Independence of the Seas in Labadee
Photo: Ben & David

The Ultimate Guide to Royal Caribbean

This guide to Royal Caribbean gives you ever need to know about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise. We take a look at the staterooms, cabins, entertainment, the different types of Royal Caribbean cruise ships and let you know what’s included and what’s not such as beverage drinks packages and excursions. We let you know what the best Royal Caribbean cruise ship for you is.


With such a large fleet, Royal Caribbean offer cruises to destinations all around the world. You will find Royal Caribbean ships sailing year-round in the Caribbean and Asia.

During the summer months (around April – August) Royal Caribbean sail Europe, Alaska, Canada & New England. In the winter months (around August – April) the ships sail Australia and New Zealand.


There is a vast amount of entertainment and actives available on Royal Caribbean ships. Almost all of the entertainment and facilities are included in the cost of your cruise, with only a small number of extra-charge actives.

Royal Caribbean Theatre
The Royal Theatre is home to many Broadway productions such as Mamma Mia! Photo: Cruise with Ben & David


There is a wide choice of Dining on Royal Caribbean. You will find a good mix of included dining and extra charge dining on all ships.

Included Dining

The buffet is available on all ships and is included in the cost of your cruise and offers a wide selection for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It will also host special events such as such as the chocolate fountain and themed buffet evenings.

In addition the buffet there is also Cafe Promenade, Cafe Two70 and Park Café serving snacks, sandwiches and light bites for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus, Sorrentos Pizza offers freshly baked pizza during the day and late into the evening. On the larger ships you will also find the Dogg House serving traditional hot dogs, El Loco Fresh serving Mexican fare and Mini Bites serving grab-and-go favourites.

The main dining rooms are also included for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Breakfast is open seating in the morning and offers a table service alternative to the buffet. The menu offers standard breakfast classics such as pancakes, eggs, muffins, waffles plus a buffet where you can help yourself to fresh fruit and pastries.

Lunch is available on sea-days as in similar to breakfast with open seating. The menu changes daily and serves soups, sandwiches, mains and desserts. There is also a huge salad bar with loads of toppings and salad items to choose from plus a made-to-order pasta station.

For evening dinner you will choose either a set-time or flexible time dining when you book your cruise. The menu is extensive and changes each evening. You can choose a many of the starters, soups, mains and desserts as you like.

Dining Royal Caribbean Guide
Many larger Royal Caribbean ships have a huge range of extra-cost dining. Photo: Ben & David

Speciality Extra-Cost Dining

Royal Caribbean also has a huge range of speciality, extra charge, options too. Smaller ships have usually two speciality venues but the larger and refreshed ships feature many more. We really recommend trying one or two of these if you can as they have some excellent restaurants. We particularly liked “Giovanni’s Table” and “Fish and Ships”.

Speciality restaurants on Royal Caribbean (availability varies by ship);

  • 150 Central Park (Upscale restaurant in partnership with celebrity chef Michael Schwartz)
  • Chopps Grille (Signature steakhouse)
  • Fish & Ships (Fish & Chips counter service outlet)
  • Giovanies Table (Family Style Italian restaurant)
  • Hooked (New England-style seafood restaurant)
  • Izumi (Japanese teppanyaki and sushi bar)
  • Jamies Italian (Modern Italian in partnership with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver)
  • Johnny Rockets (1950s American diner)
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade (Pub classics)
  • Solarium Bistro (Healthy bistro)
  • Wonderland (Imaginative & creative cuisine inspired by Alice in Wonderland)

Drinks Packages

The Royal Caribbean drinks packages allow you to pay one price to cover most of your non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks onboard.

Royal Caribbean currently offers three drink packages; Soda Package, Refreshment Package and Deluxe Beverage Package. These can be used at all bars and lounges onboard the ship plus the private destinations of Labadee and CocoCay. They can not be used for mini-bar or room service purchases.

How much does the drinks package cost on Royal Caribbean?

Soda Package

The Soda Package costs $12.99 USD per person, per day (excluding gratuity) and includes;

  • Fountain soda from all bars and lounges
  • Coca-Cola Freestyle machine drinks
  • Plus a Coca-Cola Souvenir Cup

Refreshment Package

The Refreshment Package costs $29.00 USD per person, per day (excluding gratuity) and includes;

  • Premium tea and coffee
  • Bottled still and sparking water
  • Fresh squeezed juices
  • Milkshakes when dining in Johnny Rockets
  • Non-alcoholic cocktails
  • Fountain soda from all bars and lounges
  • Coca-Cola Freestyle machine drinks
  • Plus a Coca-Cola Souvenir Cup

Deluxe Beverage Package

The cost of Deluxe Beverage Package varies by ship and itinerary. The average price is around $65.00 USD per person, per day (excluding gratuity).

Remember: All passengers in the same cabin, who are over the age of 18 (27 on sailings from North America), are required to buy the Deluxe Beverage Package if at least one other person in the cabin has one.

The Deluxe Beverage Package includes all alcoholic drinks up-to the value of $13. This includes;

  • Bottled and draft beer
  • Wine by the glass
  • Cocktails
  • Spirits & liqueurs
  • Premium tea and coffee
  • Bottled still and sparking water
  • Fresh squeezed juices
  • Milkshakes when dining in Johnny Rockets
  • Non-alcoholic cocktails
  • Fountain soda from all bars and lounges
  • Coca-Cola Freestyle machine drinks
  • Plus a Coca-Cola Souvenir Cup
  • 40% discount on bottles of wine under $100.
  • 20% discount on bottles of wine above $100.

Gratuities on Royal Caribbean

Gratuities on Royal Caribbean cost $14.50 USD per person, per night for standard cabins and mini-suites and $17.50 USD per person, per night for Suites. Gratuities are automatically applied to your onboard account.

Gratuities are automatically included for guests booking from Australia or New Zealand.

A 15% gratuity is added to bar charges, food purchases, speciality restaurants and spa services.

Royal Caribbean Ship Guide

What’s Included on Royal Caribbean

* Not available on all ships

Included Dining & Drinks

  • The Buffet
  • The Main Dining Rooms
  • Sorrentos Pizza
  • Cafe Promenade/ Cafe Two70* / Park Cafe*
  • El Loco Fresh*
  • Dogg House*
  • Room service menu items (Delivery fee applies)
  • Tea, filtered coffee, juices and water from the Buffet & Main Dining Room

Included Entertainment

  • Shows in the Main Theatre including full broadway productions
  • Ice Shows in the Ice Arena*
  • Water aerobic shows in the Aquatheater*
  • Performances in Two70*
  • Daytime activities
  • Evening entertainment and Live Music around the ship

Included Facilities

  • All Pools, Hot Tubs & Slides
  • The Gym
  • Jogging track
  • A limited number of fitness classes (Stretch, Abs, Dance Classes etc. )
  • Sauna & Steam Room
  • Children’s Clubs for ages 3 – 17 years old until 10pm
  • Baby and toddler programme (6 months – 3 years)

Included Activities

  • FlowRider Surf Simulator*
  • Rock climbing wall*
  • Sports court
  • SeaPlex*
  • Mini-Golf Course*
  • Ice Skating*
  • Lazer Tag*
  • Zip Line*
  • Ultimate Abyss*
  • Water Slides*
  • RipCord by iFly* (One complimentary ride per guest. Reservation must be made by the Cruise Planner)
  • North Star* (One complimentary ride per guest. Reservation must be made by the Cruise Planner)
North Star Quantum
The North Star on Royal Caribbean is free for most sailings. Photo: Cruise with Ben & David

Extra Charge Dining & Drinks

  • Speciality Restaurants
  • Room Service Delivery Fee (Except Suite Guests)
  • Gelato, Cakes and treats from the onboard shops or Starbucks
  • Soda, Premium Tea, Premium Coffee and Fresh Juices
  • Alcoholic Drinks (See also drinks packages)
  • Wine Tasting

Extra Charge Entertainment & Facilities

  • Excursions
  • All Spa & Salon Treatments
  • Fitness Classes
  • Transfers
  • Photography
  • Arcade
  • Casino & Bingo
  • Escape Room*
  • Nursery
  • Out of hours Children’s Clubs (10pm to 2am)

Other Charges

  • Government taxes, port expenses, and fees(1)
  • The Medical Centre
  • Wifi/Internet Packages
  • Laundry and Dry Cleaning Services
  • Phone calls to land on the ship’s phones.
  • Service Charges/Gratuities

(1) If booking from the USA
* Not available on all ships

Dress Code

The dress code on Royal Caribbean is very informal and casual. There is no dress-code during the day except that shoes and a top must be worn in the buffet and dining areas at all times.

On an evening it’s also very casual but there are some restrictions for the main dining rooms. Caps, hats, tank tops and bathing suits are strictly not permitted at any time. Shorts are allowed for breakfast and lunch but not for dinner. Jeans are also allowed but must be smart, tasteful, not torn or have holes in them.

Some speciality restaurants may also have a dress code and require a collared shirt and formal shoes.

There are formal nights on board, which are still very informal and are becoming more relaxed. Gents can wear a smart pair of jeans and an open-collared shirt. You don’t even have to wear a tie, formal shoes or a dinner jacket. Ladies can wear a cocktail dress, sundresses, pant-suit or slacks and a blouse.

Royal Caribbean Guide
The Royal Caribbean dress code is casual but with some restrictions on an evening. Photo: Cruise with Ben & David

Who goes on Royal Caribbean?

Who is onboard a Royal Caribbean ship varies depending on the ship and itinerary. Generally they are a good all-round cruise line that appeal to all age groups who like to have fun with lots of entertainment and onboard activities.

The larger ships attract more families while the older ships will have more couples but still a good amount of families.

On Alaska and Caribbean sailings you will find most passengers are from North America and other English speaking countries. On European sailings, you will see an even mix of passengers from Europe and North America while on Cruises from Asia you will find almost all passengers are from Asian countries, particularly China.

Pros and Cons of Royal Caribbean


  • Flexible dining available and lots of included dining options
  • Lots of entertainment and onboard actives with most included in the cost
  • Lots of actives for children and families
  • Two private destinations (Lababe and CoCo Cay)


  • New ships are very large and lack an intimate feel
  • Expect lots of lines and crowds on the larger ships
  • Food in the Main Dining Rooms is hit and miss
  • Lots of families and children, particularly in the school holidays

For more tips and advice on Royal Caribbean read our 5 Things You Should Do To Improve Your Royal Caribbean Cruise.

David McDonald
As one half of Cruise with Ben & David I am a huge cruise enthusiast and have sailed on over 30 cruises. On dry land, I am a Head of Design at a digital media company based in London. I have had the opportunity to work with brands such as the Financial Times and The Telegraph.