These big, bold, loud ships are packed with activities you wouldn't expect to find at sea — from ice skating rinks and rock climbing walls to skydiving simulators, bionic bartenders, bumper cars, and even surfing simulators. Just how big are these vessels? The fleet includes the largest cruise ship in the world, Harmony of the Seas, which sails with 6,780 passengers when it is at full capacity.
What We Love
Staying Connected: This is the line for you if you want to Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, and even stream movies while on board. Royal Caribbean has the fastest internet at sea, with high-speed Wi-Fi available fleet wide. For passengers who hate the idea of unplugging, this Voom internet service is a big bonus to cruising on Royal Caribbean.
Fast Boarding: The new check-yourself-in-at-home process, which allows you to go from the curb to your cabin in mere minutes, really sets this line apart. Best of all, you can upload a photo at home rather than having to take one (travel weary, bedraggled, and possibly even jet lagged) on the day you board.
Amusement Park-Style Activities: Some of these ships have bumper cars, a merry-go-round, miniature golf courses, ice skating rinks, and zip lines, and Harmony of the Seas also has the Abyss, which — at 10 stories tall — is the longest slide at sea.
Innovative Entertainment: The lineup includes full-scale productions of Broadway shows such as “Cats,” "Grease," and “Shrek the Musical.” In addition, animated DreamWorks characters make appearances in parades and shows on ice or in water. You can also see live aerialists interact with robotically controlled video screens.
Art Collections: Newer ships have impressive modern art collections, with interactive installations that move and change, and playful, colorful static pieces throughout.
Best Known For
Nightlife: Night owls will find plenty of action. Spend the evening in the Vegas-style Casino Royale, toast with cocktails and a view in the Viking Crown Lounge, check out the two-level disco, or try salsa dancing at Boleros.
Cabin Choices: These ships have as many as 34 cabin categories, and there’s a price level for everyone. Look for innovative designs, including two-story loft suites, cabins with views of the ship’s mall-like promenade, and inside cabins with “virtual balconies,” designed around a full-length LCD screen that displays a real-time video feed of the sea.
Johnny Rockets: On a dozen of the ships, for a $4.95 cover charge you can sit in a poolside diner and order those familiar burgers, chili fries, and shakes.
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Who It's Best For
The Young (and Young at Heart): This mainstream line appeals to cruisers of all ages, with plenty of activity and entertainment options as well as extensive kids clubs. Families flock to the larger, newer ships while the more seasoned crowd is more often found on the line’s smaller, older ships.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
You Can Get Lost: On the first day, you’ll need to consult the deck plan often, or download an app, to be able to figure out how to get around.
Crowds Are Unavoidable: These are big ships, and you’ll be one of many searching for an available lounge chair on the sun deck on a sunny day, or hoping to catch the last seat in a show lounge, or waiting for your omelette at the buffet.
Food Isn’t the Main Draw Here: Our opinion of most food on board? It’s okay, not great. The few exceptions include Miami-based Chef Michael Schwartz's restaurants — 150 Central Park and Michael's Genuine Pub — and several of the top specialty restaurants on the line's newer ships, including the molecular gastronomy-inspired Wonderland and Jamie’s Italian, which was designed in partnership with British TV personality, Jamie Oliver. In addition, on Quantum-class class ships, even the buffet has gotten a welcome upgrade, and we were pleased to see both amazing variety and high-quality ingredients such as excellent cheese, charcuterie, and olives.
Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.