Royal Caribbean International is well known for its massive, innovative ships filled with state-of-the-art exciting attractions, from bionic bartenders and surfing simulators to ice rinks, rock climbing walls, open structure promenades, towering slides, zip lines, bumper cars, and so much more. But while the biggest ships dominate headlines, brochures, and commercials with all their glitz and glamor, what should passengers expect on smaller ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet?
Defining Big and Small
Big and small are relative distinctions when it comes to comparing cruise ships, and an individual ship’s gross tonnage does not necessarily mean it will feel “big” or “small” onboard. Considering passenger capacity is another way to determine the size of a cruise ship, and in general, ships that accommodate greater numbers of passengers are larger and more elaborate than ships with smaller passenger manifests.
Whether you consider gross tonnage, passenger capacity, overall length, or several other metrics, however, at least four of the 10 largest cruise ships in the world are Royal Caribbean ships, and even larger ships are already on order or under construction for the fleet. Yet not all Royal Caribbean ships are massive behemoths, and their smaller vessels include:
- Empress of the Seas – 48,563 gross tons, 1,840 passenger capacity
- Majesty of the Seas – 74,007 gross tons, 2,350 passenger capacity
- Vision-class ships (Grandeur of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, and Vision of the Seas) – 73,800-82,900 gross tons, 2,400-2,700 passenger capacities
- Radiance-class ships (Radiance of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, and Jewel of the Seas) – 90,090 gross tons, 2,100 passenger capacities
Compare those smaller ships to the largest of the Royal Caribbean fleet, the Oasis-class ships – Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, and Symphony of the Seas – which each boast 225,282-228,081 gross tons and can serve 6,360-6,687 passengers at full capacity – and it’s easy to tell which ships are biggest and smallest.
Sailing on a Small Royal Caribbean Ship
It is no surprise that the largest ships in any cruise ship fleet, including Royal Caribbean, are home to the newest, most innovative features and have a greater number of dining options, entertainment venues, and activity choices. That does not mean, however, that smaller ships are at all lacking or deliver a less enjoyable cruise vacation experience.
While a smaller Royal Caribbean ship may initially be disappointing if a guest has been enthralled with advertisements and is expecting all the bells and whistles of the latest media commercials, even the smallest ships in the fleet offer plenty of fun, relaxation, and enjoyment.
Food and Drink
All the Royal Caribbean International ships, from its smallest to largest, are home an array of dining options including the diverse Windjammer Marketplace buffet, the full-service main dining rooms, and an extensive room service menu.
The more luxurious Chops Grille steakhouse is also featured on most of the smaller Royal Caribbean ships, and more casual options such as Sorrento’s pizzeria, coffee bars, and soft-serve ice cream are also widely available. Different bars featuring specialty drinks and exclusive wine lists are also found across the fleet, regardless of ship size, allowing all passenger to raise a glass and make a toast to a fabulous cruise.
The size of the ship does not impact the quality of the entertainment on Royal Caribbean cruises, and each ship features a live house band or show orchestra to provide exquisite musical accompaniment to shows and premiere performances.
Live DJs also spin tunes for dance parties and smaller venues, including energetic, interactive game shows such as the line’s insanely popular Crazy Quest. Other onboard activities on each ship, large or small, include themed trivia contests, dance lessons, informative lectures, movies, and more.
The Vitality Spa is a feature of all Royal Caribbean ships, and while smaller ships may have fewer treatment rooms and appointment availabilities, they still offer world-class pampering options for every passenger.
Different types and lengths of massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, hair styling, acupuncture treatments, and medi-spa options such as Ionithermie wraps, smile-whitening, and more are available onboard. Each ship also has a fitness center offering the latest aerobic equipment, weight machines, and different fitness and wellness classes.
While smaller Royal Caribbean ships may not have every feature of the larger vessels, each ship does have at least some of the amazing options available for passengers to enjoy. Even the smallest ships in the fleet have pools and multiple whirlpools, as well as children’s play areas.
Casinos, arcades, karaoke bars, and rock climbing walls are present on all Royal Caribbean ships, and passengers can also find more casual onboard fun such as ping pong tables, shuffleboard courts, and quiet spaces like libraries and card rooms to explore and enjoy.
Ship size has no impact on the quality of service to be found across the Royal Caribbean fleet, and all staff members – bartenders, stewards, wait staff, chefs, hostesses, entertainers, etc. – are trained to exacting standards to provide superior service for all guests on all ships.
Guest services staff members are on hand 24/7 to address any problems or concerns, and security staff members are available in case of disturbances. In fact, many cruise staff members on smaller ships pride themselves on providing the best service of all, knowing that their ships may not always make the best impression on passengers, but their service can turn any cruise into an outstanding experience.
The smallest Royal Caribbean cruise ships still sail to some of the largest, most popular destinations throughout the world with voyages ranging from 3-15 nights. Depending on the ship and season, smaller ships can be found at such amazing ports as the Bahamas, Cozumel, Key West, St. Lucia, Costa Maya, Belize, Honduras, Panama, Grand Cayman, St. Thomas, Bermuda, Barbados, New England, Canada, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Croatia, and Turkey.
The fleet’s smaller vessels also regularly call at Cococay, the cruise line’s private island in the Bahamas, featuring an amazing water park, beautiful beaches, and amazing one-of-a-kind attractions exclusively for Royal Caribbean passengers to enjoy.
Should You Sail on a Large or Small Ship?
Ultimately, sailing on a large or small ship is a personal preference every cruise traveler should explore. Royal Caribbean International offers amazing options on ships of every size, and while larger ships may be more bustling with exotic features, smaller ships often offer a more intimate, cozy experience that still excels as a relaxing and memorable cruise vacation.