14 Simple Cruising Tips with RCL

Ovation of the Seas Sydney
In port, Sydney for New Year's Eve Solos Cruise group

Like a short cut to some answers to your questions about cruising with Royal Caribbean?

Here’s some easy to remember tips to know before you go. You may not even know you want to know but when you do you’ll be glad for the heads up.  And as I’m all about cruising solo, there’s a few extra tips for singles cruising. Plus, I’ve thrown in some handy links to visit to help with cruise planning, and sources to find even more answers and cruising advice.


#1 CRUISE PLANNER

First step after booking - sign up to Cruise Planner early – you can keep an eye out on specials like savings on the drinks packages or internet packages.

What is Cruise Planner?
In short, it’s the online site with Royal Caribbean for booking cruise options before your cruise including; shore excursions, drinks package (if you want one), speciality dining restaurant reservations, purchasing wi-fi, photo bundles, and reserving on board entertainment and activities.  Plus, your cruise itinerary is all there – you’ll see your ports of call, and if you make bookings they will be logged in your calendar.

Link to the Cruise Planner

#2 A FIRST TIMERS BLOG

First time cruising? Or first time with Royal Caribbean?  RCI have a first timers blog.
You can use the search feature on the blog site to look up topics. Visit the Blog


#3 MISSED OUT ON A FUN ACTIVITY?


iFLY Ovation

That's me in iFLY - loved it, never laughed so hard

If you’re on a ship like Ovation of the Seas, iFLY and North Star can be in hot demand.  They are fun, iFLY was a personal favourite.  But don’t lose hope if you couldn’t get a booking for any of them.  There’s a few things to try: 

On a port day you may find passengers have booked these activities but drop out because they don’t make it back to the ship in time for their reservation, or they just change their mind.  Chance your luck and visit the sports desk for the activity and see if there’s any free spots.

Try Cruise Planner and check if you can book them before embarkation. Try as early out as 90 days prior. I can’t find the rule of when they are, or if they are released to book online before boarding. But I did some google searches and found that some people have been able to book them in Cruise Planner before boarding, and some not.


#4 MARK YOUR DIARY TO CHECK-IN ON LINE

Cruise Planner and online cruise check in are two different things. Cruise planner is accessible at any time after booking, but checking in for your cruise online doesn’t open until 90 days before your cruise. It is highly recommended to check in online. It will save a lot of time at the pier before you embark on your cruise.
Visit this link for FAQ’s about Online Check In


#5 JOIN CRUISE CIRCLE FOR SOLOS

Cruising solo? Don’t forget to check out the options for joining cruise groups just for solos. Find the cruise groups for solos with Encounter Travel, and find out more by visiting the Singles Cruise page of our website. And, if you’re on Facebook, JOIN OUR GROUP

NYE Singles Cruise 2016


# 6 WHAT TIME CAN I BOARD ON DAY 1?

Embarkation times on day 1 from Sydney has allocated times based on decks.   You may want to know this when making travel plans such as booking flights to arrive to the departure city. The times are staggered from highest to lowest decks.  However, the ship doesn’t issue this to passengers until documents are generated but you can use this link below to find the expected staggered check in times for the upcoming season for Sailings from Australia.

View Staggered Check in Times, Australian Cruises.

You can embark after your allocated time, but they advise not before.  If you arrive early, you can still off load your checked luggage to the baggage handlers at the pier, then come back for your allocated check in time. Finally, all passengers must be on board no later than 90 minutes prior to the sailing time.

# 7 BYO 2 BOTTLES OF WINE

A small perk! Royal Caribbean allow passengers to bring on board 2 standard bottles (up to 750ml each) of wine per stateroom.  If you do, you must carry then on as hand luggage – don’t pack them in your checked luggage. Find out more at this link.

#8 WINE BY THE GLASS?
If you’re cruising solo and not on a drinks package you may think you have to stick with wine by the glass at dinner.  If the bottle works out better value than by the glass, you can purchase the wine bottle and your waiter.

#9 EARNING MEMBERSHIP POINTS

After your first cruise, RCI enrol you in their loyalty program Crown and Anchor Society.

TIPS IF YOU'RE CRUISING SOLO
You’ll earn double the points if you take a cabin for one (not sharing). Note: may not qualify if you’ve taken a studio cabin.

Membership points are earned on the basis of two people per cabin. So, if you took the cabin to yourself, you’ve paid the same as 2 people in the cabin.  There’s a sting for that supplement but the upside is that you earn double the points compared to someone sharing a cabin.  However, from experience, the ship does not always allocate the double points.  After you’ve cruised, check your points and if you’re not sure, email Crown and Anchor and get them to check you’ve had the correct points allocated for your booking.
More info about Crown and Anchor


#10 LUNCH AT SEA
For days at sea, when there’s no port of call, the ship’s main dining room will be open. It’s different when calling to a port, these are not open, so it’s a nice option on sea days of an a la carte meal in the main dining room.  Usually Royal Caribbean will also schedule some early lunches on these days for singles cruising.  Another way to meet up with others cruising solo. You can check your Cruise Compass daily news for these schedules. 

#11 EXTRA HUNGRY?
Don’t hold back, you can have 2 main courses if you’re extra hungry. Or for some, ordering two entrees rather than an entrée and a main. Or 2 desserts! No one has to go for the standard entrée, main and dessert if don’t want to. 

#12 SEA SICK WORRIES?
Suffer sea sickness or think you’re going to get sea sick? The ship dispenses sea sick pills at no cost. Visit the ship’s medical centre, on the lower deck, and grab the pills from a dispensary unit.  They’re free.  And, if you’re prone to sea sickness and don’t wish to wait and see, visit on embarkation day and pop the bill before leaving port. I get sea sick and it’s not nice and these pills save the day!


#13 INTERNET SAVINGS
Wi-fi is an extra charge. And although prices have come down considerably over the years, it can still dig a whole in your pocket, especially on a longer cruise.

So you want internet but not all the time – many ports of call will have a restaurant with wi-fi. Or otherwise, wait until later in the cruise and purchase a wi fi package or just for a day. You don’t have to have the package for the entire cruise. And, when I’ve been on board, at the end of the cruise there were wi fi specials for the last few days.

#14 YOU’VE ALREADY PAID TIPS
Don’t be caught out. Unless you want to add an extra tip, the drinks you purchase already have a tip included in the price. Of course, you may frequent the same bar with the same friendly attendant and be happy to tip extra. 

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ENQUIRIES

For enquiries, call from Australia T:  1300 653 692 or visit our Contact Us page on our website.
From outside Australia +61 2 9267 9979


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About the author

Justine Waddington

Justine Waddington is the founder and director of Encounter Travel, a company that creates holiday groups exclusively for solo travellers. As a solo traveller with 57 countries under her belt and 12 years of leading travel groups, Justine is in the unique position of being able to offer tips and advice from the perspective of an experienced solo traveller and also that of a travel agent.

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