The cruise industry has totally exploded in Australia over the past few years, growing by a massive 21% and hitting the biggest growth of 222,378 passengers in 2016 (according to CLIA). And for good reason, who doesn’t want a stress-free holiday where you can take your family or partner to numerous destinations whilst only having to unpack your case once? They are an easy to budget, relaxing, but full of adventure holiday; which explains why guests are rapidly becoming repeat cruises after getting their first taste.
Royal Caribbean Cruises in Australia have a ship to suit all guests. From the smaller Radiance of the Seas which is full of character and charm to the largest ship in the Antipodean region, Ovation of the Seas which is super modern and high-tech.
Now, you can absolutely jump onto google and look up a hundred travel agents for advice, so why am I writing this article? Well, because I’ve worked for the cruise line for almost 6 years and can give you personal tips from both my own cruising experience on each of the ship classes, and because I know the corporate side of the business too – ie, the insider information!
Why Cruise Royal Caribbean – 5 key reasons
- Only unpack your suitcase once
- Great value, particularly for families (food, entertainment and activities all included)
- All ships depart out of Sydney Harbour – surely one of the most beautiful in the world!
- Accommodation to suit all requirements and family sizes
- 4 stunning ships to choose from, each with their own character and activities
- Simple drinks packages – you are in holiday mode after all and those daiquiris by the pool…
- Where else will you skydive, surf, skate, be taken up 90m above sea in a viewing capsule and enjoy bumper cars in the one place? No, not even kidding!
The Myths About Cruising
You’ve heard them all I’m sure and maybe you still believe some to be true…but let me stamp them out for you.
- Cruising is for old people
- I’ll get bored
- Too many people in one place
- I’ll get sea sick
- Cabins are small and cramped
So let’s take a look at this more closely. How many ‘old people’ have you seen on a rock climbing wall, ice-skating, or playing basketball recently? No, me either. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a cruise for every type of person, and absolutely there are plenty of ships out there targeting the older generation, but I can assure you, this isn’t the targeted demographic of Royal Caribbean.
As to being bored, as mentioned before, there are SO many activities that the biggest complaint was usually that guests didn’t have time to do everything they wanted! On top of the attractions, there is a full program of events happening every day, from salsa classes to animal towel creation classes (you have to see how cute these are!) and one of my favourites, the Sushi Making Class (complete with chef’s hat, gloves and bamboo mat, oh ok, and some Sake if we must..).
Now let’s look at the numbers thing. Sure, Ovation of the Seas is big and she can carry approximately 4,500 guests. Pick your jaw up, she’s not even their largest ship. However, the design of the ship means that guests dissipate in various areas and generally speaking, you won’t find crowds everywhere you look. Except on boarding day, when everyone heads to the centre of the ship feeling lost and it seems a little chaotic…give it a couple of hours when people figure out what they want to do and it will calm down.
Many people are susceptible to seasickness, even I can get queasy on a small boat or a ferry, but these ships are very different. Their pure size allows them to cut through the waves pretty smoothly, they don’t feel the swells that small boats do. Also, the ships have stabilizers which are basically like wings that come out of the side of the ship to minimize rocking movements. I’d also recommend choosing a stateroom which is low and central to reduce your feeling of movement.
Finally, let’s address the size of the stateroom. You can choose how much space you need! Sure, there are the interior staterooms which are probably not the most spacious when you have a family of 4 in them (and, only one bathroom people, let’s remember this is your holiday!), but let’s take a look at a balcony room which gives you extra square footage outside, or perhaps the 2 bedroom suite is more to your liking? Or whilst we’re at it, how about one of the Loft Suites with their mezzanine bedrooms?
Talk to me about Food
Because let’s face it, this is something cruising is known for, right? Food is also my favourite subject, so feel free to ask me any questions below if I haven’t covered something for you.
Royal Caribbean Cruises in Australia use local suppliers for their food, sourced by Dion Robinson who has worked in inventory on the ships for over a decade and therefore knows exactly what Aussies enjoy eating. Cue the Vegemite. Goodbye Starbucks.
There is so much complimentary food available, in the Windjammer buffets, the Main Dining Rooms, cafes, Sorrentos pizza parlour, and room service (continental breakfast). What I love is that almost every dietary requirement is catered for really well. I can be a bit of health freak who also needs to follow a FODMAP diet (mostly…!). I have no issue with this onboard, the buffet has plenty of options and in the Main Dining Room the wait staff can help to get a special meal created for you. As standard, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Low Fat and Sugar Free/Diabetic are catered for everywhere.
Specialty Restaurants are your other option if you don’t mind spending extra for a special occasion or change of scenery. Each ship has slightly different offerings, but to highlight some of my favourites:
Chops Grille – the best steaks I’ve ever had! Plus the scallops are amazing, and the goats cheese salad, and those sides… Yum! Consistently good on every one of the Royal ships.
Jamie’s Italian – the first time Jamie has had a restaurant on the high seas, and he does have to approve all the suppliers of the produce which is fun job for Dion considering Jamie is based in London…but this attention to detail is totally worth it when you experience the fabulous meals here (only available on Ovation of the Seas).
Izumi’s – I spoke about the Sushi Making class earlier, and this is where it’s held, but on top of your usual sushi cuisine, they do a great hot stone cooking option where you can cook your meat or fish on the table yourself. Now, I just realized that although I’ve dined in Izumi’s more times than I can remember, it has always been on Voyager of the Seas. Personally, I don’t like the decor of this restaurant on Radiance of the Seas so much, but on Voyager and Explorer the location is fabulous.
Giovanni’s – family style Italian restaurant where the food just keeps coming! Pace yourself, I always make the mistake of ordering too many entrees…by the time you’ve gorged on the delicious antipasto, and then the prawns or scallops and shared a gooey cheesy eggplant parmigiana before the pastas arrive…and you realize you’ve still not got to your main dish yet. Walking out with a food baby is a given.
What’s the difference between the ships?
There are currently 4 ships based in Australia. They are split between 3 ship ‘classes’.
Quantum Class – Ovation of the Seas (OV)
OV is the largest and newest ship in Australia. She entered service mid 2016 and was built specifically for the Chinese and Australian market, so she’s in Australia for our Summer season and then moves to China for our Winter. She mostly does NZ itineraries. The key attractions on OV are: Bumper Cars / Roller Skating / North Star / iFly by RipCord / Flowrider / Robotic Bar / 270 (amazing high tech area for one of the most mind-blowing shows you will ever see at sea) / 18 Specialty Restaurants
Voyager Class – Voyager and Explorer of the Seas (VY/EX)
VY has been in Australia for a few years now and has become a favourite with locals. This class is unique for having the only Ice Skating rinks at sea, utilized both for nail-biting shows and for guests to get on the ice themselves. EX is her identical sister, aside from a few differences in decor – as with every ship, they all have their own character. These ships primarily cruise the South Pacific and are a hit with families. The key attractions are: Rock Climbing Wall / Basketball Court / Mini Golf / Ice Skating / Flowrider / 5 Specialty Restaurants, including the American 50s Diner, Johnny Rockets.
Radiance Class – Radiance of the Seas (RD)
Beven and I were actually just on RD for NYE 2017/18 and we had a ball! She’s much smaller than the above ships, but she has so much character to her and a really lovely feel in the public areas. She tends to attract families with younger children due to the Adventure Ocean Beach Club (water slide for kids 12 and under) or for an older market who don’t want all the attractions of the larger ships. The key attractions are: Mini Golf / Rock Climbing Wall / Basketball Court / gorgeous indoor Solarium / dedicated Chef’s Table restaurant / self leveling billiard tables / Samba Grill – a churassco style Brazilian restaurant as well as Chops, Giovanni’s and Izumi’s.
All the ships have a well-equipped gym, pools, spas, movies by the pool, hairdressers and an impressive number of beauty treatments available.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do pack a travel adapter, the outlets are EU and US (EU is better voltage for hair straighteners)
Don’t pack a hairdryer or iron – it will be confiscated at the pier
Do bring 2 bottles of bubbles or wine to enjoy in your stateroom
Don’t pack them in your suitcase or you will have to go and confirm it’s not a spirit and have to drag your case back to your room yourself (I never learn…but please put in your hand luggage)
Do look into the beverage packages, drinks can get pricey if you buy individually but you don’t need to worry if you have the package already (these can be booked in advance online or at any bar when onboard)
Don’t complain when there are lots of kids onboard over holiday periods – this is a family friendly cruise, there will be kids (although usually they are in the complimentary kids clubs)
Do scan through your Cruise Compass each day so you can see what’s on and make sure you don’t miss anything
Don’t forget to pack trousers/long pants for ice-skating and socks for rock climbing
Do make sure you attend Beven Addinsall’s shows when he’s onboard! (and let us know here if you do!)
Let’s wrap this up
Clearly I could talk about Royal Caribbean Cruises in Australia for a very long time…but I don’t want to bore you! If you have a topic you want me to cover, please do let me know in the comments below, there’s not much I won’t be able to answer and it’s a topic I enjoy talking about!
Essentially, I recommend that you choose the right cruise line, the right ship and the right accommodation to suit your needs and to ensure you fully enjoy your cruise. I will be covering other cruise lines in AandAWorld as I travel with them more (thanks to Beven!) so please do check back to catch my new posts.
Thanks for reading and happy sailing!