crew member per every three passengers. No matter which ship you're on, you'll find a variety of eateries and activities for every age group, including kids' entertainment programs and adults-only pool areas.

Pros & Cons

  • Several ships and destinations to choose from
  • Onboard amenities cater to cruisers of all ages
  • A wide variety of onboard dining options
  • Some alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages cost extra
  • High-capacity ships may feel crowded, especially around the winter holidays
  • Not all onboard amenities are covered in cruise rates

On Board

Although Royal Caribbean cruises depart from ports all over the world, the company's primary clientele is based in North America. The company attracts cruisers in their 30s, 40s and 50s, many of whom travel with their families. You are more likely to encounter multigenerational groups on trips that are shorter than seven days and overlap with the winter holidays and school vacations in the spring and summer — during these times, cruise ships may be filled to capacity.

More about the onboard experience»

On Shore

Royal Caribbean offers a wide selection of shore excursions that ranges from horseback riding, wildlife watching and golf expeditions to helicopter tours, 4x4 off-road drives and scuba adventures. You can explore new cities on a guided sightseeing excursion, or tour new flavors on a culinary discovery tour. Shore excursions vary ...

More about the on shore experience»

Before You Book

  • All cruise fares are per person, based on a double occupancy of the stateroom. The price of your cruise will include meals in the ship's main dining areas, access to most sports and leisure facilities and evening shows. Internet access, gratuity and some food, beverages and amenities cost extra.
  • Children younger than 6 months are not allowed on Royal Caribbean cruises. On Transpacific, Transatlantic, Hawaiian and some South American sailings, guests must be at least 12 months old to sail. Individuals must be 21 years or older to sail unaccompanied from North America and 18 for cruises departing from South America, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Cruise prices do not cover taxes and fees, and Royal Caribbean reserves the right to alter published rates and impose supplement charges on any new or existing reservation without prior notice.
  • Your cruise must be paid in full at least 60 days prior to departure for three-, four- or five-night trips and 75 days prior to departure for itineraries lasting six nights or longer.
  • You can cancel your cruise for a full refund if you notify Royal Caribbean 60 days prior to departure for a three-, four- or five night cruise; 75 days before a voyage lasting seven nights or longer; or 90 days if you're sailing during a holiday season. If you miss those deadlines, cancellation penalties vary.
  • You can avoid cancellation fees by investing in the CruiseCare Penalty Waiver Program.
  • For a $15 to $25 service fee, Royal Caribbean's ChoiceAir program will guarantee you pay the lowest airfare for flights to and from your departure port. If you sign up for the ChoiceAir program, Royal Caribbean will also help you handle any delays and cancellations that may jeopardize your cruise plans.

Before You Board

  • Royal Caribbean encourages you to check in for your cruise no later than three days prior to departure on the Royal Caribbean website. If you complete the online check-in process, you will need to arrive at the pier at least 60 minutes before the boat is scheduled to leave. If you do not register in advance, plan to arrive at least 90 minutes before the ship is scheduled to depart.
  • For trips that begin and end in the United States, you will need a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license) and a government-issued birth certificate or naturalization certificate. All other cruises require a passport that is valid for six months after you return from your trip.
  • You must ensure that you are physically fit for cruise travel. The World Health Organization provides a list of vaccines needed on a country-by-country basis. Royal Caribbean also requires that you bring any necessary inoculation records with you.
  • Onboard medical care is not covered in the cost of your cruise. Before you depart, make sure you have all of your required medications, as well as any basic pain relievers to avoid racking up charges in the infirmary.
  • Shore excursions, meals at specialty restaurants and certain onboard fitness classes, spa treatments and entertainment offerings can be reserved four to 180 days prior to departure using Royal Caribbean's Pre-Cruise Planner.

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Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship's Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship's Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.