Almost every person i have spoken to about ‘bucket lists’ has mentioned a Cruise as one of the top items on their list. And i do not blame them. Who wouldn’t want to cruise on the ocean in a luxurious vessel like the Wonder of the Seas  or Oasis of the Seas with unrestricted access to the most beautiful skylines and blue-green seas all day and night while feasting on luxurious buffets and hopping from Island to Island having fu and basking in the sun? Luckily this wish is easily doable with the Royal Caribbean Cruise. It will just set you back some money, but then, its worth it. 

A Royal Caribbean Cruise ship at port in the Bahamas

So once you have made up your mind to book or go on your first cruise, here are  some things to know in order to have the best time and save money! There are many lists out there but we do not need to tell you what to pack, whether to take an Uber or bus to port or to tag your luggages. You know to do these already so let’s focus on important things you may not know. These are our 7 most important things to know before a Royal Caribbean Cruise in no particular order.

1. You need a carry-on luggage

When you fly, you obviously need a hand luggage. This is because it contains the emergency items you will need while on transit but why would you need this on a  Caribbean cruise? After all you will be boarding the cruise ship and heading straight to your room where you will have all your luggage, right? No!

A packed hang luggage

The thing about cruises is that boarding usually commences 4 to 5 hours before departure. People would often arrive early to board early so that they can have more time to enjoy the facilities. So if boarding is taking place between 10:00am to 2:00pm, this means you can relax and enjoy the facilities even before your cruise begins. Its like a bonus and this is where having a hand luggage comes in. This way you have the things you need like a swim suit, clothes, your medications or “your can’t do withouts” because it would usually take a couple of hours or more for your luggage to be delivered to your room. Your luggage may not even arrive until after boarding has completed.

2. Drinks are not Included. Not even bottled water

Cocktails on a table

While on a Royal Caribbean cruise, you can eat all you want. In fact, people say the food and buffet options are so good that one eats like a king have and have no need to book extra dinning packages but when it comes to drinks, you will have to pay separately if you want to have decent options otherwise you are limited to tap water, instant tea/coffee and canned juice(not squeezed). The royal Caribbean has different drinks packages you can buy at discounted prices if you buy before your cruise departs.

Knowing this, if you would also like to drink like a king during your cruise, after all you will be eating like a king, you will need to purchase a drinks package that suits your drinking habit.

3. There is no free WiFi onboard: You have to buy this as an extra

Wifi symbol

This is one of the biggest inconveniences as far as a cruise is concerned. As if the lack of WiFi is not pain enough, remember you will not have phone reception either. Luckily there are ways around this, but mind you, it’s not cheap. You can buy a WiFi package which will allow you to surf, call, chat, and stream videos during your cruise. Royal Caribbean internet packages come in different categories and prices. And starts from 18 per day up to $33 per day  

Another option is to wait for each time you port to connect to local roaming services but remember that roaming is not cheap either. 

4. Tipping is not a choice. It’s a must on the Royal Caribbean Cruise

Tips in a jar

This one may come as a shock, especially if you live outside the United States where tipping is kind of an obligation. In fact, even if you live in the United States this may still be a shocker because Royal Caribbean cruise gratuities are automatically charged daily to your credit card and it applies to all passengers. Currently gratuities start at $14 a day per guest and increases based on the level of your cabin/suit/room.

You can not opt out of this daily gratuity fee although you may be able to adjust it but just make sure you do it before your cruise departs otherwise you will be stuck with the official rate. But then if you think of how hard the crew work to ensure you are safe and have a good time onboard, you just may not mind paying this fee.

5. COVID-19 tests and vaccinations

Apart from the COVID-19 test you would have to do before your trip, to ensure you have not tested positive for the virus within the 10 days leading to embarkation, you may also have to under go a fresh test at the terminal just before you board your cruise ship.  

someone administering a Covid-19 test

In addition to the mandatory tests, you would also need to be fully vaccinated as this is a requirement to board the ship. However, Royal Caribbean Cruise does offer Vaccination accommodation requests for passenger who cannot be vaccinated due to reasons like serious allergy, recent COVID-19 infection, etc. If you fall in this category be aware that there are restrictions on the number of unvaccinated passengers that can board a cruise ship. Also the process to request this accommodation is lengthy. You need to apply at least 30 days before departure and there is no guarantee you will be accepted. For more, Here is our up -to-date Covid-19 rules for the Caribbean.

6. Inform your bank before you leave

One of the most satisfying thing about going on a cruise is the ability to dock from port to port visiting different islands, cities and countries. The activities one can engage in and the souvenirs one can grab are unique. Shopping is a common reason to go ashore so do not forget to warn your credit card company before you go on your Royal Caribbean cruise.

credit cards in a wallet

Using your card in different cities/countries all of a sudden can trigger suspicion and have your card blocked even if you are not spending substantial amounts. It will cost you time, when you will pissed and frustrated, to try and get your card unblocked. So avoid this by informing your bank before you leave so that they know it’s you when those alerts begin to pop up.

7. You can bring your own drinks and wine

Drinks in Ice

I know it’s been all bills and ‘pay for extras’ since we started planning this cruise but look, you can save some money if you know you can actually board the Royal Caribbean cruise ship with your own drinks. Buying drinks during your cruise is very expensive and the most painful thing for many guests is not knowing they could have brought their own water, soft drinks and bottles of wine, even Champaign, on board. Learn from this guest’s experience. A pact of 50cl bottled water set her back a whooping $16.

Royal Caribbean allows passengers to board with own drinks with limit. Guest are also allowed 2 bottles of 75cl wines/Champaign per cabin/room/suite. So make sure to take advantage of this bring your own drinks policy otherwise you would feel stupid when you see other guests boarding with their drink packs and wines.

 

Equipped with this information, you should be comfortable and confident to board your Royal Caribbean cruise ship, save money, and take advantage of every offer on your trip like a pro. Bon voyage.

 

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