How to Choose the BEST Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Are you ready to cruise?  Royal Caribbean boasts over two dozen cruise ships that will take you to warm island destinations, charming European ports, vacation hotspots of Hawaii and more!  Choosing between the different classes of ships (they have 7!) can be overwhelming.  We’ve summarized the ships by class and shared some of the key features that make each class unique. 

Questions to Consider When Selecting a Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Before we jump into our review, we suggest you ask yourself a few questions to think about while you review.  Are you eager to hop on the newest and biggest ship?  Looking for something a little more intimate? Will you bring young children? Planning a quieter getaway with just adults? Is location important, or are you open to new exploring new destinations for the right ship? If the ship is what is important, read on below, as we recap the Royal Caribbean Cruise fleet and what makes them unique.   

Icon Class by Royal Caribbean

If you’re looking for the biggest, boldest, and most exciting, you won’t want to miss the boat (pun intended) on an Icon Class Ship.  When Icon of the Seas launches in January of 2024, she will be the largest cruise ship in the world, with a wide array of activities, dining, and amenities.  The Icon class will be the first ships powered by LNG (Liquified Natural Gas), a major step that Royal Caribbean has committed to increase the sustainability of cruising.   These ships will also include Royal Caribbean’s first onboard waterpark and indoor AquaDome space. 

Similar to the Oasis Class, Icon Class ships will be divided into Neighborhoods. 

  • AquaDome – home to the indoor AquaTheater and lounge space 
  • Central Park – an outdoor area with shops and restaurants 
  • Chill Island – the pool deck on Icon 
  • Thrill Island – home to the Category 6 waterpark and sports activities 
  • Surfside – family-friendly area with a pool, Spashway Bay and dining aimed at kids 
  • The Hideaway – located at the rear of the ship, this neighborhood houses a pool, bar, whirlpools, and seating areas 
  • Suite Neighborhood – a private neighborhood for suite guests with a pool, sun deck, and two dining venues 
  • Royal Promenade – the main indoor thoroughfare with retail shops, lounges, and restaurants 

With a swim-up pool, Category 6 waterpark and the AquaDome neighborhood, there are enough water activities alone to keep you busy for your whole cruise. When you want a little peace and quiet, wander up to Cloud 17, an adults-only retreat overlooking the ocean. 


Oasis Class by Royal Caribbean

If you want everything on one ship, with the latest features, activities, and fabulous dining, the Oasis Class of ships is for you.  From water slides to aqua parks to surf simulators and much more, there are plenty of spots to enjoy the water. For the drier times, head to the Ultimate Abyss, a 10-story dry slide, challenge a rock-climbing wall or zip line high over the deck below.  For the little ones, Oasis Class ships (and ALL ships in the fleet) feature the award-winning Royal Caribbean supervised kids club. There are options for everyone from 6 months to age 17, with spaces divided by age groups.    

Royal Caribbean is proud to always be pushing the envelope and adding ships to their fleet, but at the time of this blog, there were 5 Oasis Class Ships in the water, and another on the way.  Allure, Harmony, Oasis, Symphony, and Wonder are all sailing various destinations across the globe.  Utopia is slated to hit the water in 2024 launching a fantastic new weekend getaway product that in our minds will make cruising more often, even easier, and more exciting.  What better way is there to spend a long weekend than at sea? 

Quantum Class by Royal Caribbean

The Quantum Class ships, Quantum, Anthem and Ovation of the Seas were engineered with a combination of high-tech and tried-and-true family vacation experiences.  Leading the pack of these innovative experiences is North Star, an extendable arm that extends 300 feet above sea level with sweeping views of the landscape.  It is no wonder that Quantum Class ships spend so much time in Alaska!  When you’re not taking in the views, you can grab a cocktail from Bionic Bar, staffed only by the drink slinging robot, head over to SeaPlex the indoor sports center, or catch a show at Two70.   

For the foodies at heart, Quantum Class continues to uphold Royal Caribbean’s reputation of best-in-class dining.  One of the things we love most about this line is the quality of the main dining room food across the fleet and these ships are no different.  If you’re looking for specialty dining, you can find fleet-wide favorites like Izumi Teppanyaki or Chops Grill.  Quantum Class ships also feature a spot called Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine.  This restaurant definitely lives up to its name.  Choose your dishes based on five nature elements – Earth, Sea, Fire, Ice and Sun.  PRO TIP – as you walk into Wonderland, brush the menu at the entrance of the restaurant with a paintbrush dipped in water to see each dish appear on the page!  

Freedom Class by Royal Caribbean

Freedom Class ships were designed for families who are looking for more activities on board.  Today, these often boast lower pricing, as these ships are no longer the newest and biggest in the fleet, but they definitely offer up the adventures.  A bit smaller than their Quantum, Oasis and Icon class counterparts, these ships can also be a bit less intimidating when it comes to ship size and number of guests.   

From the sports court to the ice rink to the rock-climbing wall, the Liberty, Independence, and Freedom of the Seas provide enough entertainment and activities for the whole family.  Try the miniature golf course or the FlowRider surf simulator, water slide, and more.  Don’t forget to drop by the ice-skating rink for complimentary skating during specified hours, and impressive ice shows! Traveling without the kids, head to Solarium, the adults only spot complete with pools, waterslides and of course a bar.   

There is an abundance of dining options aboard Freedom Class ships.  All have Chops Grille, Johnny Rockets, and Giovanni’s Table specialty restaurants. Independence of the Seas offers an expanded version of Playmakers sports Bar, and Liberty of the Seas is the only ship in its class with the Mexican restaurant Sabor. 

Voyager Class by Royal Caribbean

When the Voyager Class ships debuted in 1999, they included features that are common on today’s newer and larger ships.  Activities like mini golf, the Royal Promenade, ice skating, and more all came to life on the Voyager Class ships. Today 5 ships make up this class, Voyager, Explorer, Adventure, Navigator and Mariner of the Seas.   

Don’t let the age of these ships fool you.  Royal Caribbean is still investing in each ship, many of which have gone through “Royal Amplification” adding new restaurants, new activities, new entertainment and more. Each Voyager class ship has a capacity of at least 3,800 guests and are just over 1,000 feet long with plenty of things to do!  Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas even have a Puzzle Break Center, which is a timed puzzle challenge to try and break out of the escape room in time. The pool deck on each Voyager Class ship has multiple Jacuzzis and two side-by-side main pools, with a bar in the main pool area.   

Radiance Class by Royal Caribbean

The Radiance Class ships are on the smaller side and offer a more traditional cruising experience.  The elegance and architecture are what brings out the charm. Don’t let the smaller size fool you.  There is still plenty to do.  

One of the biggest differences between Radiance Class ships and other classes is Radiance ships have a Centrum instead of a Royal Promenade or Royal Esplanade.  The Centrum is a large, open area within the middle of the ship. Elevators run up the Centrum, and shops, bars, cafés, and guest services are located on the decks surrounding the elevators. 

Radiance ships were built with over three acres of glass, so there is always a great view of the ocean. The elevators are also made of glass, allowing ocean views as you ascend and descend the ship. The best way to get amazing views is on the rotating bar located in the nightclub area of the Viking Crown Lounge. The circular bar rotates 360 degrees, so guests have a spectacular view no matter where they sit. 

Vision Class by Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean’s Vision Class ships may be the smallest in the fleet, but they still offer exciting itineraries, fine dining, and exciting activities and entertainment. These ships offer a more traditional cruise and guests find the no-frills atmosphere relaxing. 

Vision Class ships are designed for travelers who want to explore more unique itineraries and who want to sit by the pool and enjoy live music in a lounge at night. You will not find waterslides, zip lines, bumper cars on these ships. 

These ships include some fantastic destinations that tend to be port intensive, and you may find yourself spending more time in each port and using the ship to relax after a busy day. 

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