Royal Caribbean: What’s Included on a Cruise? 

I remember going on my first Royal Caribbean cruise; while trying to budget for the trip I found that a lot of things were included, but I also had to plan for additional costs. If you’re planning to go on one, you’re likely wondering, what exactly is included in the price for a Royal Caribbean cruise? You’ll want to know what you can expect to enjoy without paying extra and what you might want to splurge on. 

In this article we’ll tell you all you need to know about what’s included on Royal Caribbean cruises.

Royal Caribbean: What’s Included Quick Take

Aimed at travelers of all ages, Royal Caribbean cruises offer a wide variety of activities, dining, and drinking–some of which is included in your base fare and some of which isn’t, since Royal Caribbean is not an all-inclusive cruise line. Generally there are a few complimentary restaurants and a range of included activities on every ship, but specialty restaurants, drinks, and some activities are extra. Read on for details.

Royal Caribbean: What’s Included Overview

The upfront cost of your Royal Caribbean cruise covers your stateroom plus quite a few activities and amenities, as well as some food and beverages. While a Royal Caribbean cruise is not all-inclusive, the initial price of your trip does include a lot of different elements of the cruise experience.

Royal Caribbean: What’s Included for Food and Beverages

Some food and nonalcoholic beverages are included in the base fare of your Royal Caribbean cruise. Food and drinks can make a big difference in your overall cost, which will depend on the type of experience you want to have on your cruise. For example, anyone who wants to drink alcoholic beverages will either have to pay for each (pricey) drink on board or purchase a Royal Caribbean drink package in advance. 

And while a few restaurants are included in your fare, there are plenty that aren’t. Complimentary restaurants on Royal Caribbean include the Main Dining Room and the casual self-serve Windjammer Cafe, The specialty restaurants cost extra, so if you want that sort of dining experience it can add up quickly.

Each guest receives unlimited access to water, coffee, tea, lemonade, and juices at no additional charge. Plus, you can get complimentary continental breakfast items delivered to your room. (Note that regular coffee is offered in several areas, but if you want specialty coffee drinks you’ll have to pay extra for that.)

To give you an idea of what we spent on our first Royal Caribbean cruise, we only paid for one specialty restaurant. We went for lunch (offered at a discount price). The rest of the time we went to the Main Dining Room for dinner and the Windjammer Cafe or pizza place for other meals. 

For drinks we did not get a package because we knew it would not be worth it to us.

Royal Caribbean: What’s Included of the Activities 

From rock climbing walls and FlowRider surf simulators to Escape Rooms, skydiving simulators, casinos, Broadway shows, ice skating rinks, zip-lines, and more, Royal Caribbean has something for everyone onboard. But which activities are included in your fare? 

Many of the activities and experiences onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships are completely open to guests and do not cost extra. The onboard entertainment is all free to guests. These include offerings like Broadway shows, ice shows, AquaTheater shows, and live music. The specific options differ on each ship and trip, so be sure to check the entertainment itinerary for yours.

Guests also have full access to pools and hot tubs onboard, as well as activities like waterslides, ziplines, laser tag, rock climbing, and more. Again, what is offered is specific to each individual ship.

There are also free fitness centers onboard each ship, and free kids’ programs available for children ages three to seventeen. 

Plus, guests will be given access to the Royal Caribbean app with guest-to-guest chat features to enhance your experience and stay connected with others.

Royal Caribbean: What’s Not Included

So what’s not included on Royal Caribbean cruises? One of the biggest expenses not included in the initial cost is gratuity. 

Royal Caribbean charges an automatic service gratuity of $18.00 USD per person, per day for guests in non-suites staterooms and Junior Suite, or $20.50 USD per person, per day for guests in Suites. You can also prepay your gratuity, which is what I do to make things easier on board.

Additional gratuity is added for the purchase of beverages, mini-bars, and other extra services. This is a cost you should consider when budgeting for your Royal Caribbean cruise. 

Food and Beverages

If you’re interested in specialty dining options, those will come at an extra cost. These options include additional onboard restaurants and choices beyond the continental breakfast menu and included restaurants. And if you’d like to upgrade your room service option to 24/7 access, then you’ll be charged extra.

You can pay for meals at the specialty restaurants before your trip as well to keep things seamless.

Any specialty drinks outside the water, juice, tea, and coffee will also cost more. This includes alcohol, soda, bottled water, and specialty coffees. A beverage package can be added to your initial cost that covers most of these options as well. 

There are four Royal Caribbean drink packages to choose from (water, classic soda, refreshments, and deluxe). Each of these packages includes different beverages and has a different price. The water package gives you a certain number of Evian bottles in your room; the soda package gives you unlimited refills on all fountain drinks; and the refreshment package covers nonalcoholic beverages like coffee, tea, bottled water, fountain soda, fresh OJ, and virgin cocktails. 

The most expensive is the deluxe package, which covers all the nonalcoholic beverages above plus alcoholic beverages. These are unlimited, but only for drinks that cost $12 and under. If a drink you want is more than $12, you have to pay the difference. This package also gives you a discount on bottles of wine at the restaurants.

Gratuity is not included with any of these Royal Caribbean drink packages.

Activities and Excursions

Royal Caribbean cruises do offer extra onboard activities and onshore excursions, but guests will be charged extra. Activities include things like culinary classes, spa treatments, and the Royal Escape room. 

The specific offerings and details for each of these experiences will depend on your cruise ship and itinerary, so make sure to look into these before boarding your cruise ship. Often you can purchase them in advance.

Select Amenities

There are also a few extra amenities that come with an additional cost. For guests with very young children (babies and toddlers under 3) there are nursery services available, but it is not included in the initial price. You’ll be charged for each day you use the nursery.

Laundry services are also available, but there is a per item or per bag charge depending on the amount and frequency of washing. Plus, there is a daily Wi-Fi charge for guests who want access to it while cruising.

So a Royal Caribbean cruise isn’t all-inclusive, but you do get a lot for that initial cost. Most of your dining and beverages are included and so are most of the activities onboard. You’ll just need to plan ahead for things like gratuity, upgraded dining and beverages, or any extra services and activities. 

Some people barely spend anything extra beyond the initial payment and gratuities, while some guests can spend thousands extra. It all depends on the type of cruise experience you’re looking for.

If you’re ready to plan your Royal Caribbean cruise, we have several other articles that may help: Is a Royal Caribbean Cruise Worth It?; Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian Cruise Lines; Princess vs. Royal Caribbean Cruises; and Cruise Packing List for Royal Caribbean.

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