Royal Caribbean is a recognized name in the cruise industry, known for its diverse fleet that caters to a wide range of traveler preferences. From the recently launched “Wonder of the Seas” in 2022 to the long-serving “Grandeur of the Seas” from 1996, each ship in their lineup offers distinct features and experiences. Whether it’s the state-of-the-art amenities, diverse dining options, or the thrilling entertainment, there’s a reason seasoned cruisers and newbies alike are drawn to this cruise line.
But with so many ships to choose from, making a decision can be daunting. That’s why we’ve put together this guide, ranking the best Royal Caribbean cruise ships based on various factors, including guest feedback and onboard amenities. Whether you’re traveling alone, with a partner, or with family, this guide aims to help you find the Royal Caribbean ship that best suits your needs.
Best Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships Ranked
1. Wonder of the Seas
Overall Score: 9.8/10
Wonder of the Seas currently holds the title of the world’s largest cruise ship, and it can host an impressive 6,988 passengers. Its design smartly divides the vast space into eight distinct neighborhoods. The Boardwalk neighborhood offers a carnival vibe with its carousel and AquaTheater, while Central Park provides a serene space with real trees and plants.
What we particularly like is the ship’s unique “holes” in the middle, creating certain interior areas that are open to the sky. If you’re traveling with family, the Youth Zone is a game-changer, boasting an extensive kids club area and a youth lounge. For thrill-seekers, the Pool and Sports Zone has surf simulators, zip lines, and more. And if luxury is your thing, the Suite Neighborhood offers top-tier suites, an exclusive restaurant, and a sun deck.
However, some guests have mentioned that certain dining venues can get crowded during peak times, which might require a bit of planning on your part. But overall, Wonder of the Seas offers a diverse and memorable experience.
2. Odyssey of the Seas
Overall Score: 9.6/10
Odyssey of the Seas, a gem in Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Ultra class, offers a blend of innovative features and traditional cruise experiences. We really like the SeaPlex, an expansive indoor activity space. It’s not just a place for bumper cars or basketball; it transforms for trapeze lessons, roller skating, and even hosts a 4D virtual reality experience. The ship’s two-level pool deck, with its resort-style layout, is another feature we found inviting, especially the lime and coconut bars that flank both sides.
For those who have a penchant for dining, Odyssey doesn’t disappoint. Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar stood out for us, offering authentic Italian pizza and a variety of pasta dishes. The Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, with its vast array of beers and arcade games, offers a lively atmosphere for both adults and kids.
However, a minor point to consider is the pricing at some specialty restaurants, including Giovanni’s. Some guests felt it was a bit on the higher side. But given the ship’s plethora of offerings and experiences, Odyssey of the Seas remains a compelling choice for many travelers.
3. Allure of the Seas
Overall Score: 9.5/10
Allure of the Seas is a ship that has consistently impressed travelers with its blend of activities and amenities. This ship is designed to cater to a wide range of preferences, ensuring that every passenger finds something tailored to their interests. The ship boasts a plethora of activities, from zip lining and rock climbing walls to Broadway shows and ice skating rinks. For those who prefer a more relaxed pace, the top decks offer multiple pools, hot tubs, and even a mini-golf course. Families traveling with children will appreciate the H2O Zone Water Park, a dedicated space for kids to enjoy water fun without the need for swimming.
The dining options on Allure of the Seas are vast and varied. With 22 restaurants onboard, passengers can indulge in global cuisines, from Italian dishes at Giovanni’s Table to Mexican delights at El Loco Fresh. The entertainment is top-notch, with shows like Oceanaria, an acrobat diving show, and Skate Games, an ice skating performance that leaves audiences in awe.
However, some travelers have mentioned that the service at the 150 Central Park restaurant can be a bit slow.
4. Oasis of the Seas
Overall Score: 9.4/10
With a length of 1,186 feet and the capacity to host 5,400 passengers, Oasis of the Seas is a floating city of entertainment and relaxation. We appreciate the ship’s diverse dining options, from the complimentary Windjammer buffet to specialty restaurants like Chops Grill and Giovanni’s. The entertainment onboard is top-notch, with the Aqua80 aqua show being a standout, combining dancers, swimmers, and high divers in a spectacle that rivals some Vegas shows.
For those who love activities, the ship doesn’t disappoint. The Flowriders surf simulators, the ultimate abyss slide, and mini-golf are just a few of the attractions that keep guests engaged.
However, our only gripe is the pool area, which can get crowded on sea days, especially with the smoking area situated close to the main pool. But with its recent refurbishments and the consistent Royal Caribbean standard of service, Oasis of the Seas remains a top choice for many.
5. Symphony of the Seas
Overall Score: 9.4
Symphony of the Seas isn’t just big; it’s packed with fun at every corner. Imagine strolling through Central Park onboard, surrounded by over 20,000 tropical plants. It’s a peaceful break from the buzz of activities. If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll love the Boardwalk area. It’s like a trip down memory lane with a carousel and a candy store that feels straight out of a seaside town.
For those who love a bit of thrill, the Ultimate Abyss slide and the twin FlowRider surf simulators are a must-try. And when it’s time to eat, you’re in for a treat. From Mexican delights at El Loco Fresh to the freshest seafood at Hooked Seafood, there’s something for every palate. Oh, and don’t miss out on the Bionic Bar with robot bartenders – it’s a fun twist!
Just a heads up, the shows are super popular, so it’s a good idea to book them early. All in all, Symphony of the Seas promises a trip filled with memories.
6. Harmony of the Seas
Overall Score: 9.3/10
Launched in 2016, Harmony of the Seas offers activities and experiences onboard that truly stand out. We were particularly taken with the Ultimate Abyss slide, the tallest at sea, offering an adrenaline rush like no other. The Flowrider surf simulators are another highlight, perfect for those looking to catch a wave. If relaxation is more your style, the Solarium provides a serene adults-only retreat, though we did notice it lacks a pool.
When it comes to dining, Harmony offers a diverse range. From the whimsical dishes at Wonderland to the hearty Italian fare at Jamie’s Italian, there’s a culinary journey waiting at every corner. Despite its many offerings, some guests have mentioned the main pool areas can get a bit crowded during peak times. Still, with all the other things it offers, Harmony of the Seas ensures a memorable cruise experience.
7. Mariner of the Seas
Overall Score: 9.2/10
Mariner of the Seas is a vessel designed for both adventure and relaxation. With its capacity to accommodate 4,000 guests, it’s like traveling with your very own city. We particularly enjoyed the SkyPad, a unique virtual reality center where you can jump on trampolines and immerse yourself in a video game. For those who love water activities, the ship offers two water slides and the FlowRider wave pool, which allows for both bodysurfing and stand-up surfing.
The dining experience on Mariner of the Seas is diverse. Specialty restaurants such as Chops Grille, Jaime’s Italian, and Izumi Hibachi & Sushi offer world-class dining experiences. For coffee lovers, there’s even a Starbucks onboard.
However, while the ship offers a lot of dining and activity options, it can sometimes feel crowded, especially around the elevators. But with its variety of entertainment and dining choices, Mariner of the Seas ensures a memorable journey for its guests.
8. Freedom of the Seas
Overall Score: 9.3/10
Freedom of the Seas, introduced in 2020, is a ship that has a lot to offer. With the capacity to host 4,635 passengers, it’s a vessel that ensures there’s something for everyone. We’re particularly impressed with the ship’s diverse dining options. From the complimentary Windjammer buffet to specialty restaurants like Chops Grill and Giovanni’s, your taste buds are in for a treat. For those looking for action, the ship offers a surf simulator, a rock climbing wall, and an ice skating rink. You can also indulge in the casino or relax in one of the many bars and lounges.
The recent updates to the ship have brought in restyled staterooms, public spaces, new waterslides, and a revamped pool area. However, some guests felt that the food quality could be improved in certain dining venues. Despite this, with its departure points from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for sailings throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas, Freedom of the Seas remains a top contender for those looking to explore the seas in style.
9. Liberty of the Seas
Overall Score: 9.2/10
Having been updated in 2021, Liberty of the Seas is a great choice for those who love water activities. We really liked the Perfect Storm aquapark, which is a hit among families, and Tidal Wave, the only boomerang slide at sea. For those who prefer a more laid-back experience, there are three pools to lounge by and a variety of bars and lounges to explore.
The ship’s dining options are diverse, ranging from the complimentary buffet to specialty restaurants. Entertainment is top-tier, with options like the Mystery Dinner Theater that offers a unique dining experience. Accommodations are varied, with the spacious Suites offering additional perks like concierge service.
However, some guests have noted surprise fees onboard, so it’s a good idea to double-check any additional charges. But overall, it’s a great option if you fancy good food, water activities, and beautiful views.
10. Rhapsody of the Seas Overall Score: 9.0/10
Overall Score: 9.0/10
Introduced in 1997, Rhapsody of the Seas underwent a significant refurbishment in 2022, ensuring that it remains contemporary and appealing to its guests. With a capacity to accommodate 2,416 passengers, this ship offers a more intimate cruising experience compared to its larger counterparts in the Royal Caribbean fleet. The ship boasts a range of dining options, from specialty restaurants to the main dining room, ensuring a culinary delight for every palate. The onboard entertainment, including live music and theater shows, keeps guests engaged throughout their journey.
However, being one of the older ships in the fleet, it might lack some of the flashy amenities found on the newer vessels. But for many, the ship’s charm lies in its classic design and cozier atmosphere, making it a favorite for those who prefer a more traditional cruising experience.
Best Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships Ranking Methodology
When it comes to ranking the best Royal Caribbean cruise ships, we don’t rely on hearsay or popular opinion. Our methodology is a blend of rigorous research, firsthand experiences, and feedback from seasoned travelers. Here’s a breakdown of how we determine our rankings:
- Guest Reviews & Feedback: We sift through thousands of online reviews and feedback from passengers. This gives us a clear picture of the actual onboard experience, from dining and entertainment to cabin comfort and service quality.
- Amenities & Features: Every ship offers a unique set of amenities. We evaluate the quality, variety, and uniqueness of each ship’s features, from pools and spas to entertainment zones and kids’ areas.
- Dining Options: The culinary experience on a cruise can make or break the journey. We assess the variety of dining options available, the quality of the food, and the overall dining ambiance.
- Ship Maintenance & Refurbishments: A ship’s age doesn’t always reflect its quality. We consider the frequency and extent of refurbishments, ensuring that older ships that have been well-maintained and updated are given their due credit.
- Cabin Comfort & Choices: From cozy interior cabins to expansive suites, we evaluate the range of stateroom options, their comfort levels, and the amenities provided.
- Value for Money: A great cruise experience doesn’t always have to break the bank. We weigh the offerings of each ship against its price points to determine which ships provide the best bang for your buck.
- Safety & Cleanliness: Especially in today’s world, the health and safety protocols of a ship are paramount. We factor in cleanliness standards and safety measures when ranking each vessel.
- Environmental Initiatives: We appreciate cruise lines that take steps to reduce their environmental footprint. Ships that employ sustainable practices or innovative green technologies earn extra points in our book.
- Itineraries & Destinations: The destinations a ship sails to can significantly influence a cruiser’s experience. We consider the variety, uniqueness, and appeal of the itineraries offered.
- Our Personal Experiences: Last but not least, our team’s firsthand experiences on these ships play a crucial role. We combine our personal insights with all the data gathered to provide a well-rounded perspective.
Choosing the Best Royal Caribbean Ships for You
Selecting the right Royal Caribbean ship for your next cruise can seem overwhelming given the variety in their fleet. However, the best choice often boils down to your personal preferences and the kind of experience you’re after. Here’s a guide to help you decide:
- Determine Your Travel Goals: Are you planning a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or a solo adventure? Pinpointing your main objective will help you choose ships tailored to your needs.
- Consider Ship Size: Royal Caribbean offers both large ships brimming with activities and smaller vessels for a cozier feel. If you want numerous entertainment options, go for a bigger ship. If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, a smaller ship might be better.
- Check Itineraries: Different ships have distinct routes. If there’s a specific destination you want to visit, ensure the ship you’re considering sails there.
- Dining Options: If food is a priority, look for ships with a wide range of dining choices or specialty restaurants that cater to your tastes.
- Budget Considerations: While all Royal Caribbean ships promise a top-notch experience, prices can vary. Set a budget and find ships that offer the best experiences within that range.
Remember, the best ship for you is the one that aligns most closely with your personal preferences and travel goals.
Which is the newest Royal Caribbean ship?
As of now, the newest Royal Caribbean ship that is operational is the Wonder of the Seas, which was introduced in 2022. It belongs to the Oasis class and offers a wide array of modern amenities and entertainment options.
Looking ahead, Icon of the Seas is set to be the next newest ship, with its maiden voyage planned for January 2024. Following that, Utopia of the Seas, another Oasis-class ship, is expected to launch later in 2024.
What is the best Royal Caribbean Ship for kids?
The Oasis of the Seas is a great option for kids. The ship offers a dedicated kids’ zone, interactive water parks, and a variety of entertainment options suitable for all age groups. From character meet-and-greets to teen lounges and Adventure Ocean kids’ programs, there’s something for every child to enjoy.
What is the best Royal Caribbean Ship for adults?
It depends on your taste. For those who appreciate a mix of relaxation and entertainment, Mariner of the Seas offers the Bamboo Room lounge and the Sky Pad bungee trampoline experience. If you’re leaning towards a classic cruising experience with a touch of modern amenities, Rhapsody of the Seas is a great choice, known for its tranquil Solarium and diverse dining options. Meanwhile, Odyssey of the Seas stands out for its high-tech attractions like the RipCord by iFly skydiving simulator and the SeaPlex, an indoor activity space.