While all-inclusive cruises sound great, especially if you have a large family, it isn’t always clear what may or may not be included. Some items are obviously included in your fare like your sleeping quarters and basic food and beverages. But many items incur an additional charge, which can make budgeting for a family cruise challenging!
So, to make that challenging task a little easier, here is what is included on a Royal Caribbean Cruise and some helpful tips for traveling on a budget.
What Is Included On A Royal Caribbean Cruise? Let’s Start With Meals!
Every Royal Caribbean vessel has main dining areas, including a more casual buffet-style eatery like the Windjammer Marketplace or the Windjammer Café. Of course, all those meals are included in your fare.
Fortunately, there are several other included casual dining options like Sorrento’s if your kids are craving pizza, including the Solarium Bistro for healthy Mediterranean-style food and Café Promenade for delicious coffee and dessert.
In addition, the soft serve ice creams are served free of charge on the pool deck and the main dining area. So that’s one less indulgence to budget for, as it all adds up if you have a large family.
Certain eateries that are not included in your fare may charge flat fees for meals ranging between $35 and $50 per person or more (drinks are not included). While other eateries have affordable a-la-carte dining options.
Pro-tip 1: if you want more variety, consider buying a discounted specialty dining package online before boarding. It will grant you access to extra-charge restaurants at a discounted rate. (Note: The Coastal Kitchen is reserved exclusively for suite guests and high-tier loyalty club members.)
Which Beverages Are Free
The following drinks are typically part of what is included on a Royal Caribbean Cruise: tap water, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and iced tea, including a selection of juices that are served in the main dining area for breakfasts, and complimentary coffees are served at the Café Promenade 24 hours per day.
Although certain beverages like bottled water, smoothies, freshly squeezed juices, specialty teas, and coffees, including soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, are charged extra.
A typical complaint is that the regular included buffet coffee is awful. So if you are used to drinking high-quality coffee, and want to stay on a budget, bring your own French press and coffee along.
Furthermore, if your family is traveling on a tight budget, bring your own bottled water, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages on board (in limited amounts). It’s far cheaper, and you can bring your favorite bottle of wine to the dining room if willing to pay a corkage fee.
Pro-tip 2: If the carry-on allowance for bottled water will not be enough for you, consider buying a water package. This results in a specified quantity of water being delivered to your stateroom at the beginning of the cruise for a relatively reasonable price. Unlike the regular beverage packages, everyone in your cabin shares. Plus, if you have extra, you can take them home.
If you’re considering a drinks package, you’ll want to read our post on Royal Caribbean beverage packages first.
Babysitting And Children’s Programs Included
One of the advantages of cruising on the Royal Caribbean is that they have complimentary programs for 3-12-year-olds, so you can simply sit back and relax (for a change).
The free Adventure Ocean program offers age-appropriate supervised activities for kids, like arts and crafts sessions and fun scavenger hunts in various dedicated play areas. Although this included service ends at 10 pm, there is a late-night program at an additional fee.
Royal Caribbean also offers short-term babysitting facilities for infants, but this incurs an additional charge.
The best part of going on any cruise is seeing a fantastic show; fortunately, some of the best shows are included in your fare.
So, your family can enjoy all the main theatre show performances, including the spectacular aqua-acrobatics and ice-skating shows, for free. And there are numerous great venues where you can listen to great live music for free on a romantic date night.
Guests can also enjoy free Broadway-caliber family shows and participate in fun-audience participation shows, which can be highly entertaining at times!
Pro-tip 3: some vessels have excellent free comedy clubs, although they are in great demand. Book your free tickets well in advance as they have limited capacity. Also, pay attention to whether certain shows are “adults-only.”
Free Recreational and Educational Activities
Several free activities are included in your fare to keep your family well entertained. Activities range between pool games, large-screen movies, and dance classes to trivia.
And your sporty kids can enjoy playing basketball, a round of minigolf, have fun on the rope’s courses, or test their agility with rock climbing for free on the sports deck.
There are also several free personal enrichment sessions, like cooking demos, photography, and computer lessons, and informative port lectures, including helpful shopping tips and tricks.
Although the following activities will incur an additional charge: arcade games, casino sessions, Bingo, the escape room, and the sky-diving simulator. In addition, certain more hands-on cooking sessions, computer lessons, and liquor and wine tastings are also not included in your fare.
Pro-tip 4: Some free activities nevertheless require reservations. Be sure to check your cruise planner online before your cruise to see if you can book in advance.
Royal Caribbean offers great cruise ship spa facilities. While spa treatments are not included, complimentary guest sauna and steam room amenities are generally available free of charge in most locker rooms.
All onboard thermals suite passes and spa treatments are charged an additional fee, including all salon treatments like teeth whitening sessions, acupuncture, and Medi-spa services.
Pro-tip 5: Charges for spa services are usually cheaper on port days. Also, the spa will frequently run promotions based on buying packages of services so check at the front desk on board.
The Fitness Centre
Like most cruise lines, Royal Caribbean provides a cruise ship gym with a variety of offerings. All passengers who meet the age requirements have free use of onboard fitness centers equipment like weights and cardio machines, including specific classes like stretch classes and abs workouts. Other freebies include the sports court and jogging track, so it’s easy to go for a morning run.
Other fitness classes like spinning, Pilates, and yoga, including TRX are not free, including body assessments and personal training sessions.
Pro-tip 6: The quality of class instructors can vary, just like on shore. So it might be helpful to ask fellow passengers whether a teacher’s class is worth paying for.
These Extras Require Additional Fees
Royal Caribbean ships now offer great Wi-Fi options, but none of them are included in the base fare.
Other potential costs include photographs, art auctions, shore excursions, medical services, dry cleaning, laundry services, gratuities, and transfers (except for guests who have bought air/sea packages).
Pro-tip 7: While you have a variety of options for doing laundry onboard, many of them can get expensive quickly, especially if you have a large family. Consider bringing your own travel laundry soap, which is ideal for washing small clothing items, especially if you have young kids. Note that many ships have a clothesline in the bathroom. Or, you can also pack your own.
Use the information and tips above to plan and budget for your cruise. While not everything is included in your cruise package, our pro tips should help you make the most of your vacation.