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4D3N Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas: My First Time Cruising!

By: Author Eva

Posted on November 17, 2018

Categories cruise , malaysia , singapore

4D3N Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas: My First Time Cruising!

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Why would someone pay money to go to a country by sea and spend 24 hours on the ship one-way, when you can just take a 1-hour flight to get there?

This question bothers me a lot when I was young and naive. Cruise vacation has never crossed my mind in my twenties. The young lady in me wanted to explore, explore, explore, and not sit still in a vehicle for days where there’s no network. But, as you get older, you get wiser, right? So, how did I end up on a Royal Caribbean vessel for 4 days 3 nights? Did I enjoy it? What are the highlights of this cruise? Having been to Penang often, what did I do at the port of call this time?

If you’re a cruise newbie who hasn’t taken a single cruise in your life, or you’re looking for snippets about Voyager of the Seas to justify whether it’s worth your hard-earned money, I will share my experience, written from a clueless newbie perspective. Mind you, I didn’t do a single research prior to the trip (I had long hours at work before the trip) thus I made plenty of mistakes that you should avoid!

Why did I book the cruise?

One day, my hubby texted me during work and told me that his company’s annual trip this year is a cruise trip. He asked me whether we are going. I said, “Of course! How much?” “500.” “Okay, let me know the details and let’s discuss tonight!” Long story short, we decided to join the cruise. Because, why not? It’s a free vacation for hubby but he kindly paid for half of my tix.

In the weeks leading to the cruise, we couldn’t stop counting down. Both of us work long hours on weekdays and weekends. We couldn’t wait to unplug and not think about work.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights

Have any questions about traveling in Singapore? Join All About Singapore Travel FB group, I'll be there to answer your questions!

Hello, holidays! Bye, work!

Packing tips

Based on my own experience of over-packing and my hub’s experience of under-packing, here are my tips for packing.

Things to bring:

  • 1 pair of swimsuits for swim and jacuzzi.
  • 1 pair of water sportswear for Flow Rider (you don’t want to wear a bikini for this). Tips: wear tight pants cos the water pressure is really high, your pants will most likely drop if it’s loose.
  • 1 pair of flip-flops for everyday wear.
  • 1 pair of sneakers for jogging and gym.
  • 4 pairs of socks. One for each day. You also need it for rock climbing.
  • Cameras. I brought DSLR, GoPro and camera phone. Didn’t regret a single thing except that I didn’t bring any to record our experience at FlowRider! Ugh!
  • Toiletries, such as toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, shavers, face wash. Body soap and shampoo are provided.
  • Wines. Each room is allowed to bring 2 bottles of unopened wine or champagne. Tips: if you want to drink in your room or by the pool, just borrow the glasses from housekeeping or pool bar.
  • Water bottle. You can refill water from Cafe Promenade.

Things not to bring:

  • Heels. I bought a pair of heels but I regretted it. I wore it only once to the fine dining dinner at Sapphire Dining Room. When I saw other people wear flip-flops, I did the same the next day, oops I’m too honest!
  • Snacks. With unlimited food on board, save your luggage and your energy from carrying extra snacks that you won’t be eating anyway.

Pre-Departure tips

  • Arrive early!  We made the mistake of arriving late. The check-in opens as early as 10.45am and closes as late as 3pm. We arrived at Marina South Pier at 1am and only got to our room at 2.30am. We had a rushed lunch. It was chaotic.
  • Bring luggage, not hand carry bags.  Firstly, if you are planning to take MRT to Marina South Pier, the distance between Marina South Pier MRT and Marina Bay Cruise Centre is about 1km. So, a luggage is more useful than a bag. Secondly, if you don’t check in your belongings, you need to carry them to your room. It’s a long walk, trust me.
  • Check in your luggage, it’s free.  Unlike budget flights where you need to pay to check in your bags, the check-in service on a cruise is free (or, rather, it’s already included!). You check-in your bags first before passenger check-in. The queue for luggage check-in is outside the building, not inside. Basically, just show them your tix that has your room number, and they’ll put on the tags on your luggage. That’s it! Your luggage will be delivered to your room once the ship sails. If you have wine, you will receive a paper in your room that requests you to collect your luggage at Deck 1.

Marina Cruise Centre check in terminal

The terminal looks really confusing for a first-timer like me!

  • Make your way to the passenger check-in counter.  Follow the signs. Different decks of the same cruise have different check-in counters. It could be confusing, but just follow the signs according to your deck.
  • Once you get through the lengthy check-in process and receive your Seapass (aka room card), make your way to the ship. As you get out of the cruise terminal and walk towards the ship, you’ll pass a group of crews to will ask you to surrender your passport. Give your passport and your NRIC. We didn’t surrender our NRIC on the first day, so we had to visit Guest Service on the second day to surrender our NRIC. In case you don’t know, NRIC is the identity card held by residents of Singapore (including foreigners who work in the country).
  • Once you enter the ship at Deck 4, you’ll see so many people at the lift lobby waiting for the slow lift to come. Don’t waste your time waiting for the same lift. Take the stairs instead. Luckily, our room was only 2 storeys above the entrance.
  • Grab your lunch, quick! Visit Windjammer at Deck 11 for the free buffet or Cafe Promenade at Deck 5 for light snacks (i.e. pizza, sandwich, cakes, etc). Be quick, because the lunch facilities will be closed at about 3.30pm to prepare for the mandatory drill before the ship sails.
  • Begin your adventure!  Once the drill ends, the ship starts sailing and your adventure begins! Either plan your activities first using the Cruise Compass in your room, or simply explore the whole ship on foot. Your choice. Wait, what’s Cruise Compass? It’s the daily schedule of shows time, restaurant opening hours, activity operating hours, etc. Basically, it’s a very important document and it’s sent directly to your room every night.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights

Our first glimpse of the cruise. I was awed.

How my first cruise experience looks like

Here’s how I spent my 4 days 3 nights on the cruise. It isn’t a perfect itinerary, but it shows you how little time you have on board so you need to carefully plan your activities. It also shows you the mistakes we made, so you won’t repeat it. Ready?

1 pm: Arrived at Marina South Pier. Went through the lengthy check-in process that I’ve explained in the “Pre-Departure” section above,

2.20 pm: Excited to discover that our interior stateroom is not bad! The bed is big and so comfortable. The aircon is great.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - stateroom

Our stateroom! No windows or balcony but it’s really comfortable!

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - stateroom

The other view of the stateroom

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - stateroom

And the tiny shower room

2.40 pm: Lunch at Windjammer. It’s all-you-can-eat, baby! It was our first meal on the cruise, of course, we went wild. There was so much food. We ate a lot. I especially love the pizza and pasta. We only left the restaurant when they were preparing to close.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - Windjammer

The staff would try to sell you discounted meals at speciality dining places. It’s quite a huge discount and you can consider it. Otherwise, you still can buy the package during dinner or the second day.

4 pm: Mandatory Muster Assembly Drill. From Windjammer, we followed other people to the Drill. Along the way, we saw the crews holding the signs for D4. Being confused, we asked the crew where we were supposed to go. After they checked our Seapass, they told us to go to our station A3 instead of D4. So, we had to walk quite some distance to our designated station. The drill went on for about 15 minutes. Then, the ship started sailing.

4.30 pm: Photoshoot session. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to take photos of Singapore from a cruise, we went up to the pool deck for a photoshoot session.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights

We’re so ready to begin our adventure!

5.30 pm: Dinner. On our Seapass, it was written that we were assigned to 5.30 PM seating at the Sapphire Dining Room (also known as Main Dining Room, or Fine Dining). We went with high expectation, we dressed better than casual. The dining hall was really huge and beautiful. All the utensils were nicely laid on the table. We were excited. However, our excitement was short-lived.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - Sapphire Dining Room Dinner

Looks luxurious!

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights

Before dinner was served

The dinner was nothing to boast about. The food was a hit or miss. My appetizer (scallop) was great but my main (pad thai) was terrible. Dessert was fantastic. Service was bad. Here are my tips for you: dine with no expectation at all and you won’t leave with regrets.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - Sapphire Dining Room Dinner

L-R: appetizer (scallop), pad thai, sweet and sour chicken, grilled chicken, fish and chips, curry.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - Sapphire Dining Room Dinner

Dessert. Just okay.

7.30 pm: Hanging out at the pool deck, soaking in the atmosphere.

8.15 pm: Went to Studio B (deck 3) for the “Ice Odyssey” show scheduled at 8.30 pm. To our disappointment, the studio was already full even before the show started. Too bad. We went back to our room to rest.

9.30 pm: Went to Studio B again for the second show of “Ice Odyssey” show scheduled at 10.30 pm. Yes, we were really early, like 1 hour early. After queuing for some time, the door opened and the line moved. We went into the studio, took a seat and waited patiently for the show to start.

10.30 pm:  “Ice Odyssey show officially started. Professional ice skaters were performing spectacular moves on the skating rink. Stupid me, I didn’t bring my DSLR. Hence, the not-so-sharp photos below. This show is one of the best shows on the cruise and I highly recommend it to anyone boarding the cruise.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - Ice Odyssey

The girl on the chair volunteered to be a guest of the show

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - Ice Odyssey

Amazing performance by pro skaters

11.30 pm: Show’s done. Time for bed.

Here’s our ideal plan for the morning of Day 2: wake up at 6 am, go for a morning jog at 6.15 am, swim at 6.45 am, breakfast at 7.30 am. Here’s what really happened.

8 am: Wake up with a huge sense of regret for oversleeping.

8.15  am: Breakfast at Windjammer. The restaurant is crowded as usual, but we managed to find a table. There was too much food at the buffet. My favourite food has to be the fried carrot cake. It was a little bit too salty but I just couldn’t stop eating it; I probably had 3 plates of it.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - breakfast windjammer

Love this window seat. But it got hot towards the end of our breakfast.

9.30 am: After breakfast, we decided to head to the pool. But, along the way, we spotted a vacant table for table tennis. Being a huge lover of the game (we call it pingpong here), hubby and his friends played for a good half an hour.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - table tennis

Table tennis championship

10.00 am: Realising that the Stand-up Surfing is ending soon at 11 am, hubby and I made our way to our room to change into our swimming attire and keep our valuables in the safe.

10.10 am: Submitted our NRIC at the Guest Services desk at Deck 5 because we didn’t do so when we entered the ship.

10.15 am: Went to FlowRider at Deck 13. There was a line at the registration where we waited for about 10 mins. We gave our Seapass and were given a wristband. PS: This is a free activity, so don’t miss it if you are an adrenaline junkie!

10.30 am: Just as we were done with registration, there was an announcement that Stand-Up Surfing line is already closed, and Boogie Boarding line is now open. Hubby missed his chance to surf. So, both of us lined up at the Boogie Boarding and watched people trying out the Stand-Up Surfing.

11 am: Stand Up Surfing officially ends; Boogie Boarding officially starts. I was so sad that I didn’t bring GoPro to record our attempt at Boogie Boarding. I had a tough time trying to maneuvre the board while hubby had a great time. He probably spent about 15 minutes on the board, while I spent maybe 5 mins. Tips: wear tight pants because the water pressure might blow your pants off. Mine almost came off.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - flowrider

Boogie boarding

11.45 am: Jacuzzi time at pool deck!

12.30 pm: Shower time!

1 pm: Lunch at Windjammer. Turned off by the long queue to enter the hall! Thankfully, the queue moved fast. By the time we sat down, I could see Penang already from the restaurant’s glass windows. Hurray!

2.30 pm:  After lunch, we went up to the pool deck to take photographs of Penang!

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - arrive penang

Penang port taken from our cruise

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - arrive penang

Did you spot Komtar (the tallest building in Penang)?

3.45 pm: Getting off the ship was really easy. Go down to Deck 4, exit the ship, scan the Seapass, that’s it! We took maybe 5 mins to get off the ship because majority people have already got off since 3 pm.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - arrive penang

This is Swettenham pier, the place where the cruise is docked.

4.00 pm: Took a Grab car to Penang Hill Lower Station. It costs RM 20 for approximately 25 mins ride.

4.30 pm: We were shocked to see so many people at the entrance of Penang Hill Lower Station. But the ticket counter line was not that long, so we queued. The admission for Malaysians is cheaper than foreigners. I had to pay RM 30 for the cable car return ticket, while hubby only paid RM 10. The short queue lasted for 30 mins, ZZZ!

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - penang hill

Admission fees for Penang Hill

5 pm: Here comes the cable car, or so we thought! We showed our tickets to the cable car staff. For the second time, we were shocked to see the long queue to ride the cable car. Oh, man! Waiting game part 2.

5.35 pm: This is it! We finally boarded the cable car, only to be squeezed left and right.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - penang hill

The cable car is finally here. They will pack as many people as possible in the car.

5.40 pm: Arrived at Penang Hill Upper station. We were shocked to see the long queue of people waiting to board the cable car back to Lower station. “It’s quite late now, almost 6 pm. I guess the queue will get shorter when we want to go back. For now, I should just enjoy the fresh air and the view!” I told myself.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - penang hill

I really like this view. The track of the cable car.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - penang hill

From Penang Hill, we still could spot our cruise!

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - penang hill

Photo spots for lovebirds

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - penang hill

There are many photo spots for lovebirds

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - penang hill

Yeah, at Penang Hill, you can see clouds below you

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - penang hill

Penang Hill is huge. We didn’t have enough time to explore.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - penang hill

I have to disagree

6.30 pm: Finished sightseeing. Shocked to see the queue for the cable car got longer. We joined the queue and it was hardly moving. Waiting game part 3! I predicted we’d need to queue for at least 2 hour. So, we’d probably get to the cable car by 9 pm. By taking a taxi, we’d arrive back at the ship at 10 pm. Just nice, right? But our guts are telling us that we’d be nuts if we were to wait.

7 pm: Enough is enough. We have waited for 30 mins, but the line has moved only about 30 meters. At this point, we would pay anything to get back down the hill. Hubby went to the ticket counter to purchase new express one-way tickets. The staff told him that he doesn’t need to buy new tickets, he can simply upgrade the original tickets by paying RM 20 per person. Yay, we were so happy that we literally ran to the express lane.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - penang hill

If you want to upgrade your ticket to express ticket, get it here.

7.30 pm: Cable car is here!

7.35 pm: Alighted from the cable car. Walked to the ticket counter to pay the upgrade fees. But, there was nobody at the counter. We were told that the staff went for a toilet break. We waited and waited. Another load of cable car arrived. Finally, the staff came back! He took such a long toilet break of at least 10 mins, we thought he went home!

7.45 pm: I booked Grab while waiting for my turn. It says RM 33, 16 mins. Ok, I’d pay anything to get back. 16 mins are not too long.

8 pm: We’re waiting at the entrance of Penang Hill Lower station, but the car still hasn’t come. Another 12 mins?? Fine, we’ll wait. Waiting game part 4.

8.15 pm: Still another 10 mins? This is getting too unbearable. I cancelled the booking. We got in a taxi for a fixed price of RM 40. The taxi left immediately.

8.45 pm: We’re home, baby! So happy to come back to our ship. It’s been a long long day.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - penang hill

Hey, ship! It’s really nice to see you! We miss you! A LOT!

9 pm: We were starving. Dinner at Windjammer. No queues because it was already late. It was easy to find a table at this timing. Food was still abundant.

9.30 pm: Quickly went to La Scala Theater at Deck 3 to get ready for the “Music in Pictures” show.

10 pm: The show started. It was a great performance by great singers and dancers. We didn’t know much of the songs, though.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - music in pictures

Music in Pictures

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - music in pictures

11 pm: After a tiring day, we called it a day.

7 am: Yay, we got up early today because we wanted to see the sunrise. We went up to the pool deck. Oh, no, it was raining really hard! There goes our sunrise. Guess, we can’t jog and swim either. So, we hung out around the pool, watching the rain. Hubby chit-chatted with his colleague.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - sunrise

No sunrise. But this was so beautiful!

7.30 am: I told hubby I needed a cup of coffee. We went to Cafe Promenade to get a cup. I read and re-read the Cruise Compass for the day. It suddenly hit me: There are 3 places to eat breakfast, namely Cafe Promenade (casual dining), Windjammer (buffet) and Dining Room. Where is this Dining Room? Is it the Sapphire Dining Room? Why isn’t there a $ sign behind the restaurant name? Does it mean, it’s free? I told hubby, we should totally check this out.

8 am: We went to the Dining Room, minutes after they opened. Shortly after, we found ourselves sitting in a luxurious dining hall. Yes, it is Sapphire Dining Room. Yes, it is free. We were so excited. We ordered our food, took fruits and granolas from the salad bar, captured plenty of photos. Unfortunately, our waiter didn’t wake up on the right side of the bed that day. He was rude. I wish there’s a feedback form but there wasn’t. Anyway, we loved Dining Hall breakfast so much, we wanted to come back for lunch too.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - breakfast dining hall

Trying to decide what to order

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - breakfast dining hall

Breakfast menu at Dining Hall. We thought we could only order 1 from each category. We were so wrong.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - breakfast dining hall

Our breakfast

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - breakfast dining hall

This salmon platter is so good, we ordered another serving!

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - breakfast dining hall

Yoghurt at salad bar if you’re keen

9.30 am: Still wanting to try Stand-Up Surfing, we went up to Pool Deck to check the weather. Unfortunately, the rain was still heavy. FlowRider was closed.

10.30 am: Found an awesome spot at Deck 12. There was a lounge where you can sit down and relax while overlooking the pool. You don’t need to buy any drinks. It was such a great place to cool down and contemplate.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - lounge deck 12

The lounge at Deck 12 that not many people know about

11.30 am: Lunch at the Dining Room. Yes, we had finished our breakfast just 2 hours ago. Yes, the food is awesome! Our waiter is fantastic. It was one of the best dining experience throughout the 4 days. I especially love the sugar-free dessert.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - lunch dining hall

I love this lunch so much. The waiter gave me two plates of steak (medium well and well done) in case my original order (medium well) doesn’t suit my tastebud. He was right. I returned my original order and ate the second plate instead.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - lunch dining hall

I love the sugar-free cake (leftmost) so much I ordered another serving for my hubby cos I didn’t want to share.

1.30 pm: Rest

2 pm: Rock climbing time! It was challenging for both of us! It’s a free activity but you need to bring your own socks. Shoes will be provided. They use automatic belay, so there isn’t anyone on the ground who’s holding your rope to support you when you jump down. I really like auto belay because I don’t have to feel scared whether the belayer is strong enough to hold my weight, and I could take all the time in the world to climb.

3 pm: Running time! I started my run at Deck 12, on the outdoor dedicated running track. Too bad, the weather was too hot. I stopped a couple of time and had to ask for iced cold water from the bar (it’s free). Then, I continued with another 30 mins run on a treadmill in the Vitality fitness center at Deck 11.

4.20 pm: Done with running, I enjoyed the jacuzzi in the fitness center. It was not crowded because it’s an adult-only jacuzzi. Then, sauna! There was also a steam room but it was too hot so I didn’t use it. Both sauna and steam are located in the ladies. Gents have their own too.

5 pm: Collected my passport from the elevator lobby of my deck. Shower.

5:30 pm: Dinner at Sapphire Dining Room. Sat in the same table. Met the same unhappy waiter. Didn’t stay long because we were rushing to the magic show.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - dinner dining hall

I almost laughed at my own dinner. 4 prawns and mashed potato!

6.30 pm: Went to La Scala Theater at Deck 3 one hour before the scheduled performance because we wanted to sit at the front row.

7:30 pm: John Taylor, Australia illusionist, show officially started. There was a couple of nerve-breaking tricks that almost made my heart stop beating.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - magic show

This trick is too scary.

8.30 pm: Rest.

9:30 pm: Late-night pizzas at Cafe Promenade because hubby’s colleague said they had a great cheese pizza. And he was right!

10.00 pm: Packing.

11.00 pm: Sleep.

6.30 am: We woke up early for our final breakfast at our favourite place, the Dining Room. The breakfast starts pretty early on the last day. As we sat down on our seat, WhatsApp messages started to flood my phone. “Oh no, we have signal now, that means we are back in Singapore, that means the holiday is over!”

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - breakfast dining hall

Fruity granola!

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - breakfast dining hall

The classic: fried eggs with hash brown, bacon, sausage

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - breakfast dining hall

Our final breakfast on the cruise

8.30 am: Done with our breakfast, we went up to the outdoor deck to take a couple of final photos.

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - arrive in singapore

A couple of final photos before leaving the ship

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - arrive in singapore

That was Marina Bay Sands on the right

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - arrive in singapore

Hello, Singapore

10 am: Sad to leave but we had to. As we got off the ship, we saw the next incoming passengers entering the ship. Wow, they were early!

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights - arrive in singapore

We’ll miss you, ship.

What I wish I knew

1. I wish I knew that we could check in as early as 10.45 am. I wish I took a full day leave on departure day instead of half day leave so that I could enjoy the lunch and explore the ship without the crowd.

2. I wish I knew that I won’t be able to do all of the activities , so I could prioritise the activities that I really like instead of going to every activity. We missed out the skating course (because we were queueing for boogie boarding on day 2 and we were watching the magic show on day 3) and stand up surfing (because we spent too much time at table tennis and the weather on day 3 was terrible so surfing was cancelled). But it’s okay, we’ve moved on.

3. I wish I knew that Studio B at Deck 3 gets full easily. If I did, I would’ve arrived earlier on Day 1 to catch the first show of Ice Odyssey.

4. I wish I knew that the Dining Room serves great breakfast and lunch. We only found out that it’s possible to have breakfast and lunch at Dining Room on Day 3 and that’s too late.

5. I wish I knew that you could order unlimited food in the Dining Room.  We didn’t know, so we ordered only 1 dish from each section. Our waiters for the first dinner and first breakfast were so rude, they didn’t bother to ask us whether we wanted another serving or other food on the menu.

6. I wish I knew that Penang Hill would be so crazy crowded on weekends. I should have just explored the city Georgetown on foot, avoid visiting new places I’m not familiar with, like Penang Hill, and eating my favourite Char Kway Teow instead.

I hope you avoid making the same mistakes as me 🙂

Tips for Cruising with Kids

I don’t have a kid yet when I went on this cruise, so I ask my friends, who took the cruise with their children, for tips. Here are their tips:

  • Generally the kids enjoy the cruise food, but it’s wise to bring some snacks.
  • Bring medicated oil and medicine, especially for sea sickness, fever, flu and cough.
  • The kids love pool. So, remember to bring swimsuit and sunblock.
  • If your kids still drink milk, do not forget to bring thermos.
  • Jacket is really useful to keep the kids warm when the temperature drops.

Did I enjoy it?

I absolutely enjoy my first cruise. It was a great alternative to my usual independent travel style. Do I want to go on the same cruise again? Nope. I would rather go on a cruise that allows me to visit places I’ve never been to. Well, unless it’s a company trip, of course 🙂

Voyager of the Seas - Singapore Penang 4 days 3 nights

If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee! Your support will help me to keep going!

Saturday 13th of July 2019

Hello What’s the name of this cruise n the name of the company that offers it? TQ

I don't know who you are, but this is hilarious.

Thursday 13th of June 2019

Hi. I going on it soon. Would like to know Is there any food courts nearby? My bus will depart from Singapore around 1pm and I’m first timer in Singapore >< So wanna seek advice on where can grab cheap lunch after leaving the cruise. Thanks~

Wednesday 19th of June 2019

Hi Wong, 3 options: 1. Kopitiam at basement 2 of Vivo City 2. Food Republic at Level 3 of Vivo City 3. Seah Im Food Court (need to cross the road)

Monday 13th of May 2019

I’m going on it next month with my family,thanks for your detailed cruise experience, Eva .

Wednesday 15th of May 2019

Glad you find it useful!

Friday 10th of May 2019

Thank you for great and very detailed writing, Eva! I'm amazed that you're able to remember minutes by minutes detail.

Raghu Ram Mohan

Thursday 9th of May 2019

Hi Eva, Great blog! Did you experience sea sickness? How much time does one spend in their rooms? Is 'Interior' room good enough or a balcony is recommended?

Hi Raghu, I didn't experience sea sickness, but each person may have different reaction to sea sickness. I suggest that you bring a medicine for sea sickness. For me, the interior room is good enough because there's only two of us and we spend a lot of time outside the room. There are too many things to do on the cruise! If you have the budget for balcony and you'd love some quiet moment, go for it! Otherwise, interior room is good enough.

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Royal Caribbean SPECTRUM OF THE SEAS Singapore Cruise Requirements & Check In Process

Royal Caribbean SPECTRUM OF THE SEAS Singapore Cruise Requirements & Check In Process

By continuing to read this article, you agree to double check with the authorities or other concerned entities for the latest updates.

Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas is back in Asia!

Asia’s largest cruise ship will be homeporting in Singapore until 2024, giving Southeast Asian travelers easier access to the Royal Caribbean experience and more sea-travel options to explore the region in style! Some of the usual stops include Port Klang (gateway to Kuala Lumpur) and Penang in Malaysia, and Phuket in Thailand.

While backpacking is our default travel syle, every now and then, we allow ourselves to indulge in something more, um, indulgent. And there is no better way to pamper oneself than by going on a cruise! Within the past year, we have gone on a cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Spectrum of the Seas twice, and we’ve documented the journey from start to finish!

Spectrum of the Seas Pool Deck

In this article, we’ll share with you the entire experience, from the travel requirements to the check in and boarding process to the shore excursions. This is great if you’re joining a Spectrum cruise soon and you need info on what to do or how to prepare. If you’ve yet to book but considering it or you’re simply curious about the prices, we have a separate post about that here: ROYAL CARIBBEAN SINGAPORE CRUISE PRICES

And if you decide to go on a cruise, book at www.cruising.com.ph , managed by the official Royal Caribbean representatives in the Philippines, Arpan Air. By booking on this site, you automatically get Customer Support. If you book on the international website, you’ll have to call the Royal Caribbean office in the United States.

And if you use our promo code — WORTHIT — you’ll get an additional 5% DISCOUNT on the cruise fare! You can use this on top of any existing promos or discounts.

Royal Caribbean Promo Code Singapore

WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?

BEFORE THE CRUISE

What are the travel requirements when joining a singapore cruise.

Here’s a checklist of the things you need to prepare before the cruise.

  • Passport. Must be valid for at least six (6) months.
  • Photocopy of passport. You will be leaving your passport with the cruise staff upon boarding, so it’s best to have a copy of it with you. Don’t worry, you’ll get it back before you disembark.
  • Visa (only if applicable). Philippine passport holders DO NOT need a visa.
  • Singapore Arrival Card. Accomplish this within three days prior to your arrival in Singapore. You’ll find the card here .
  • Royal Caribbean App. Use this mobile app to check in at least three (3) days ahead of the sailing date. You can also use this app to make reservations for restaurants and activities on board. Download it here .
  • SetSail Pass. After checking in using the app, you’ll get a SetSail Pass, which serves as your boarding pass. You may take a screenshot of it or print it out because you’ll need it when boarding. It looks like a flight boarding pass. More info about this below.
  • Luggage Tags. When you book a cruise, you’ll be sent a set of e-docs (Guest Ticket Booklet), with all the reminders and other details of the trip. You’ll also find your luggage tags there. Print them out but don’t attach them to your bags just yet. It looks like this:

Luggage Tag Royal Caribbean

What are the vaccination and testing requirements?

Royal Caribbean Spectrum of the Seas does NOT have COVID-19 vaccination or testing requirements anymore. Vaccination is highly recommended, but not required.

Likewise, the governments of Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand have removed vaccination requirements from incoming tourists. Meaning, you may board the ship and enter these countries even if you’re not fully vaccinated.

However, the Philippines still does require unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers to show a negative test result. This applies to both foreigners and returning residents above 12 years old. If you’re coming back to the Philippines from your cruise trip, you may be asked to present proof of vaccination like:

  • vaccination card
  • yellow book or ICV (International Certificate of Vaccination)

The details on your vaccination proof must be verifiable.

You are considered fully vaccinated if you have received the two doses of acceptable vaccine brand (or one dose if Janssen/Johnson & Johnson or CanSinoBIO).

For children aged 12 or below, COVID-19 vaccination is NOT mandatory.

IMPORTANT! These policies change quite a lot. Check this page for the latest updates.

How to check in using the Royal Caribbean App

You should check in not later than 3 days before your scheduled sailing. Here’s how:

  • Download the Royal Caribbean app here .
  • Link your cruise to your app by entering your last name, date of birth, and reservation number. It will then display your upcoming cruise.

Royal Caribbean App 1

  • On the home page, click CHECK IN at the bottom menu. It will display a review of possible health requirements. Click CONTINUE TO CHECK IN.
  • Fill out the Travel Info section. You’ll need to provide the following: – A scan of your passport – Security photo – Country of residence/birth – Crown & Anchor Society Loyalty Number – Address – Emergency contact details
  • Enter your credit card details . Internationally-accepted debit cards work, too.

Royal Caribbean App 2

  • Enter your Arrival Time for your wellness check. The earliest we saw was 12pm-12:30pm. Avoid being late. If you arrive outside the time slot you chose, you may be delayed boarding.
  • Provide your vaccination details , including the manufacturer and date it was administered. This is not required, but if you are vaccinated, best to provide your vaccination details and upload a copy of your proof of vaccination. If you have a booster dose, provide the info as well.
  • Answer Health and Safety questions on the specified date , usually the day before your sailing date.

Royal Caribbean App 3

  • Click VIEW SET SAIL PASS. After another review of the health reminders, the system will generate your pass. It should contain your name, stateroom number, reservation number, and a unique barcode.

You can view your SetSail Pass even if you haven’t answered the health questions. Take a screenshot of your SetSail Pass for easier use. You’ll also receive an email notification. It looks like this:

SetSail Pass Royal Caribbean App

By the way, you’ll see an orange notice that reads “ Not Yet Cleared to Board! ” even if you have completed all the sections. Don’t worry about it for now. This will change once you pass the wellness check at the terminal.

What to pack? What to wear?

One of the most common misconceptions about cruising is that it’s too formal. And this is not true, at least for Royal Caribbean.

True, there is often one formal night per sailing. But it is optional. You can totally skip it if you’re not into it. And it’s not that strict. On Spectrum of the Seas, jeans are acceptable on formal night. Just avoid wearing t-shirt, shorts, slippers, and sneakers at the event. (On our last sailing though, there wasn’t a formal night. But we still decided to dress up a bit one evening. LOL)

Royal Caribbean Formal Attire

Some restaurants also enforce a certain dress code. But these are not formal, more like smart casual. For the Main Dining Room and other specialty restos, a dress/blazer for women or anything with a collar should be enough. Again, just avoid t-shirts, shorts and sneakers here.

Outside of these, casual is completely fine. I recommend bringing one blazer that can pass off as semi-formal or business attire so you could get into less casual spots and events.

What to Wear on a Cruise

When I’m going on a cruise, I always pack two sets of clothes per day. This is NOT a requirement, just a personal preference. The reason is, I like wearing casual, comfortable clothes when touring, especially when getting off the ship. But in the evenings, I embrace any opportunity to dress up a little. (As a full-time travel blogger, I rarely come across such situations. LOL!)

And oh, if you intend to swim or take a dip, bring swimwear, too!

In addition to clothes, don’t forget to bring the following:

Royal Caribbean What to Pack

  • US dollars : just in case you experience trouble with your credit/debit card
  • Face masks : you have to wear this all the time when indoors, except when eating
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste : which will not be provided on board
  • Travel adaptor : the ship uses North American standard, 110V AC; and standard European 220/230 volts AC plug outlets

What are the prohibited items on board a Royal Caribbean ship?

Here are things that are not allowed on board. If found, these items will be confiscated immediately.

Royal Caribbean Prohibited Items

  • illegal drugs and substances
  • firearms and ammunition (including replicas)
  • flammable liquids and explosives
  • sharp object (shaving razors and scissors with less than 4 inches blade length are allowed)
  • items that produce heat and an open flame like candles, incense, coffee maker, hot plates, clothes iron, etc. (curling iron and hair straighteners are allowed)
  • extension cords
  • hoverboards
  • alcoholic beverages like beer, hard liquor, and fortified wines (On boarding day, guests may bring up to two 750-ml bottles of wine or champagne per stateroom but these must only be consumed inside their respective staterooms. It must be brought via carry on.)
  • other beverages

In a previous RC cruise, I didn’t realize that extension cords were prohibited. (I always bring a small power strip when I travel.) I was wondering why my suitcase was not delivered to my room until I called and found out that my bag was temporarily held because it contained what looked like an extension cord. I went to their baggage area to retrieve my bag. They confiscated the extension cord, but they gave it back to me before I left the ship.

How to change details of my cruise booking?

If you booked via the international website of Royal Caribbean, you may call its United States hotline: 866-562-7625 .

If you booked at www.cruising.com.ph , the website of the official Royal Caribbean representatives in the Philippines (Arpan Air), you may simply contact them via call, SMS, Viber, or Whatsapp at these numbers:

  • +63 998 983 7315
  • +63 948 526 6174

If you haven’t booked yet, consider booking at www.cruising.com.ph to get easier customer support. They have access to the same system and inventory, and they can make changes to your booking or extend your payment. They can also assist you in preparing for your cruise.

ON BOARDING DAY

Where is the cruise terminal in singapore how to get there.

In Singapore, Royal Caribbean uses the stunning Marina Bay Cruise Centre, located at this address:

  • Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore 61 Marina Coastal Drive, Singapore 018947

The closest MRT Station is Marina South Pier along the North South (NS) Line.

If you’re coming from Changi Airport, here’s how to get there:

  • From the Arrival Hall, walk to Changi Airport MRT Station. It’s located between Terminals 2 and 3.
  • Board the train and alight at Tanah Merah Station. It’s only 2 stops away. Travel time: 8 minutes.
  • Transfer to another train bound for Joo Koon or Tuas Link. This is still East-West Line (EW) or green line. You’ll need to change platforms.
  • Get off at Raffles Place Station. It’s 10 stops away. Travel time: 20 minutes.
  • Transfer to North South Line (NS) and board a train bound for Marina South Pier. This should take you only about a minute or so.
  • Alight at Marina South Pier. Only 2 stops away. Travel time: 6 minutes.
  • Take Exit A. Just follow the signs pointing to Exit A or Marina Bay Cruise Centre.
  • Walk to Marina Bay Cruise Centre. It’s 600 meters away, roughly 10 minutes on foot. Find the departure and checkin area.

Total travel time: roughly 1 hour. Total fare: SGD 1.97.

If you’re coming from any other part of the city, just make your way to any MRT station and make your way to Marina South Pier Station along the North South Line (NS).

The faster and easier way is by taking a cab or a Grab car. Travel time is only 20-25 minutes. Grab fare is around SGD 19. For 6-seater vehicles, fare is around SGD 34.

How to check in and board the ship?

First, make sure you check in online or using the Royal Caribbean app at least 3 days before sailing. This would make the boarding process so much easier!

Check your Guest Ticket Booklet , a set of e-documents sent to you when you booked, and on the CRUISE SUMMARY PAGE (likely page 3), look for the Sailing Time . Often, it should be between 4pm and 6pm. In our case, it’s 5pm.

Spectrum of the Seas Boarding Time

IMPORTANT! Be at the pier within the wellness check time period that you picked when you checked in online. Otherwise, you may be pushed back and be allowed to board much later.

Here’s the boarding process:

  • Attach the luggage tags to your check-in bags. You’ll find it in the Guest Ticket Booklet, usually towards the last page. Print them out but attach it only after you’ve landed in Singapore. (The tags might get lost or damaged if you attach it before your flight to SG.) You can also do this while falling in line but bring some scotch tape.

Royal Carribean Luggage Tag

  • Go to the luggage drop off area. But make sure you have your documents with you. Best to have a small carry-on or hand-carry bag.
  • Enter the terminal for Customs and security check. There is often another queue here that starts outside. When you pass the security check, you will be directed to the check-in hall.
  • Clear a quick document check. A staff member will check your passport, SetSail Pass, and proof of vaccination (if applicable). Once satisfied, they will affix a sticker at the back of your passport and write your stateroom number on it.

Royal Caribbean Boarding Card

  • Finalize your check-in and present your travel documents at the counters. If you were not able to check-in online, you will need to fill out the check-in forms on the spot. Once everything is in order, a photo of you will be taken. – If you did not enter a payment method (credit/debit card) via the app, a refundable deposit of at least US$100 will be collected for incidental expenses. You will be able to take it back before you leave the ship, unless you make purchases on board. – Once done, you will be given a printed out “checked in” version of your SetSail Pass. – If you check your Royal Caribbean app, it should display you’re CLEARED TO BOARD. – You will be given assigned a boarding area.
  • Proceed to the assigned boarding area. This depends on the color or number of the boarding card assigned to you. Wait for the boarding announcement.

Marina Bay Cruise Centre Boarding Area

  • When boarding starts, go to the Immigration Hall for departure clearance. Everything here is automated. You’ll have to scan your passport yourself and clear biometric scans (photo and fingerprints). Note that you’re technically exiting Singapore at this point, so you’ll have to accomplish the Singapore Arrival Card again later on, before the ship returns to SG.
  • As you enter the ship, another staff member will collect your passport. You will get your passport back a day before you disembark.

That’s it! You’re in! Welcome aboard!

What to do after boarding?

Spectrum of the Seas Safety Briefing

  • Attend a safety demo. Check your Royal Caribbean app for the venue. It will also show you a map and instructions on how to reach it. Once completed, you’ll be given a colored sticker that you must attach to your shirt, somewhere visible.
  • Have lunch or chill at a waiting area. This can be the Windjammer Marketplace on Deck 14, the Main Dining Room on Decks 3-4, or the Two70. Help yourself with treats from their extensive international buffet selection as you wait for your room to be ready (usually 2-3 hours after boarding but can be as late as 6pm). You may also explore the top deck or the pool area and admire the view.

SeaPass Card

  • Find your check-in luggage in the hallway, just outside your room. If you can’t find it, contact Guest Services because they might be holding it because they suspect it contains a restricted/prohibited item or the luggage tag might have gotten lost.

Spectrum of the Seas Hallway

DURING SAILING

Where to eat on board.

Each booking comes with access to six (6) complimentary dining options:

  • Main Dining Room : a proper restaurant, international cuisine; multi-level dining place; open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Deck 3-4, Aft
  • Windjammer Marketplace : international cuisine; buffet style; open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Deck 14, Aft
  • Noodle Bar : Asian noodles; open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; located inside Windjammer Marketplace
  • Splashaway Café : kiddie meals; open for breakfast and lunch;located near the kid’s pool area; Deck 14, Mid
  • Sorrento’s – Authentic New York Pizzeria, open for lunch and dinner; Deck 14, Aft
  • The Café @Two70® : continental food; serves mostly salads, sandwiches, and soups; open for breakfast and lunch; Deck 5, Aft section
  • SeaPlex Dog House , a “food truck” serving tasty hot dogs, located inside SeaPlex, open for lunch and dinner, until 7PM only; Deck 15, Aft

Dining at any of the above is FREE of charge , and you can have as much food as you like. When I like a particular dish, I order another serving. Even at the Main Dining Room , if I like two main dishes, I order both. It’s okay and it’s allowed. You can even ask for items that are not on the current menu. The first time I had a meal here, they served a cheese platter, which I enjoyed. But it was no longer on the menu after that but I always ordered it regardless and they would bring oblige (LOL).

The menu at the Main Dining Room changes every meal, but here’s a sample:

Spectrum of the Seas Main Dining Room Menu

Because of the sheer diversity of the cuisines that are available for FREE, it is entirely possible to complete the trip without spending anything more on food.

Spectrum of the Seas Restaurant

But if you want to splurge a little, aside from these complimentary food spots, you’ll also find specialty restaurants that incur additional charges, including:

  • Chops Grille : steakhouse, best for prime meat and Maine lobster; open for lunch (on sea days only) and dinner; Deck 5, Midship
  • Teppanyaki : Japanese food prepared and served by entertaining chefs; open for lunch and dinner; reservation and purchase via Royal mobile app or cruise planner; Deck 14, Mid
  • Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver : Italian cuisine; popular on the menu are meat plank and pasta; open for lunch and dinner; Deck 5, Aft
  • Wonderland : creative and innovative Alice-in-Wonderland-themed dining; open for dinner; Deck 5, Midship
  • La Patisserie , pastries, desserts, ice cream, and coffee; Deck 4, Midship
  • Chef’s Table : continental food; five-course meal and wine tasting; open for dinner; Deck 5, midship
  • Izumi : Japanese cuisine; popular on the menu are the sushi and sashimi options; open for lunch and dinner; Deck 5, Midship
  • Sichuan Red : Chinese cuisine; specially designed for Spectrum of the Seas; open for lunch and dinner; reservation and purchase via Royal mobile app or cruise planner; Deck 4, Midship
  • The Hot Pot : Chinese cuisine; hot pot style cooking; located inside Windjammer Marketplace, Aft
  • Leaf & Bean cafe : wide selection of hot and cold drinks with pastry offerings; Deck 4, Midship

Teppanyaki Spectrum of the Seas

For these, reservations may be required. You may do so using the Royal Caribbean app. If you book in advance, you’ll get discounts ranging from 15-50%.

We’ll be creating a separate article discussing each of the dining spots we have tried on board, so watch out for that.

Reminder: ALWAYS wash and sanitize your hand BEFORE and AFTER you eat. There’s a hand-washing or hand-sanitizing station at every restaurant’s entrance/exit.

Room service is also available but a US$7.95 service charge + 18% gratuity applies per stateroom order except for continental breakfast.

Things to Do On Board

So I asked some of my friends who never considered cruising before: What do you think are in store for you on board? Unsurprisingly, most of them said “eat, drink, and party.” But nothing much other than that. I say “unsurprisingly” because years ago, I thought the same, too! When I was younger, the only mental images of cruising to me were painted by the movies I saw wherein rich retirees just socialize at cocktail parties. LOL.

FlowRider Spectrum of the Seas

But the truth is, boarding a cruise ship is like stepping into another world. There’s just a globe of things to do on board! Competition among cruise lines is intense, so every one is continuously one-upping the others by offering a lot of features, depending on the target market. Royal Caribbean, for example, has been filling their new ships to the brim with fun and exciting amenities. As one of their largest ships, the Spectrum of the Seas has more than its share of thrilling attractions and lifestyle spaces.

Here are some of them:

Spectrum of the Seas Amenities

  • RipCord by iFly , simulated skydiving experience (with extra cost)
  • FlowRider , simulated surfing activity (FREE, but instructor fees apply if you need one)
  • Skypad , bungee trampoline with virtual reality headset (FREE)
  • Rock climbing wall (FREE)
  • Royal Theatre , where musical and other entertaining performances are regularly staged (most shows are FREE)
  • SeaPlex , a sports complex where you can ride bumper cars; play tennis, pingpong and basketball; try archery; and more! (FREE)
  • North Star , a glass-enclosed observation pod and capsule ride that allows a 360-degree view (with extra cost)
  • Swimming pools and whirlpools (FREE)
  • Music hall , with band performances every night (FREE)
  • Star Moment , karaoke! (FREE)
  • Spas and gym (FREE)
  • Video game arcade

We were able to try almost everything on the list and we really had a lot of fun! We were at the Music Hall every night and would spend our high-seas day trying most of the rides and attractions.

SkyPad Trampoline Bungee

And oh, don’t forget to catch at least one of the awesome shows at the Royal Theatre and the Two70 !

Royal Caribbean Theatre

Attractions for children/toddlers

Children have their own swimming area called Splashaway Bay , complete with water slides.

The SeaPlex , a sports complex, composed of game rooms and a lot of kid-friendly attractions like an arcade, video game rooms, archery room, bumper cars, and claw machines.

Kids Swimming Area

Some of the shows at the Royal Theatre are also wholesome, which kids can enjoy.

The Spectrum of the Seas also has a so-called Adventure Ocean program, which is basically a youth club or day care, where children ages 3 to 11 can play with other kids. Parents can drop off their kids here.

Exploring Ports of Call

As of now, most sailings last 3 nights to 5 nights, usually making a stop in the following ports of call in Malaysia and Thailand.

  • 3 nights: Penang
  • 4 nights: Port Klang/Kuala Lumpur and Penang, OR Penang and Phuket
  • 5 nights: Port Klang/Kuala Lumpur, Penang, AND Phuket

You have the option to book a guided tour from Royal Caribbean called SHOREX (Shore Excursion) or you can explore the destination on your own.

The beauty of joining a shorex is they will be taking care of everything for you, including the transfers to and from the port, but it usually comes with a rigid itinerary. Visit the Shore Excursion Kiosks on Deck 5 (Midship) to know more about the different tour packages before the day of docking.

Spectrum of the Seas Kuala Lumpur Penang

If you want more freedom and flexibility, you can explore independently. But just make sure that you’ll be back to the ship before the set time. You can see the arrival and departure times on the Royal Caribbean app.

Penang and Phuket are quite easy to explore because the pier isn’t too far away from the main points of interest or city center. But Port Klang is tricky because it’s roughly 1.5 to 2 hours from Kuala Lumpur, depending on traffic conditions. This means, you’ll be spending at least 3 hours on the road.

Whether joining an arranged group tour or doing a DIY, don’t forget your SeaPass Card and a photocopy of your passport.

Important! You have to be fully vaccinated to explore ports of call.

CHECKING OUT & DISEMBARKATION

Things to do on your last day on board.

  • Accomplish the Singapore Arrival Card. Yes, you’ll have to do it again. Since you’ll be passing through Immigration upon boarding the ship, you’ll be leaving Singapore. When you disembark, you’ll actually be reentering the country, so you’ll need to complete this form again. You can do this much earlier, anytime within 3 days prior to your arrival in Singapore.
  • Claim your passport at the designated area. It’s usually at the lobby or elevator space nearest your state room.
  • Pack your things and leave your bag outside your door by 10PM. Set aside your clothes for the next day and all your valuables and travel documents in your carry-on bag. Your room attendant will leave another set of luggage tags on your bed or at the door. Don’t forget to attach the tags to your suitcase before leaving it outside.

Luggage Tags Spectrum of the Seas

  • If paying cash or if your credit card didn’t work, settle your bill if you made any purchases. Just approach the GUEST SERVICES desk to do so. If using a credit card, the bill with be automatically charged to your card. These days, most bookings already cover pre-paid tips/gratuities, so no need to worry about that (but check your booking to be sure).

Is tipping mandatory?

Most cruise ships impose mandatory gratuities, which will be charged onboard — BUT NOT FOR SINGAPORE SAILINGS of the Royal Caribbean. Instead, gratuities are pre-paid, which means this has been already covered when you book your cruise. So no, when cruising with Royal Caribbean Spectrum of the Seas, you don’t need to worry about being charged for mandatory tips.

That said, we still recommend that you tip the staff — especially your room attendant and the waiters at proper restaurants if they did a great job to show your appreciation.

How to disembark

You can still have your breakfast the morning on the day of your departure. Breakfast is served as early as 6:00am. Here are the food places that normally serve breakfast: Windjammer Marketplace (Deck 14), Café @ Two70 (Deck 5), and Main Dining Room (Deck 3).

When it’s time to get off the ship, follow these procedure:

  • Proceed to your departure lounge and then the gangway on Deck 5. Upon exiting, a staff member will scan your SeaPass card or your passport.
  • Undergo immigration check for arrival clearance.
  • Once cleared, collect your luggage at the baggage claim area. Check your luggage tag number to be sure.

One more thing: if you’re flying to the Philippines after the cruise, you’ll also need to accomplish ETRAVEL PASS , which is a requirement by the Philippine government.

That’s all for now. In our next cruise-related posts, we’ll be tackling the many dining options and attractions on board the Spectrum of the Seas! So follow us on our social media channels to stay updated!

royal caribbean cruise singapore photos

Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand. Its many achievements include the “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 15 consecutive years (TTG Travel Awards) and the “Best Cruise Line” since 2015 (Travel Weekly Asia’s Reader’s Choice Awards. It boasts 26 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to famous destinations such as Bermuda and the Caribbean, Europe, Canada and New England, Alaska, South America, Asia, and Australia and New Zealand.

Arpan Air Inc. is the official representatives of Royal Caribbean in the Philippines.

Written by Yosh Dimen Photos by Yosh Dimen & Vins Carlos Additional words by Asta Alvarez Additional images courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Updates Log

2023 11 2 – Updated eTravel requirements 2023 3 23 – Added Phuket details 2022 9 20 – First posted

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guest

Did you have internet connection while on board?

Yosh Dimen

Hi Pia! Yes, Voom ung provider nila. Pero medyo mahal, nasa around P1100 per day. Need namin kasi sa work.

We’ll be cruising again next month and we’ll be using yung Data SIM na pwede sa SG/MY/TH. Mas mura kasi. I’ll update this if OK naman ang connection.

Nesty

Hello. Did your next cruise push thru this Feb ? And did you get the Data SIM you mentioned in Singapore ? How was it ? Thanks.

Hi Nesty! Yep, we were able to order TuneTalk SIM online, which works in SG/MY/TH. We had a difficult time activating it, but once it did, ok naman. Shipping took a long time so order at least a month before to be safe.

Niela

Hi Yosh – can you write about your diy shorex for kl, penang and phuket. Tia!

Hi Niela, yes. I’m currently on my way to Singapore for another cruise. Will write about DIY shorex after. :)

Thx will wait Also I was able to use promo code WORTHIT thx a lot!

Nicole

Hi! This information is very helpful! I am sailing this itinerary in June. I have a US passport, so I need to get a Singapore Visa, and a Visa for /Malaysia as well as the Singapore arrival card?!? Is that it as far as documentation?

Singapore Arrival Card, yes. Not sure about visas though because I’m not familiar with the policies for US passport holders. ☹️

amarietb

grabe sobrang helpful talaga ng mga blog po ninyo. Pag nagttravel kami lagi muna ako nagbabasa ng mga blogs po ninyo sobang nakakatulong talaga po

Salamat po! Enjoy po kayo sa mga next trips n’yo. :)

Amit

Thank you. All the information is very useful. We will be travelling from Singapore in May (to Penang and Phuket). A quick question – Being an Indian citizen (Indian passport holder), will i require visa for both Malaysia and Thailand even if i dont plan to get down from the cruise ship?

Joan P.

Thanks for this blog. Truly helpful. We are booked for June 29. I was hoping you could give insights on which SHOREX to take in KL and Penang. Thanks.

For Penang, we did DIY sa Penang Hill.

For KL, you can do the usual city tour, if you haven’t explored KL before.

Shai

Hello po poor traveler. Just wanna ask kasi po naguguluhan kami sa 18% gratuity sa main dining (yung certain ports or itinerary) Automatic po ba yon once na mag dine in ka or ma add lang siya if may order ka na may bayad? Kasi nag reserved na po kami for the dining we are worried baka biglang may additional pala which is yung 18% gratuity. Thank you po! Hope makita niyo po ito. this july po kami naka sched

To be sure we’re on the same page, saan nyo po nakita yung 18% gratuity for main dining?

Kasi nung time po namin, complimentary ang Main Dining, so walang ganun. Sa mga may bayad lang sya talaga nag-aapply.

yung “18% gratuity” po ay naka lagay siya sa menu sa may lower left part po. Yung nakapost po sainyong menu. Sa premium selection. And sa app po nasa last part ng description ng “my time dining”. Medyo confusing po kasi yung part na may certain ports and itineraries.

if tama nga po ang intindi ko. Yung mga beverages na may bayad po yung magkakaroon ng addl gratuity? Sorry po dami tanong. Thank you!

Aaah it only applies to the three premium dishes sa bottom. If hindi mo naman oorderin yun, di naman mag-aapply. But we still suggest na mag-iwan pa rin ng tip sa staff lalo if OK naman ang service. :)

Okay po. Thank you so much po for answering. And sa mga infos po ninyo

Hi again poor traveler, may question po ulit ako. About sa Singapore arrival card. Mag stay po kasi kami for 2 days sa sg before cruise. thats 25-27. Ang magiging departure po ba namin ay 27? From 27-31 po yung cruise. Then after cruise mag fill out po kami uli ng Sg arrival card? Hope po na malinaw yung tanong ahaha thank you!

Hi Shai! Yep, yung departure nyo is 27. Tapos fill out ulit ng new arrival card before mag 31. :)

How about po yung “next city/after singapore” ang ilagay po namin ay malaysia or singapore?

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7,951 royal caribbean cruise stock photos, 3d objects, vectors, and illustrations are available royalty-free.   see royal caribbean cruise stock video clips, turku, finland - june 19 2023: worlds largest cruise ship icon of the seas departing for sea trials from meyer turku shipyard assisted by tug boats. aerial side view..

Turku, Finland - June 19 2023: Worlds largest cruise ship ICON OF THE SEAS departing for sea trials from Meyer Turku shipyard assisted by tug boats. Aerial side view. Editorial Stock Photo

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Nassau, Bahamas - June 22, 2019: Beautiful panoramic shot of Mariner of the Seas cruise ship docked at Prince George Wharf at sunset. Reflections in the water in the foreground. Editorial Stock Photo

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Bahamas - December 7, 2021:  The clear Caribbean Sea water leading up to a Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship at Coco Cay in the Bahamas. Editorial Stock Photo

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Miami Beach, FL,USA - January 10, 2024: Aerial photo of Royal Caribbean Icon Of The Sea at Port of Miami Editorial Stock Photo

Orlando, FL USA - December 6, 2021: The Flowrider area aboard the Royal Caribbean RCL Independence of the Seas Cruise Ship.

Orlando, FL USA - December 6, 2021:  The Flowrider area aboard the Royal Caribbean RCL Independence of the Seas Cruise Ship. Editorial Stock Photo

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City of Santos, Brazil. 22.02.11. Passengers waving aboard Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship. Editorial Stock Photo

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Kotor, Montenegro, Balkans, Europe - 10.2023 : Explorer of the Seas huge ship liner, Royal Caribbean International, Adriatic Sea, Kotor Bay, UNESCO Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor Editorial Stock Photo

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Sunset from the open deck of luxury cruise ship Stock Photo

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Costa Maya, Mexico - March 3, 2023: Cruise ships docked at the cruise terminal at Costa Maya in the Yucatan. Editorial Stock Photo

Shanghai, China - Jun 4, 2019. Aerial view of Spectrum of the Seas by Royal Caribbean in sunny day.

Shanghai, China - Jun 4, 2019. Aerial view of Spectrum of the Seas by Royal Caribbean in sunny day. Editorial Stock Photo

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COCOCAY, BAHAMAS - February 10, 2023: CocoCay is one of the Berry Islands, a collection of Bahamian cays and is used for tourism by Royal Caribbean Group exclusively. Editorial Stock Photo

Side view of Royal Caribbean's, Odyssey of the Seas ship. Palermo, Italy. August 28, 2023.

Side view of Royal Caribbean's, Odyssey of the Seas ship. Palermo, Italy. August 28, 2023. Editorial Stock Photo

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Avalon, CA, USA - September 13, 2023: Royal Caribbean, Navigator of the Seas cruise ship anchored off the coast of Catalina Island with tender boats to transport passengers.   Editorial Stock Photo

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Caribbean Sea -2023:  Royal Caribbean (RCL) Jewel of the Sea cruise ship Sail Away. Upper decks of the ship. Pool with life guard, Movie screen, Vortex night club and Diamond Club. Editorial Stock Photo

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Ensenada, BC, Mexico – June 4, 2023: Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas cruise ship with view of the water slide tube and balconies. Editorial Stock Photo

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Marseille, France - October 09, 2018: View of the casino on the Symphony of the Seas, a cruise ship of the Royal Caribbean shipping line. Editorial Stock Photo

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Allure of the Seas Royal Caribbean   May 9th, 2020:  leaving Southampton Port Editorial Stock Photo

Nassau, Bahamas - July 13, 2019: Shot of Mariner of the Seas at Prince George Wharf at sunset. Blue hour. Gorgeous light reflections in the water in the foreground. Clear blue sky in the background.

Nassau, Bahamas - July 13, 2019: Shot of Mariner of the Seas at Prince George Wharf at sunset. Blue hour. Gorgeous light reflections in the water in the foreground. Clear blue sky in the background. Editorial Stock Photo

Aerial drone top down photo of colourful top deck pool facilities in huge brand new cruise liner "Odyssey of the seas"

Aerial drone top down photo of colourful top deck pool facilities in huge brand new cruise liner "Odyssey of the seas" Stock Photo

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Miami, Fl, USA - January 2, 2022: Close up of Royal Caribbean Group logo sign at their headquarters in Miami, USA. Royal Caribbean Group is an American global cruise holding company.  Editorial Stock Photo

MIAMI - CIRCA JULY 2019 : Port side aerial view of Royal Caribbean International Cruise ship Symphony of the Seas as it departs Miami.

MIAMI - CIRCA JULY 2019 : Port side aerial view of Royal Caribbean International Cruise ship Symphony of the Seas as it departs Miami. Editorial Stock Photo

Singapore, Singapore - May 14, 2022: Aerial view of the upper deck of the Ovation of the Sea cruise ship with many leisure and entertainment areas on board. Royal Caribbean cruise ship at sea

Singapore, Singapore - May 14, 2022: Aerial view of the upper deck of the Ovation of the Sea cruise ship with many leisure and entertainment areas on board. Royal Caribbean cruise ship at sea Editorial Stock Photo

LABADEE, HAITI -January 31, 2023: Labadee is a port located on the northern coast of Haiti. It is a private resort leased to Royal Caribbean for the use of passengers of its three cruise lines.

LABADEE, HAITI -January 31, 2023: Labadee is a port located on the northern coast of Haiti. It is a private resort leased to Royal Caribbean for the use of passengers of its three cruise lines. Editorial Stock Photo

Cozumel, Mexico - April 5, 2023: View of the pool deck on the Radiance of the Seas cruise ship near Mexico.

Cozumel, Mexico - April 5, 2023: View of the pool deck on the Radiance of the Seas cruise ship near Mexico. Editorial Stock Photo

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - April 22, 2023: Royal Caribbean operate over 25 ships and owns Celebrity Cruise Lines Editorial Stock Photo

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USA. FLORIDA. MIAMI BEACH 2019: Cruise ship MS Symphony of the Seas. The largest in the world.  Editorial Stock Photo

Cozumel, Mexico - April 5, 2023: View of the Centrum on the Radiance of the Seas cruise ship - part of the Royal Caribbean fleet.

Cozumel, Mexico - April 5, 2023: View of the Centrum on the Radiance of the Seas cruise ship - part of the Royal Caribbean fleet. Editorial Stock Photo

Photos from Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean

Photos from Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Stock Photo

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - December 18, 2022: Royal Caribbean operate over 25 ships and owns Celebrity Cruise Lines Editorial Stock Photo

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MIAMI BEACH, FL -17 FEB 2023- View of the MS Freedom of the Seas, a cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean International. at Port Miami in Florida, the largest cruiseship port in the US. Editorial Stock Photo

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Caribbean Sea -2023: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (NCL) Jewel of the Sea cruise ship interior “Tides” main dining room is set for dinner service. No passengers. Empty cruise ship. Editorial Stock Photo

IJmuiden, The Netherlands - April 22nd, 2022: Voyager of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean International. Crossing North Sea canal towards Zeesluis IJmuiden

IJmuiden, The Netherlands - April 22nd, 2022: Voyager of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean International. Crossing North Sea canal towards Zeesluis IJmuiden Editorial Stock Photo

PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN Jan 14, 2011: Royal Caribbean, Allure of the Seas docked. It's the largest passenger ship ever built, just 2.0 in. longer the Oasis of the Seas

PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN Jan 14, 2011: Royal Caribbean, Allure of the Seas docked. It's the largest passenger ship ever built, just 2.0 in. longer the Oasis of the Seas  Editorial Stock Photo

Cruise ship in Puerto Rico ready to depart

Cruise ship in Puerto Rico ready to depart Stock Photo

Costa Maya, Mexico - March 29, 2023: Cruise ships docked at the cruise terminal at Costa Maya in the Yucatan.

Costa Maya, Mexico - March 29, 2023: Cruise ships docked at the cruise terminal at Costa Maya in the Yucatan. Editorial Stock Photo

Port Adelaide, South Australia, February 14, 2017: MS Ovation of the Seas cruise ship leaving Outer Harbour at sunset.

Port Adelaide, South Australia, February 14, 2017:  MS Ovation of the Seas cruise ship leaving Outer Harbour at sunset. Editorial Stock Photo

Cruise Ship docked at the beach on tropical Island.

Cruise Ship docked at the beach on tropical Island. Stock Photo

NASSAU, BAHAMAS - OCTOBER 13, 2019: The side and logo of a white Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas ship.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS - OCTOBER 13, 2019: The side and logo of a white Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas ship. Editorial Stock Photo

HONG KONG, HONG KONG - April 21 2018: Aerial view of Cruise Ship "Ovation of the Seas" owned by Royal Caribbean International cruising across the Lei Yue Mun Channel in Hong Kong. Editorial Use Only.

HONG KONG, HONG KONG - April 21 2018: Aerial view of Cruise Ship "Ovation of the Seas" owned by Royal Caribbean International cruising across the Lei Yue Mun Channel in Hong Kong. Editorial Use Only. Editorial Stock Photo

Luxury cruise ship docked at tropical Caribbean beach.

Luxury cruise ship docked at tropical Caribbean beach. Stock Photo

AMSTERDAM - MAY 13, 2016: Royal Caribbean cruise ship Serenade of the Seas heading to cruise terminal.

royal caribbean cruise singapore photos

ST THOMAS, USVI - February 2, 2023: Tourism is a major industry in St Thomas. Recovery from Covid restrictions has become to resume tourism to former levels.

ST THOMAS, USVI - February 2, 2023: Tourism is a major industry in St Thomas. Recovery from Covid restrictions has become to resume tourism to former levels. Editorial Stock Photo

MIAMI, FLORIDA - January 29, 2023: Royal Caribbean operate over 25 ships and owns Celebrity Cruise Lines

MIAMI, FLORIDA - January 29, 2023: Royal Caribbean operate over 25 ships and owns Celebrity Cruise Lines Editorial Stock Photo

Southampton, England, October, 7th, 2020. Allure of the seas, Royal Caribbean cruise ship coming in to Southampton port empty due to the pandemic Covid 19.

Southampton, England, October, 7th, 2020. Allure of the seas, Royal Caribbean cruise ship coming in to Southampton port empty due to the pandemic Covid 19. Editorial Stock Photo

ST JOHNS, ANTIGUA - MARCH 2ND 2018: The Royal Caribbean 'Anthem Of The Seas' cruise ship docked in St Johns Port, Antigua.

ST JOHNS, ANTIGUA - MARCH 2ND 2018: The Royal Caribbean 'Anthem Of The Seas' cruise ship docked in St Johns Port, Antigua. Editorial Stock Photo

Marina Bay, Singapore - July 17, 2022: The Marina Bay Cruise Centre Terminal where Luxury Cruise Ships are Docking

Marina Bay, Singapore - July 17, 2022: The Marina Bay Cruise Centre Terminal where Luxury Cruise Ships are Docking Editorial Stock Photo

NASSAU, BAHAMAS - FEB. 27, 2022: Cruise ship MS Freedom of the Seas docked at Nassau Harbour, Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS - FEB. 27, 2022: Cruise ship MS Freedom of the Seas docked at Nassau Harbour, Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas.  Editorial Stock Photo

Nassau, Bahamas - October 13, 2021: The Disney Fantasy, and two Royal Caribbean cruise ships docked at the Nassau, Bahamas port for the day.

Nassau, Bahamas - October 13, 2021:  The Disney Fantasy, and two Royal Caribbean cruise ships docked at the Nassau, Bahamas port for the day. Editorial Stock Photo

MIAMI, FL, USA - OCTOBER 9, 2019: The top of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with a balcony looking down over a pool with people and lounge chairs.

MIAMI, FL, USA - OCTOBER 9, 2019: The top of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with a balcony looking down over a pool with people and lounge chairs. Editorial Stock Photo

Miami, USA - April 29, 2022: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Jewel Of The Seas ship at Miami, USA on April 29, 2022

Miami, USA - April 29, 2022: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Jewel Of The Seas ship at Miami, USA on April 29, 2022 Editorial Stock Photo

A woman surfing on a cruise

A woman surfing on a cruise Stock Photo

FREEDOM OF THE SEAS, ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL - 03 APRIL 2008: giant luxury cruise ship is tendered next to Grand Cayman island. Caribbean sea.

FREEDOM OF THE SEAS, ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL - 03 APRIL 2008: giant luxury cruise ship is tendered next to Grand Cayman island. Caribbean sea. Editorial Stock Photo

Nassau, Bahamas - October 13, 2021: A adult beverage and view of the cruise ship harbor looking out at the turquoise blue ocean in Nassau, Bahamas on a stormy day.

Nassau, Bahamas - October 13, 2021: A adult beverage and view of the cruise ship harbor looking out at the turquoise blue ocean in Nassau, Bahamas on a stormy day. Editorial Stock Photo

Penang, Malaysia - July 22, 2022: Young Asian woman standing at edge of pier gazing at Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas docked in Penang, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia - July 22, 2022: Young Asian woman standing at edge of pier gazing at Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas docked in Penang, Malaysia  Editorial Stock Photo

Coco Cay, Bahamas - April 29, 2022: Symphony of the seas is the biggest cruise ship, docked in Cococay, the private island post that's owned by the Royal Caribbean cruise line

Coco Cay, Bahamas - April 29, 2022: Symphony of the seas is the biggest cruise ship, docked in Cococay, the private island post that's owned by the Royal Caribbean cruise line Editorial Stock Photo

Back view of traveler girl with raised arms standing in front of big cruise liner

Back view of traveler girl with raised arms standing in front of big cruise liner Stock Photo

Cruise ship sailing in ocean, white liner on blue sea with blurred sky

Cruise ship sailing in ocean, white liner on blue sea with blurred sky Stock Photo

Orlando, FL USA - September 13, 2021: The Swimming pool area aboard the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas Cruise Ship.

Orlando, FL USA - September 13, 2021:  The Swimming pool area aboard the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas Cruise Ship. Editorial Stock Photo

MEDITERRANEAN SEA, JUNE 17, 2016: Passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas relaxing by the pool during a day at sea.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA, JUNE 17, 2016:  Passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas relaxing by the pool during a day at sea. Editorial Stock Photo

Marina Bay, Singapore - September 8, 2022: A Cruise Trip Aboard The Spectrum of The Seas

Marina Bay, Singapore - September 8, 2022: A Cruise Trip Aboard The Spectrum of The Seas Editorial Stock Photo

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Seattle - July 08, 2022; Cruise Ship Celebrity Solstice and Ovation of the Seas docked in Seattle during the summer Alaska cruising season Editorial Stock Photo

Miami, FL, US - January 2, 2022: Royal Caribbean Group’s headquarters in Miami, USA. Royal Caribbean Group, formerly known as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., is an American global cruise holding company

Miami, FL, US - January 2, 2022: Royal Caribbean Group’s headquarters in Miami, USA. Royal Caribbean Group, formerly known as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., is an American global cruise holding company Editorial Stock Photo

Georgetown, Malaysia - September 20, 2022: The Swettenham Cruise Ship Terminal with Some Cruise Ships Docking

Georgetown, Malaysia - September 20, 2022: The Swettenham Cruise Ship Terminal with Some Cruise Ships Docking Editorial Stock Photo

Orlando, USA - Feb, 11: Royal Caribbean, Oasis of the Seas, the largest passenger ship constructed in the world. View of the Boardwalk area in the twilight on Orlando, USA on Feb 11, 2017.

Orlando, USA - Feb, 11: Royal Caribbean, Oasis of the Seas, the largest passenger ship constructed in the world. View of the Boardwalk area in the twilight on Orlando, USA on Feb 11, 2017.  Editorial Stock Photo

Piraeus port, Attica - Greece - September 27 2022: Aerial drone top down photo of colourful top deck pool facilities in huge brand new cruise liner Odyssey of the seas anchored in port of Piraeus

Piraeus port, Attica - Greece - September 27 2022: Aerial drone top down photo of colourful top deck pool facilities in huge brand new cruise liner Odyssey of the seas anchored in port of Piraeus Editorial Stock Photo

Nassau, Bahamas - September 7th, 2016: Active Pool Deck of the Royal Caribbean Majesty Of The Sea docked at Nassau Bahamas on September 7th, 2016

Nassau, Bahamas - September 7th, 2016: Active Pool Deck of the Royal Caribbean Majesty Of The Sea docked at Nassau Bahamas on September 7th, 2016 Editorial Stock Photo

Philipsburg, St.Maarten, Netherlands-January 13, 2016: Royal Caribbean Cruise ship Freedom of the seas sailing in bay of Philipsburgat sunny day on blue water and clear sky background

Philipsburg, St.Maarten, Netherlands-January 13, 2016: Royal Caribbean Cruise  ship Freedom of the seas sailing in bay of Philipsburgat sunny day on blue water and clear sky background Editorial Stock Photo

Philipsburg, Sint Maarten - November 16 2018: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCL/ RCCL) Serenade and Jewel Of The Seas ships docked in Sint Marteen Port. Passengers leave fun day on tropical island.

Philipsburg, Sint Maarten - November 16 2018: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCL/ RCCL) Serenade and Jewel Of The Seas ships docked in Sint Marteen Port. Passengers leave fun day on tropical island. Editorial Stock Photo

Miami, USA - April 29, 2022: Interior near pools, bars, entertainment and innovative activities at Symphony of the seas is the biggest cruise ship at Miami, USA on April 29, 2022

Miami, USA - April 29, 2022: Interior near pools, bars, entertainment and innovative activities at Symphony of the seas is the biggest cruise ship at Miami, USA on April 29, 2022 Editorial Stock Photo

Port Adelaide, South Australia, February 14, 2017: MS Ovation of the Seas cruise ship leaving Outer Harbour. It is third ship in the Quantum Class of passenger ships

Port Adelaide, South Australia, February 14, 2017:  MS Ovation of the Seas cruise ship leaving Outer Harbour. It is third ship in the Quantum Class of passenger ships Editorial Stock Photo

Juneau, Alaska - May 2022: The Serenade of the Seas cruise ship docked at the port of Juneau with snow capped mountains in the background.

Juneau, Alaska - May 2022:  The Serenade of the Seas cruise ship docked at the port of Juneau with snow capped mountains in the background. Editorial Stock Photo

Miami, USA - April 29, 2022: The water park slides and pool area on the new cruise ship Symphony of the Seas by Royal Caribbean .

Miami, USA - April 29, 2022: The water park slides and pool area on the new cruise ship Symphony of the Seas by Royal Caribbean . Editorial Stock Photo

Labadee, Haiti, May 23, 2016: Royal Caribbean, Oasis of the Seas docked in Labadee, Haiti. One of the largest passenger ship ever constructed. HDR image.

Labadee, Haiti, May 23, 2016: Royal Caribbean, Oasis of the Seas docked in Labadee, Haiti. One of the largest passenger ship ever constructed. HDR image. Editorial Stock Photo

Miami, USA - April 29, 2022: The passengers going at Promenade at cruise liner Symphony of the Seas by Royal Caribbean . The interier of ship indoor

Miami, USA - April 29, 2022: The passengers going at Promenade at cruise liner Symphony of the Seas by Royal Caribbean . The interier of ship indoor Editorial Stock Photo

Luxury dinner on a cruise ship to the Caribbean countries.

Luxury dinner on a cruise ship to the Caribbean countries. Stock Photo

Miami, USA - April 29, 2022: The interior of Promenade at cruise liner Symphony of the Seas by Royal Caribbean . The interier of ship indoor

Miami, USA - April 29, 2022: The interior of Promenade at cruise liner Symphony of the Seas by Royal Caribbean . The interier of ship indoor Editorial Stock Photo

Large cruise ship is tenderred next to the tropical island. Caribbean Sea.

Large cruise ship is tenderred next to the tropical island. Caribbean Sea. Stock Photo

Miami, USA - March 15, 2020 - Close up view of Royal Caribbean Cruise ship logo

Miami, USA - March 15, 2020 -  Close up view of Royal Caribbean Cruise ship logo Editorial Stock Photo

LABADEE, HAITI - FEBRUARY 26, 2013: Royal Caribbean cruise ship Independence of the Seas docked at the private port of Labadee in the Caribbean Island of Haiti on February 26, 2013.

LABADEE, HAITI - FEBRUARY 26, 2013: Royal Caribbean cruise ship Independence of the Seas docked at the private port of Labadee in the Caribbean Island of Haiti on February 26, 2013. Editorial Stock Photo

Bacselona, Spain - September, 6 2015: Royal Caribbean, Allure of the Seas

Bacselona, Spain - September, 6 2015: Royal Caribbean, Allure of the Seas Editorial Stock Photo

Nassau Bahamas - September 15, 2021: The Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Freedom of the Seas in Nassau, Bahamas.

Nassau Bahamas - September 15, 2021:  The Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Freedom of the Seas in Nassau, Bahamas. Editorial Stock Photo

Málaga, Spain; April 30, 2022: Wonder of the Seas is The biggest cruise in the world in Málaga port. Royal Caribbean

Málaga, Spain; April 30, 2022: Wonder of the Seas is The biggest cruise in the world in Málaga port. Royal Caribbean Editorial Stock Photo

LABADEE, HAITI - FEBRUARY 26, 2013: Royal Caribbean cruise ship Independence of the Seas docked at the private port of Labadee in the Caribbean Island of Haiti

LABADEE, HAITI - FEBRUARY 26, 2013: Royal Caribbean cruise ship Independence of the Seas docked at the private port of Labadee in the Caribbean Island of Haiti  Editorial Stock Photo

Luxury cruise ship docked in the port of Saint Thomas, US Virgin island.

Luxury cruise ship docked in the port of Saint Thomas, US Virgin island. Stock Photo

LABADEE, HAITI - FEBRUARY 26, 2013: Royal Caribbean cruise ship Allure of the Seas Sails from Port Labadee in the Caribbean Island of Haiti on February 26, 2013. It's the largest passenger ship

LABADEE, HAITI - FEBRUARY 26, 2013: Royal Caribbean cruise ship Allure of the Seas  Sails from Port Labadee in the Caribbean Island of Haiti on February 26, 2013. It's the largest passenger ship Editorial Stock Photo

COCOCAY, BAHAMAS - OCTOBER 12, 2019: An aerial/drone view of Cococay, the private island post that's owned by the Royal Caribbean cruise line where guests can spend the day having fun.

COCOCAY, BAHAMAS - OCTOBER 12, 2019: An aerial/drone view of Cococay, the private island post that's owned by the Royal Caribbean cruise line where guests can spend the day having fun. Editorial Stock Photo

LABADEE, HAITI - OCTOBER 12, 2009: Royal Caribbean Cruises, cruise ship Freedom of the seas anchored in Labadee. Labadee is a private resort leased to Royal Caribbean Cruises.

LABADEE, HAITI - OCTOBER 12, 2009:  Royal Caribbean Cruises, cruise ship Freedom of the seas anchored in Labadee. Labadee  is a private resort leased to Royal Caribbean Cruises.             Editorial Stock Photo

New York, USA - April 17, 2017: FlowRider, Deck 15, Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International ship.

                               New York, USA - April 17, 2017:  FlowRider, Deck 15, Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International ship. Editorial Stock Photo

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Planning to go on a cruise? 6 insider tips from a Singaporean who’s gone on a 26-ship odyssey

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We meet this avid Royal Caribbean fan, who reveals his favourite cabins, dining spots, and optimal times to enjoy crowded attractions onboard.

Alvin Livingstone Chew (right) has sailed on all 26 ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, including Spectrum of the Seas. (Photos: Alvin Livingstone Chew, iStock/ Davian Chang)

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Cruise holidays were once regarded as a retiree’s affair, but during the pandemic, the joys of towel-folding workshops and ABBA-themed trivia nights have revealed themselves to travellers of all ages. Among them is Alvin Livingstone Chew, who has sailed on all 26 ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet since his first “cruise to nowhere” during the pandemic.

“When you’re cruising, your holiday starts from the moment you check in onboard the ship. It’s a safe way to travel too. Even if you’re out drinking till late, you can easily go from the bar to your room without having to think about driving or booking a taxi,” said the 46-year-old Singaporean, who works as the head of business development for a hedge fund.

royal caribbean cruise singapore photos

Before the borders were lifted, Alvin worked remotely and cruised approximately five times each month. Fast forward two years, and he has already set his sights on the 27th ship, the Icon of the Seas, set to embark on its maiden voyage from Miami in 2024. There, he will reunite with friends when sailing across the globe. He had found his tribe on these voyages – a diverse community of around 20 people with whom he had weathered the ups and downs of cruising.

 “One particular incident that touched my heart was being offered shelter during a hurricane in Florida,” Chew recalled of his arrival in the United States then.

“The weather and water conditions got choppy but the ships have features that act like aeroplane wings to help things go as smoothly as possible. It is quite the experience, and you really must go through it yourself to know what I mean!”

And who better to offer insider tips than Chew, who has made cruising a way of life? He shared with CNA Lifestyle some expert tips on how first-timers can make the most of their maiden voyage.

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1. PICK THE RIGHT SHIP FOR THE RIGHT CROWD

Before you set sail, get the lowdown on what your ship has to offer you and your companions. For families with babies in tow, Alvin recommends ships like Anthem, Spectrum, and Wonder of the Seas, which come with baby splash zones to keep the little ones occupied. Read: Tire them out in time for date night.

Older kids and grown-ups, on the other hand, can let loose with laser tag, bumper cars, and different sports at SeaPlex, a zone which can be found on the Spectrum, Anthem and Quantum ships. But what keeps Chew coming back for more are the water slides.

“There’s the Tidal Wave on Liberty of the Seas, which is the first boomerang-style slide at sea. For a split second, it feels as if you’re experiencing zero gravity. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

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“Most ships have about two to three water slides but Icon of the Seas will have six, including the industry’s first open free-fall slide and the tallest drop slide at sea.”

Also not to be missed are the ice-skating rinks on Oasis, Freedom and Voyager ships, where performances typically feature ice-skaters. Alvin’s tip: Book early or show up 15 to 30 minutes ahead for a top-notch seat.

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2. CHOOSE YOUR CABIN STRATEGICALLY

Many first-timers opt for balcony rooms for good reason – there’s nothing quite like waking up to an unobstructed sea view and having breakfast delivered to you on the balcony. But other cabin options have their merits too, said Chew.

“Staying in a balcony room isn’t that important to me. I much prefer colder rooms and I find these to be the interior staterooms. I’m all about being the closest to the elevator and amenities, and these are usually in the middle of the ship.”

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For those concerned about seasickness, the middle of the ship is often considered the sweet spot where passengers experience the least amount of motion. But if discomfort still sneaks up on you, rest assured that the onboard pharmacy stocks motion sickness pills.

3. BEAT THE CROWD TO HIGHLY-COVETED ACTIVITIES

Most cruises from Singapore set sail in the evening, but savvy guests will opt for an early check-in time slot. As passengers gradually ease into their cruise routines on embarkation day, this window presents a golden opportunity to explore some of the ship's most popular attractions.

According to Chew, many professionals make a beeline for the surfing simulator, FlowRider, to catch waves well ahead of departure before snaking queues become a common sight in the following days.

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“Enthusiasts might wear swimwear onboard or pack it in a carry-on bag, so that even before checking in, they can head straight to the Solarium and pool deck,” he said.

The Solarium, an exclusive adults-only retreat boasting its own pools and jacuzzi, is yet another hidden gem that should be on your priority list before it becomes widely known to other guests.

royal caribbean cruise singapore photos

4. FIND THE PERFECT “WORKSTATION” ONBOARD

We see the eye rolls. Videoconferencing on vacation may sound blasphemous to some, but whoever said digital nomads had to operate on land? For Chew, working remotely on a cruise offers a good balance of personal time and social interaction, allowing him to be productive before winding down with fellow passengers over meals or coffee.

“There was peace and quiet to do your own thing. I could chill in the hot tub after breakfast, then clock at least 10,000 steps walking around the ship,” he said.

Chew revealed the ideal spots for "hotdesking" on Spectrum of the Seas. He singled out the boardroom, Vintages Bar and Schooner Bar as the most conducive places to set up shop.

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5. MAP OUT YOUR CULINARY ADVENTURES

If you or your parents can’t go without Asian food for more than a day, Spectrum of the Seas is right up your alley. On top of offering an array of Asian specialty restaurants, it stands out as the sole ship where guests can request Lao Gan Ma chilli sauce and chilli padi. What more can a spice-loving Singaporean ask for?

For those with a penchant for traditional Chinese teas, Leaf & Bean, a cafe exclusive to this ship, offers a selection ranging from longjing green tea to royal pu erh. And if you have a sweet tooth, Alvin suggested indulging in the red velvet osmanthus tea or Hong Kong milk tea.

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In addition, he also insisted you don’t miss the siew mai (pork and shrimp dumplings) at The Cafe @ Two70 as well as the lobster bisque and prime bone-in ribeye at Chops Grille, which is so popular you’d thank yourself for making reservations in advance. But Chew reserved his highest praise for 150 Central Park, a restaurant found on the Oasis, Allure and Harmony ships.

While most ship restaurants operate on fixed schedules, Chew shared an insider's secret about Spectrum of the Seas: Night owls can indulge in congee and laksa at La Patisserie at midnight. This gem isn’t on the app, making it a lesser-known choice for a midnight snack, in addition to the ever-popular Sorrento's pizza.

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6. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR STOPOVERS

When cruising on a three- to five-night voyage from Singapore to Port Klang, Penang or Phuket, the clock ticks quickly during your shore time. This is why Chew usually hires a driver or downloads the local ride-hailing app in advance.

“You can book S$10 Grab rides at these destinations. There’s the best bak kut teh (pork rib soup) in Port Klang and, in Penang, you can enjoy a one-hour massage for as little as S$27. That’s much cheaper than what you'd pay in Singapore.”

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In places where public transport is easy enough to navigate, though, he’s fond of venturing out on his own. These include ports of call in America and Europe, which offer a stark contrast to the landscapes typically found in Asia. His favourite? Galveston in Texas.

“ There is a relaxing, middle-of-no-where feel to the place, and there is also interesting historic architecture, picturesque beaches and good restaurants,” he said.

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If you're contemplating a fly-cruise itinerary but feeling uncertain about your starting point, here’s an idea from Chew: Begin your journey from the sunny shores of Florida.

“It’s easier to get to from other parts of the world, like Singapore, and there are different ships there for you to choose from. There are four ports in Florida: Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa.”

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Photos show Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas side-by-side. See how the world's two largest cruise ships compare.

  • The  Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas were docked at Royal Caribbean's private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay.
  • The Icon of the Seas is the new world's largest cruise ship, a title previously held by the Wonder.
  • See the two giant vessels side-by-side.

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The bigger the better, the more the merrier: The world's two largest cruise ships have finally met.

On January 15, the Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas and the newest vessel to join the company's fleet, the Icon of the Seas, were docked side-by-side at Perfect Day at CocoCay , Royal's $350 million private Bahamas island.

Until recently, the 235,600-gross-ton Wonder of the Seas was the world's largest cruise ship, spanning 1,188 feet long and 18 decks tall. The 9,288-person floating resort debuted in March 2022 with 2,867 guest cabins and amenities like a boardwalk at sea.

But in late 2023, its "world's largest" title was stripped away and given to the 20-deck Icon of the Seas, a 1,198-foot-long, 250,800 gross-ton behemoth.

The highly anticipated 9,950-person newcomer has been fitted with 2,805 cabins, a waterpark-at-sea , and a whopping 40 restaurants, bars, and lounges.

The Icon of the Seas is set to begin its first year of revenue cruises on January 27.

Ahead of its public debut, Royal Caribbean sent the vessel on an "employee shakedown cruise," or a test cruise, with a stop at its private island, a spokesperson told Business Insider.

Meanwhile, its predecessor was docked at Perfect Day as part of that ship's ongoing seven-night Caribbean cruise .

The Icon is now back at PortMiami , while the Wonder arrived at its next port of call in Cozumel, Mexico, on Wednesday.

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Watch: The world's biggest cruise ship is meant for thrill seekers

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Royal Caribbean cruise ships ranked by size from biggest to smallest — the complete list

A re you looking for the most activity-packed, megaresort-like Royal Caribbean cruise ships at sea? If so, you'll want to get on one of the biggest Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

The biggest Royal Caribbean cruise ships are, by nature, the Royal Caribbean ships with the most pools, waterslides and other deck-top activities, as well as the most onboard restaurants, bars and showrooms. They have the biggest casinos and spas among ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet as well as the most cabins and suites — and the most variation in cabin and suite types.

With room for 6,000 passengers or more, the biggest Royal Caribbean ships are truly massive resorts like you find at such landlocked destinations as Orlando and Las Vegas. If you're in the "bigger is better" camp when it comes to a resort experience, these are the Royal Caribbean ships for you.

For more cruise guides, news and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Still, Royal Caribbean doesn't just operate massive vessels. The Miami-based cruise giant also operates quite a few relatively small cruise ships that carry just 2,000 or 3,000 people and have a much more intimate feel. In some cases, these vessels are just half or a third of the size of Royal Caribbean's biggest ships. These ships, notably, have far fewer deck-top activities and interior venues than the biggest Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

The smallest Royal Caribbean cruise ships are best for vacationers who like a more intimate, less crowded resort experience.

Related: The 6 classes of Royal Caribbean ships, explained

To ensure you end up on the right Royal Caribbean ship for you, it pays to study which Royal Caribbean ships are the biggest and which are the smallest before booking.

Here is every Royal Caribbean ship currently in operation ranked from biggest to smallest.

1. Icon of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2024

Size: 250,800 gross tons

Passenger capacity : 5,610

2. Wonder of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2022

Size: 235,600 gross tons

Passenger capacity : 5,734

3. Symphony of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2018

Size: 228,081 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 5,518

4. Harmony of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2016

Size: 226,963 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 5,479

5. Oasis of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2009

Size: 226,838 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 5,602

6. Allure of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2010

Size: 225,282 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 5,484

7. Spectrum of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2019

Size: 169,379 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 4,246

8 (tied). Ovation of the Seas

Size: 168,666 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 4,180

8 (tied). Anthem of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2015

8 (tied). Quantum of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2014

11. Odyssey of the Seas

Maiden voyage : 2022

Size: 167,704 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 4,284

12. Freedom of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2006

Size: 156,271 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 3,926

13 (tied). Independence of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2008

Size: 154,407 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 3,634

13 (tied). Liberty of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2007

Passenger capacity: 3,798

15. Navigator of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2002

Size: 139,999 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 3,388

16. Mariner of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2003

Size: 139,863 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 4,000

17. Explorer of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2000

Size: 137,308 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 3,286

18 (tied). Voyager of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 1999

Size: 137,276 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 3,602

18 (tied). Adventure of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2001

Passenger capacity: 3,114

20 (tied). Jewel of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 2004

Size: 90,090 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 2,191

20 (tied). Serenade of the Seas

Passenger capacity: 2,143

20 (tied). Brilliance of the Seas

Passenger capacity: 2,142

20 (tied). Radiance of the Seas

24. enchantment of the seas.

Maiden voyage: 1997

Size: 82,910 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 2,252

25. Rhapsody of the Seas

Maiden voyage : 1997

Size: 78,419 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 1,998

26. Vision of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 1998

Size: 78,340 gross tons

Passenger capacity : 2,050

27. Grandeur of the Seas

Maiden voyage: 1996

Size: 73,817 gross tons

Passenger capacity: 1,992

What is the biggest Royal Caribbean ship?

The biggest Royal Caribbean cruise ship is the just-unveiled Icon of the Seas . Measuring 250,800 gross tons, it's not only the biggest Royal Caribbean ship but also the biggest cruise ship ever built by any line. It's loaded with more bars, restaurants, theaters and deck-top attractions than you'll find on any other ship at sea.

Icon of the Seas is the first in a new series of ships at Royal Caribbean that are bigger than anything seen before. The series is called the Icon Class.

How big is Icon of the Seas?

At 250,800 gross tons, Icon of the Seas is more than 6% larger than Royal Caribbean's 1-year-old Wonder of the Seas , which previously was the biggest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet (and the biggest ship operated by any line). Icon of the Seas can carry up to 7,600 passengers — a new record for a passenger ship. That's about 7% higher than the maximum capacity of Wonder of the Seas, which can hold up to 7,084 passengers.

The bigger passenger capacity is partly due to the ship's greater focus on family travelers. Icon of the Seas was built with a lot more cabins that have plenty of extra bunks to accommodate families with many children. It also has more amenities geared toward families. This includes a new-for-the-line outdoor "neighborhood" called Surfside dedicated to families with young children.

What is the smallest Royal Caribbean ship?

The smallest Royal Caribbean cruise ship is Grandeur of the Seas. Measuring just 73,817 tons, it's just a third the size of Icon of the Seas.

Grandeur of the Seas dates to 1996, a time when cruise ships were built far smaller than they are today and with far fewer venues. At 27 years old, it's the oldest vessel in the Royal Caribbean fleet and probably will be phased out sometime in the next few years.

Except for a rock climbing wall, Grandeur of the Seas has none of the gee-whiz Royal Caribbean top-deck attractions found on newer Royal Caribbean vessels, such as skydiving simulators and giant water parks. For the most part, its top deck is lined with pools, whirlpools and sunning areas, as is typical for ships built in the 1990s.

That said, Grandeur of the Seas has a loyal following among Royal Caribbean fans who prefer smaller and more intimate ships.

Are bigger Royal Caribbean ships coming?

Royal Caribbean currently has three new cruise ships on order, all of which will be among its biggest cruise ships ever — if not the biggest.

The first to arrive in July will be Utopia of the Seas , the sixth and final vessel in the line's iconic Oasis Class series. Launched in 2009 with the debut of Oasis of the Seas, the Oasis-class ships have dominated the world of mega-size cruise ships since that year. At the time the class began rolling out, the vessels were around 40% bigger than the next-biggest cruise ships, and they have continued to be the biggest and most amenity-laden ships in the world ever since.

Utopia of the Seas is expected to be roughly the same size as Wonder of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's second-biggest cruise ship. But it'll be smaller than the line's biggest ship, Icon of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean also has two more vessels similar to Icon of the Seas on order from shipyards for delivery in 2025 and 2026, respectively. Both ships are expected to be as big or bigger than Icon of the Seas.

Related: The ultimate guide to Icon of the Seas itineraries, attractions and more

What's the difference between bigger and smaller Royal Caribbean ships?

Royal Caribbean's biggest ships have room for many more onboard venues and attractions than Royal Caribbean's older ships. That makes them more alluring for vacationers who prefer a big, bustling megaresort experience to a stay at a smaller resort.

On Royal Caribbean's biggest Oasis-class vessels, for instance, you'll find three separate main pool areas, a kiddie splash zone, surfing simulators, a miniature golf course, a basketball court and even a zip line. And that's just on their top decks. Inside the vessels, you'll find more lounges, bars, restaurants and shops than you can imagine — plus huge casinos, spas and showrooms with Broadway-style shows. They even have indoor ice skating rinks.

The line's new Icon of the Seas has a similar array of amenities.

Related: The ultimate guide to Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean's smallest ships are a half to a third smaller than the Oasis Class and Icon Class vessels and lack many of the above features. They have a much more intimate feel, at least in the pantheon of relatively big, mass-market ships, and they hold far fewer people. While Oasis Class and Icon Class ships can hold more than 5,400 passengers at double occupancy, the line's four oldest vessels (known as the Vision class) are only designed to carry about 2,000 passengers at double occupancy.

Royal Caribbean's smallest ships are a good choice for someone who wants to try Royal Caribbean but isn't eager to travel with huge crowds. The smallest ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet thus appeal to a subset of Royal Caribbean fans who prefer more intimacy in a cruise vessel and don't mind giving up some onboard amenities to get it. They are also often less expensive on a per-day basis for cruisers.

Related: Don't miss out on these Royal Caribbean loyalty perks

Additionally, because of their size, the smallest Royal Caribbean ships can operate itineraries to places that aren't as easy for big ships to visit. Not all ports in the world can handle a ship the size of Icon of the Seas.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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  • 8 cabin locations on cruise ships you should definitely avoid
  • Which cruise brand is best for you? A guide to the most popular lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your first cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways that cruising newbies waste money on their first cruise
  • The 15 best cruise ships for people who never want to grow up
  • Cruise packing list: The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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World’s largest cruise ship is a climate liability

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MIAMI – When Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas embarks on its first official voyage on Jan 27, the journey is sure to make waves. The world’s largest cruise ship, the Icon, is over 360m long and weighs in around 250,000 gross registered tonnes. It boasts 20 different decks; 40 restaurants, bars and lounges; seven pools; six waterslides and a 17m waterfall. Royal Caribbean says its boat will usher in “a new era of vacations”. 

Maybe so. But the Icon is also a doubling down on a negative aspect of cruising’s current era: greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2022, Mr Bryan Comer, director of the Marine Programme at the International Council on Clean Transportation, examined the carbon footprint of cruising compared with a hotel stay plus air travel – since cruises are effectively floating hotels. His analysis found that a person taking a US cruise for 2,000km on the most efficient cruise line would be responsible for roughly 500kg of carbon dioxide (CO2), compared with 235kg for a round-trip flight and a stay in a four-star hotel. In other words, taking a cruise generates “about double the amount of total greenhouse gas emissions” as flying, he says.

Not to mention, “usually people fly to take a cruise”, notes Ms Stella Bartolini Cavicchi, marine policy adviser at OceanMind, a non-profit organisation that uses satellite and other technologies to understand humans’ impact on the sea. Flying to a cruising port means you “end up with quite a carbon-intensive holiday”, she says. 

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson says the Icon is designed to operate 24 per cent more efficiently than the international standard for new ships, which per International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations must already be 30 per cent more energy-efficient than those built in 2014. The company will also monitor the Icon “over the next six to 12 months to ensure that we’re getting what we were designing the ship to be”, the spokesperson said.

In 2022, the most recent year for which data is available, Royal Caribbean direct (or Scope 1) emissions totalled 5.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, up from 5.3 million tonnes in 2019. 

Just a few years ago, the future of cruising seemed like it was in dire straits. When Covid-19 travel restrictions grounded ships for months on end, there was major concern in the industry that passenger interest would be slow to return. But as soon as restrictions were lifted, “people did not think twice”, Ms Bartolini Cavicchi says. “The Oceania world cruise sold out within one day in January 2021. People were just dying to get back out there.”

The Cruise Lines International Association (Clia), which says its membership accounts for roughly 95 per cent of global cruise trips, predicts passenger volume will hit 36 million in 2024, up from almost 32 million in 2023 and 30 million in 2019. In 2023, the ClimateTrace coalition, of which OceanMind is a member, published an analysis that found cruise ship emissions are already 6 per cent higher than they were before the pandemic.

Cruise ships’ climate impact is not limited to emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere. The enormous vessels also spew a soot-like substance known as black carbon, which absorbs sunlight and traps heat on the ground. In the Arctic, which is playing host to a growing number of cruises, black carbon can settle on snow and ice, speeding up the rate at which glaciers melt. Ms Bartolini Cavicchi says that while cruise ships account for around 1 per cent of the global fleet, they are responsible for 6 per cent of black carbon emissions.

Unlike flying, whose climate impact spurred flygskam, or flight-shaming, cruise ships do not always get the same environmental scrutiny. That is in part because shipping is often seen as more energy-efficient than air travel, which is true for cargo ships, thanks to their relatively small living areas and efficient use of space. Cruise ships, by contrast, are energy hogs: Paying vacationers expect more square footage, and modern cruises offer a slew of amenities. 

“You’ve got things like heating the pool and keeping the lights on,” Mr Comer says. “(You) have heating and air conditioning; you’ve got the casino. There’s just a lot of equipment to keep running to keep everybody entertained and comfortable.” 

At the same time, cruise companies are quick to cite sustainability goals. Royal Caribbean Cruises, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have all pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, while Carnival Corp plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. 

To meet those goals, cruise operators are increasingly replacing oil-based fuels with less carbon-intensive alternatives, most commonly liquified natural gas (LNG). The Clia says that, of the 44 new vessels on order through 2028, more than half will be powered by natural gas. The Icon of the Seas runs on a 300-tonne LNG fuel tank.

LNG-powered ships do emit 25 per cent less CO2 than those running on conventional marine fuels, but one 2023 investigation by environmental activists found that cruise ships running on LNG often leak some of it directly into the atmosphere as methane, a greenhouse gas that in the short term is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide. For three out of four engine types, the investigation determined that LNG was worse for the climate in the short term than conventional fuels. 

Mr Comer says cruise ship operators could transition to more sustainable fuels. Replacing LNG with methanol – an alternative that has little to no lifecycle emissions – would slash methane output. 

The Royal Caribbean spokesperson says that when the Icon was designed eight years ago, LNG was the “next new-age fuel for any ship” and the vessel’s engine was the most efficient option. The company’s next ship – the Utopia of the Seas, slated for completion this spring – will have a different engine designed to reduce the risk of methane leaks.

The Celebrity Xcel, which is part of Royal Caribbeans’ Celebrity subsidiary and expected to begin operations in 2025, is being designed with an engine that can run on three kinds of fuel, including methanol. 

The maritime industry overall is under pressure to cut emissions. In 2023, the IMO began requiring companies with ships over a certain size to calculate an Energy Efficiency eXisting Ship Index (Eexi) and to begin collecting data related to an operational Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), which factors in a ship’s emissions, the amount of cargo being transported and the distance travelled. 

Starting from 2024, ships will receive an A to E sustainability rating based on their data; those with a D rating for three consecutive years, or an E for one year, will have to submit a plan for improvement, though it is unclear what penalties there are for poor performance. 

But the cruise industry is pushing for a metric that does not factor in distance travelled, as cruise ships’ time in port means they are likely to receive a worse CII rating. The vessels’ hotel-like infrastructure still requires significant energy use even when there are fewer people on board and no nautical miles being traversed. 

“The metric is not set up for ships that do not move continuously,” says the Royal Caribbean spokesperson. 

Recent research indicates this inconsistency could even incentivise cruise ships to adopt itineraries with more time on the move, which would increase their overall emissions. The authors suggested replacing distance travelled with percentage of time spent at sea. BLOOMBERG

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What the World’s Largest Cruise Ship Is Really Like, from a Passenger Aboard Its First Voyage (Exclusive)

The massive and much-hyped ship embarks on its maiden voyage from Port Miami on Jan. 27, but PEOPLE got a first look during the preview sailing

Natalia Senanayake is an Editorial Assistant, Lifestyle at PEOPLE. She covers all things travel and home, from celebrities' luxury mansions to breaking travel news.

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Royal Caribbean

Calling all cruisers! Royal Caribbean’s shiny new ship, Icon of the Seas , is finally ready to make its official debut.

PEOPLE got a first look at the world’s largest cruise ship on a preview sailing ahead of its official maiden voyage on Jan. 27, and spent days exploring the vessel to see if it’s really the perfect combination of “thrill and chill” like the cruise line says. After experiencing a trip on the floating mini city (really, it has eight neighborhoods including a Central Park!), we can confirm that Icon has everything cruise lovers could want in a vacation and then some. 

Here’s everything to know about the record-breaking Icon of the Seas, including what you can only learn by sailing on it. 

The ship will depart from Port Miami next week for its first seven-night sailing and head for a number of destinations throughout the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

Ports will include Puerto Costa Maya in Mexico, Roatan in Honduras, Cozumel in Mexico, Basseterre in St. Kitts & Nevis, Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas, and Royal Caribbean's private island retreat Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas.

Prices for both trips currently range from $3,600 all the way up to $100,000 per week depending on the route and type of accommodation. 

The Superlatives

Icon of the Seas is breaking records in more ways than one. It boasts the world’s largest water park at sea ( Category 6 ) and pool at sea ( Royal Bay ). It's also just slightly longer than and holds a higher passenger and crew capacity than Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas , which formerly had the title of largest cruise ship in the world.

After completing a round of sea trials in June 2023 and naming soccer star Lionel Messi its official Icon in December, the ship is finally ready to start bringing cruisers on a larger-than-life vacation through the Caribbean. 

It’s Basically a Floating City

Cruisers can spend hours exploring each of the eight neighborhoods aboard the ship that all strive to create a unique travel experience based on specific vacation styles. The open-air Central Park is a lush oasis that surrounds passengers with four live plant walls and offers a number of restaurants and bars to dine at — including a walk-up champagne bar and an eight-course dining experience at Empire Supper Club . Guests can even let loose and sway along to live music at Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues . 

The Royal Promenade boasts stunning ocean views through the cruise line’s first floor-to-ceiling window feature equipped with connected decks. The neighborhood also offers more than 15 dining options (the ship in total offers over 40 ways to dine and drink) that can be enjoyed by families and solo adult passengers alike. Additional restaurants, bars and cafes can be found at the AquaDome which has a 55-foot waterfall display as well as panoramic views of the ocean. 

For those looking to lounge by the pool and relax, The Hideaway offers a suspended infinity pool overlooking the sparkling sea, while Chill Island features the most expansive pool at sea at 5,813 sq. ft. The neighborhood also includes a swim-up bar, Swim & Tonic , where cruisers can enjoy refreshing frozen drinks while wading in the water. However, because the ship can hold up to 7,600 guests at max capacity, the bar gets packed pretty quickly so you'll need to claim your spot early.

For adventurers and families, Thrill Island and Surfside are the spots to be. Thrill Island is where Category 6, is located, along with additional daring excursions like the free-fall Pressure Drop slide, FlowRider surf simulator and rock climbing at Adrenaline Peak. Thrill-seeking cruisers can also challenge themselves at Crown’s Edge where they’ll be suspended 154 feet above sea level. 

Meanwhile at Surfside, Royal Caribbean’s first-ever neighborhood designed specifically for families, parents and kids can enjoy their own mini adventures through the beach-themed carousel, family festival and more fun-filled activities. Parents can even have a chance to unwind at the Water’s Edge pool while they watch their kids play in the nearby Splashaway Bay or Baby Bay.

Last but not least, at the Suite Neighborhood , guests can experience the multilevel sundeck at The Grove, enjoy the luxurious private pool and eat at the two-deck Coastal Kitchen. 

Accommodations for All Kinds

With 2,805 staterooms and more than 28 different types of rooms, Icon of the Seas offers a unique way of cruise living. Guests can soak in the views in Royal Caribbean’s first-ever Infinite Balcony Room that can fit up to four people. The room’s private terrace allows cruisers to escape for a while and breathe in the fresh, salty air. 

Surfside Family Suites accommodate families of four and are conveniently located in the heart of Surfside making it easy for kids to jump straight into the action. They offer a private balcony that overlooks the neighborhood so families can always have a glimpse of the fun. 

To take a family getaway above and beyond, cruisers can consider booking the 2,523 sq. ft. Ultimate Family Townhouse that accommodates up to eight people. The three-story space boasts an indoor slide, a wraparound balcony with a whirlpool, an outdoor patio with table tennis and direct access to Surfside. 

This accommodation is so packed with activities and extra space that it costs $100,000 for the whole seven-night sailing and it's already booked through the next year.

Another noteworthy suite is the two-level Icon Loft which is priced at approximately $64,000 for a week. It includes a private hot tub, a wraparound balcony, a piano and primary bedroom with a freestanding bathtub. Both the Icon Loft and Ultimate Family Townhouse offer complimentary specialty restaurants, special beverage packages and unlimited wifi.

Meanwhile, all Sea Class rooms require guests to purchase separate wifi packages.

The least expensive stateroom on Icon of the Seas is the Interior Plus which costs about $3,600 a week.

Entertainment

The option to enjoy live entertainment is always a plus on any vacation, especially if you’re looking to escape some of the chaos happening throughout the 20 decks on board. A good place to start would be the first rendition of The Wizard of Oz at sea in the Royal Theater. The production is similar to a Broadway-level show, from cast members floating over the audience to fake snow falling from the ceiling and more spectacular special effects in between. 

To see the first cast of robots perform the unimaginable, guests can head to the AquaTheater at the AquaDome to see performances that blend together theatrical and live-action movie experiences.

If a show isn’t the vibe for the night, cruisers should head over to Boleros bar and lounge to hear Travesia bring Latin rhythms to life. Afterwards, the Adult Comedy LIVE! show located in The Attic is a good place to laugh the night away.

A Mini Paradise Awaits at CocoCay and the New Hideaway Beach 

It wouldn’t be a Royal Caribbean cruise without a Perfect Day at CocoCay stop. The company’s private Bahamas island retreat promises to keep the adventure going at Thrill Waterpark with 14 slides to ride.

The island is also offering a new addition for adults only called Hideaway Beach — its first-ever private escape where grownups can admire the stunning white sand and turquoise waters without any interruptions. 

While the new addition does imitate a relaxing beach club feel with free-flowing drinks and snacks to enjoy all day long, it also presents a similar issue to Swim & Tonic in that it gets packed really quickly. Be prepared to walk to the other side of the cove and spend a few minutes looking for a lounge chair before you can sit back and relax.

A Few More Things to Keep in Mind

Although this is the largest cruise ship in the world, cruisers should expect to feel the boat moving from time to time. Depending on the weather, it can rock to the point that guests may lose their balance, and it's definitely more intense towards the front of the ship. For those who get seasick easily, it's best to book a stateroom towards the back of the ship where less movement is felt.

This truly is a massive ship. It has a gross tonnage of 250,800 which is about five times more than the Titanic at 46,328, according to CNN . It also takes approximately six minutes to walk from one end of the ship to the other — and that's without stopping to chat with the incredibly friendly crew members on board.

And for the ultimate cruise nerds, Icon's Captain Henrik Loy told preview guests that the ship can reach a speed of about 24 knots (28 mph) during an exclusive tour of the vessel's bridge. The ship was cruising at about 11 knots (13 mph) during this sailing, and the captain added that the max speed is very fast and not needed for this type of trip.

Icon of the Seas Is Just the Beginning  

Also during the preview sailing, Royal Caribbean shared an exclusive look ahead at the next epic adventure they have up their sleeve. Star of the Seas will become the newest ship to join the cruise line's Icon Class when it makes its debut in August 2025. While it won't be the next largest cruise ship in the world, it will still aim to create an epic vacation on board through its accommodations, dining, entertainment and more.

The company also confirmed that an unnamed Icon 3 ship is currently in the works, but the timing and name of the ship has not yet been announced.

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