If you’re considering a cruise vacation with Royal Caribbean, you have no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a ship to sail on. There are over two dozen ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, all offering different amenities, activities, and accommodations.
That said, it can feel overwhelming trying to find the right ship to suit your needs.
To help you narrow down your options, check out our guide below to the best Royal Caribbean ships.
What is The Best Ship in the Royal Caribbean Fleet?
A small disclaimer before we begin: the answer to the question above has a lot to do with personal preference, budget, and who you’re traveling with. In other words, it’s a subjective choice based on various factors that will differ from one person to the next – a lot like picking the best film or restaurant.
What follows is, therefore, a breakdown of what each Royal Caribbean cruise ship has to offer so that you can make an informed decision about choosing the best ship for your specific travel needs.
Accommodations, Activities, and Amenities
Before we can introduce you to the ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, we first need to establish what you are looking for in terms of the accommodations, activities, and amenities onboard the ship.
There are four basic cabin categories on Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships: interior, oceanview, balcony, and suite. Interior (windowless) cabins are usually the most affordable, while an oceanview room is the next step up with a porthole or window. Balcony rooms are generally thought to be the most value for money, whereas suites are the most expensive and offer the most perks.
One thing to note is that the exact size and layout of each cabin varies from one ship to the next and that some ships offer more extravagant rooms than others.
Additionally, the type of cabin you choose is ultimately a question of price, but the newer and larger cruise ships tend to offer the most spacious and high-end accommodations.
One of the things that sets Royal Caribbean ships apart from other cruise liners is the onboard activities that each vessel has to offer. These range from lounging beside one of the resort-style pools and indulging in spa treatments to dining at one of the many specialty restaurants or conquering the rock climbing wall.
If you’re looking to participate in a specific activity during your cruise, be sure to check whether it is offered by your particular ship first so you can plan your trip accordingly.
Each Royal Caribbean cruise ship features a different array of amenities, with some vessels offering more luxuries than others. It, therefore, makes sense for you to find out which ones are offered on each ship (as well as which ones you can afford) in order to choose the right ship for you.
The Best Royal Caribbean Ships According to Ship Class
Freedom Class ships are some of the largest and most versatile vessels in the Royal Caribbean fleet, offering ample things to do onboard. The ships have also been renovated in recent years to include waterslides and other new features.
All three ships in the Freedom Class feature a Splashaway Bay aquapark for kids, while Independence and Freedom of the Seas include Perfect Storm waterslides. Liberty of the Seas has her own set of waterslides and is the only ship to feature a boomerang slide.
Out of all the Freedom Class ships, Independence of the Seas is the only one that offers the Sky Pad virtual reality bungee jump trampoline experience.
In terms of dining options, Freedom of the Seas introduced the first Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen in the fleet, a specialty restaurant that offers made-to-order pizzas, pastas, and a wide selection of wines and limoncellos. Independence of the Seas has Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, the Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, and Fish & Chips, a poolside eatery that serves quintessentially British seaside treats.
Each of the three ships also offers a range of live entertainment and performances, such as Studio B ice skating shows. Liberty of the Seas has a Saturday Night Fever Broadway Show, whereas Grease is featured on Independence of the Seas.
Where they sail
Freedom of the Seas offers short three- to four-night cruises from its homeport in Miami.
Liberty of the Seas offers seven-night cruises sailing from Galveston, Texas to the Western Caribbean.
Independence of the Seas embarks from Port Canaveral and offers three- to four-night cruises to the Caribbean.
If you’re looking to sail on one of the world’s largest cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class vessels take the cake.
There are five Oasis Class ships – Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Harmony of the Seas – with a sixth one planning to launch in 2024.
There are plenty of things to keep you occupied on board an Oasis Class ship, with all five vessels boasting two FlowRider surf simulators; waterslides, including the Ultimate Abyss slide; rock climbing; mini-golf; specialty and complimentary restaurants; clubs; a zip line and more.
Another unique aspect of the Oasis Class ships is their neighborhoods. Each ship has seven (except Wonder of the Seas, which has eight), including the seaside-inspired Boardwalk and outdoor Central Park.
Oasis Class Ships also offer some of the very best live entertainment in the entire fleet, with three theaters featuring a variety of performances during every cruise. You can catch a Broadway show (such as Hairspray or Mamma Mia), be awe-struck by an AquaTheater performance, or experience the magic of an ice skating show at Studio B.
Oasis Class ships are also a haven for foodies, offering more dining options than any other class of Royal Caribbean ship. Onboard restaurants include Portside BBQ, Chops Steakhouse, Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, and many more.
Where they sail
Most Oasis Class ships sail around the Bahamas or the Caribbean, although you can occasionally find cruises to Europe and the Mediterranean during the summer.
Quantum Class ships are the newest vessels added to the Royal Caribbean fleet and boast some of the most modern and technologically-advanced features of any Royal Caribbean ship.
They are also jam-packed with exciting activities like bumper cars, rock climbing, and laser tag. Then there is the North Star Observation Capsule, the tallest viewing deck on any cruise ship, that lifts you more than 300 feet into the air, offering spectacular 360-degree views of the ocean below.
Each of the Quantum Class ships also has a large circular area at the rear of the ship that not only offers a panoramic view of the sea but also features floor-to-ceiling screens with Roboscreen technology.
For those looking for some retail therapy while onboard, the Royal Esplanade is situated in the middle of the ship, while the Music Hall is perfect for taking in a live music performance or dancing the night away.
Where they sail
Both Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas offer cruises to Alaska during the summer and then spend the other half of the year sailing around Australia.
Anthem of the Seas typically sets sail from Bayonne, New Jersey, and travels to places in the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Canada, and New England. She has also started offering cruises from Southampton, England during the summer, making stops in the Mediterranean, Canary Islands, and Northern Europe.
The world’s first Quantum Ultra Class cruise ship, Spectrum of the Seas, spends most of her time sailing around Asia.
Odyssey of the Seas offers cruises to the Caribbean from Florida in the winter and cruises in Europe and the Mediterranean during the summer.
A smaller class of Royal Caribbean ships; Radiance Class vessels ooze sophistication and elegance while offering some of the most varied itineraries of all the Royal Caribbean ships.
While they may be smaller than the ships we’ve mentioned so far, Radiance Class ships are by no means lacking in amenities. Onboard you will find a three-story theater and an outdoor movie screen, plus plenty of bars, clubs, and restaurants.
Royal Caribbean’s Radiance Class ships are quite popular among veteran cruisers due to their laid-back atmosphere and lack of adrenaline-pumping activities on deck.
Where they sail
Radiance Class ships were designed to sail around the world, making them a great choice for cruisers driven by destination rather than onboard amenities.
Radiance of the Seas offers some jaw-dropping cruises (one-way) to Alaska during the summer, and then spends the rest of the year sailing near Australia in the South Pacific.
Serenade of the Seas offers a similar itinerary, splitting her time between Australia and Alaska.
Jewel of the Seas spends her summers sailing from Amsterdam to Northern Europe, while also offering cruises from Galveston or Miami to the Caribbean.
Brilliance of the Seas offers short sailings from Tampa to the Caribbean in the winter, as well as cruises from Miami and Boston.
Similar to the Radiance Class, Royal Caribbean’s Vision Class is a unique class of ship that sails to some of the most exotic and remote destinations in the world due to their reduced size.
They also offer a more personalized experience as a result of their limited carrying capacity, making them popular among repeat cruisers who adore their friendly and caring staff.
Despite its more compact ships, Vision Class passengers will still find plenty of onboard amenities, including a lavish pool deck with a poolside movie screen, a rock climbing wall, specialty dining, and a grand Atrium.
Where they sail
Vision of the Seas sets sail from Fort Lauderdale in the winter, and Barcelona in the summer.
Enchantment of the Seas offers year-round cruises from Baltimore.
Grandeur of the Seas embarks from Galveston and Miami to the Caribbean.
With homeports in Tampa and Venice/Ravenna, Italy, Rhapsody of the Seas sails to the Greek Isles and Western Caribbean.
Often regarded as the best value for money, Royal Caribbean’s Voyager Class ships are an excellent option for anyone cruising for the first time and those looking for a more affordable ship to sail on. Rest assured, however, that these are still large vessels that offer all the big-ship amenities but at a fraction of the price of some of the other mega-ships on this list.
Voyager Class ships are also among the most multifaceted in the Royal Caribbean fleet, which is partly a result of the Royal Amplification process that added a whole host of new features to these vessels.
The two ships that underwent the biggest changes were Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas. Sky Pad and Perfect Storm waterslides were added to Mariner of the Seas, while Navigator of the Seas now boasts the industry’s only head-first mat racer waterslide, Riptide, and the longest waterslide at sea, the Blaster aqua coaster. Both vessels also now include Royal Escape Room: The Observatorium and Battle for Planet Z.
More dining options have also been added to both ships, including specialty restaurants such as Hooked Seafood on Navigator and Hibachi on Mariner. In addition, both ships feature Bamboo Room, a Polynesian-themed bar, as well as a Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade.
All the other ships in Royal Caribbean’s Voyager Class have their own fair share of onboard amenities, including an ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, FlowRider surf simulator, mini-golf, and live shows every evening.
Where they sail
Mariner of the Seas mainly sails from Port Canaveral to the Caribbean, offering cruises of various lengths.
Sailing from her homeport in Los Angeles, Navigator of the Seas offers 7-night cruises in the Mexican Riviera plus shorter cruises to Ensenada, Mexico.
All the other ships in the Voyager Class sail a bit farther afield and offer cruises to destinations across the globe.
Adventure of the Seas offers cruises from Bayonne and Galveston in the winter and spends the other half of the year sailing from Stockholm or Copenhagen.
Explorer of the Seas also divides her time between Europe and North America, sailing from Miami or Galveston in the winter and Rome in the summer.
Depending on the time of year, you can find Voyager of the Seas sailing around Australia or China.
How to Choose the Best Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship For You
The easiest way to determine which is the best Royal Caribbean cruise ship for your needs is to find out what each ship offers, and then compare that to your budget.
It also helps to make a list of what you want to get out of the cruise. For example, if your idea of a good time is basking in the sun by the pool and exploring the destinations you visit, then a smaller ship like those in Royal Caribbean’s Radiance Class will do. Conversely, if you want a never-ending array of activities onboard, then one of the larger ships in the Quantum or Oasis Class might be more your speed.
The bottom line when choosing a Royal Caribbean ship to sail on is to keep in mind what is important to you and what you can afford.
A Summary of The Best Royal Caribbean Ships
To conclude this article on the best Royal Caribbean ships, here is a quick summary of which vessels in the fleet are best for fulfilling certain cruise requirements:
- Best ship for those on a budget: Navigator of the Seas or Mariner of the Seas.
- Best Ship for families and first-time cruisers: Odyssey of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, or Oasis of the Seas.
- Best value for money: Liberty of the Seas or Freedom of the Seas.
- Best ship if you’re unfazed about onboard activities: Grandeur of the Seas or Brilliance of the Seas.