Royal Caribbean is one of the largest family-friendly cruise lines offering a variety of vacations to destinations across the globe. Royal Caribbean’s fleet currently includes 25 cruise ships which vary greatly in terms of size and amenities. If you are considering a cruise with the brand, we have put together this comprehensive guide to Royal Caribbean ship classes to help you decide which ship is the right fit for your next family vacation.
Guide to Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Classes
Understanding Cruise Ship Classes
Cruise lines are large companies that manage a fleet of ships. Some of the world’s largest cruise lines have dozens of ships.
Each cruise line has its own “style”. However, even within a brand, there are different dining options, entertainment options, and onboard amenities between ships. It would take you hours to research each ship individually. Not to mention, Royal Caribbean is just one of over 60 international cruise lines.
Hence, it’s important to note that each cruise line offers different groups of ships. These “classes” of cruise ships are of similar size and design. Further, they often feature similar amenities and venues.
While there might be slight differences between ships within a class, these sister ships are largely identical.
Across all of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship classes, you will find a mix of casual dining options, a traditional main dining room, a main theater, and several lounges and bars for nightlife and entertainment. There are also other standard cruise amenities like a gym, spa, onboard shopping, and a casino.
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The good news is that many of these family-friendly activities, dining, and entertainment are included in the Royal Caribbean cruise fare.
Royal Caribbean also offers a standard level of service and predictable cabin categories across all cruise ship classes.
Quantum Ultra Class
The newest of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship classes is the Quantum Ultra Class. This sub-class of the previous Quantum Class offers many of the same features of its predecessors. It also has a few amenities of other recently amplified ships in the fleet and some new additions all of her own.
The first ship in the Quantum Ultra class to debut was Spectrum of the Seas. This nearly 170K gross ton ship was built specifically for the Chinese market and set sail in 2019. Spectrum of the Seas accommodates just under 4,300 guests.
Odyssey of the Seas is the second ship in this class. Given the impacts of COVID-19, this new ship’s debut has been delayed from November 2020 until this spring.
When Odyssey of the Seas sets sail, she will feature two familiar favorites from the Quantum Class ships, the RipCord by iFLY sky diving simulator and the North Star aerial gondola. Thrill-seekers will be happy that Odyssey will also have the Sky Pad which debuted on the amplified Mariner of the Seas.
This ship will be home to the SeaPlex as well, a revolutionary indoor space with bumper cars and roller skating.
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Odyssey of the Seas will feature a multi-level resort style pool deck similar to other newly amplified ships. This area includes two pools, plenty of comfy lounge furniture, and the popular Lime and Coconut Bar. Further, two signature Quantum Class entertainment venues Two70 and the Music Hall will be found on this new ship.
In addition to some of the Royal Caribbean dining staples, Odyssey of the Seas will feature a brand-new Teppanyaki restaurant and the re-imagined Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen.
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Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class of ships ushered in a new innovative era of cruising when its flagship Quantum of the Seas debuted in 2014. Additional ships in this Royal Caribbean cruise ship class include Anthem of the Seas (2015) and Ovation of the Seas (2016).
The Quantum Class of ships is approximately 169K gross tons and accommodates just under 4,200 passengers. With many of the signature features located indoors, the Quantum Class is the perfect pick for cold weather cruises.
Quantum of the Seas was the first ship in the fleet to debut several new features and amenities. One of these additions was the Bionic Bar. With specialty drinks ordered from an iPad, your cocktails come alive from two automated robots. Yes, that’s right, robotic bartenders!
As mentioned above, Quantum Class ships were the first to introduce the high flying feats, North Star and Ripcord by iFLY, as well as the interactive SeaPlex. These thrilling attractions did replace popular Royal Caribbean staples like the Studio B ice rink.
Though, they really gave the brand an edge against its competitors for families of all ages.
In terms of entertainment venues, Royal Caribbean hit a homerun with the addition of Two70 and the Music Hall. Two70 is a digitally enhanced venue with transformative HD vistarama screens and roboscreens that become part of the action during signature production shows.
Additionally, the Music Hall is a first of its kind concert venue at sea with tribute bands.
When it comes to dining, the Quantum Class did not disappoint either. Besides your traditional main dining room, this class of ships offers plenty of specialty dining options, including Wonderland. This Alice in Wonderland inspired restaurant features an eclectic menu and an out-of-this-world dining experience.
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Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class of ships are really in a league all of their own, when it comes to size and amenities. The Oasis Class of ships was the largest when its flagship Oasis of the Seas debuted in 2009.
And it still is!
Additional ships in this Royal Caribbean cruise ship class include Allure of the Seas (2010), Harmony of the Seas (2016), Symphony of the Seas (2018), and Wonder of the Seas (arriving in Shanghai 2022). These ships tip the scale at 226-228K gross tons, carrying a whopping 5,400-5,500 passengers.
These world record breaking vessels offer plenty of onboard activities for all types of cruisers. In fact, they are so large they even have their own neighborhoods.
Central Park is an open-air space nestled in the middle of the ship. This area is a beautifully designed greenspace with some of the best specialty restaurants. It also provides a romantic atmosphere for al fresco dining and bars.
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The Boardwalk is an outdoor neighborhood located aft on the ship. This colorful and lively area is reminiscent of a seaside pier. The Aqua Theater is the main feature of this neighborhood. This large outdoor venue hosts one of a kind diving and aerial acrobatic shows. Another focal point of the Boardwalk is the carousel and the handcrafted horses.
In addition, Oasis Class ships are home to Broadway entertainment in the main theater, a zip line, an ice skating rink, and the Flowrider surf simulator. The ships (except Allure of the Seas) also feature the Perfect Storm waterslides and the Ultimate Abyss. Allure of the Seas’ amplification was put on hold due to the pandemic.
The Oasis Class offers some unique dining options too. Symphony of the Seas was the first ship to debut Hooked Seafood, a casual seafood restaurant. Portside BBQ also recently debuted on the newly amplified Oasis of the Seas, in addition to the El Loco Fresh casual eatery and Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade.
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Royal Caribbean’s Freedom Class of ships were the largest ships in the world when Freedom of the Seas debuted in 2006. At 156K gross tons, these ships carry just over 3,700 passengers. Additional ships in this Royal Caribbean cruise ship class include Liberty of the Seas (2007) and Independence of the Seas (2008). These ships are larger versions of the Voyager Class.
While not as large as the Oasis or Quantum Class of ships, the Freedom Class still features several family friendly activities. These ships are home to the Studio B ice rink, miniature golf, a rock-climbing wall, the signature Flowrider, Splashaway Bay for the little ones, and more.
In fact, this class was the first to feature the Flowrider surf simulator.
While Freedom of the Seas and Independence of the Seas have both recently been amplified, all three ships in this class also have waterslides on the sports deck. Liberty of the Seas even features Tidal Wave, the first boomerang style slide at sea.
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During its refurbishment in 2019, Independence of the Seas received laser tag, an escape room, and the Sky Pad. The Sky Pad is an outdoor bungee trampoline experience with virtual reality components. The ship also received some new restaurants including Playmakers, Izumi, and Fish & Ships.
Freedom of the Seas was the most recent ship to undergo the Royal amplification process. In fact, we were lucky enough to sail on the one and only cruise on this “new” ship before the cruise shutdown.
Freedom of the Seas also received several new features. She received waterslides, a new Caribbean pool deck featuring the Lime and Coconut bar, laser tag, and an extensive update to the kids and teens areas. In terms of restaurants, Freedom is now home to Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, Izumi Hibachi and Sushi, and the poolside El Loco Fresh.
Royal Caribbean’s Voyager Class of ships debuted in 1999. At 138-140K gross tons, these ships carry just over 3,800-4,000 passengers. This Royal Caribbean cruise ship class includes Voyager of the Seas (1999), Explorer of the Seas (2000), Adventure of the Seas(2001), Navigator of the Seas (2002), and Mariner of the Seas (2003).
The Voyager Class was the first in the Royal Caribbean fleet to have a Royal Promenade and the Studio B ice rink. The ships also all include a rock-climbing wall, the Flowrider, miniature golf, and a sports court.
Quite a few ships in the Voyager Class have recently received updates including Voyager, Navigator, and Mariner. Unfortunately, Explorer’s amplification has been indefinitely delayed due to the impacts of the pandemic. Adventure of the Seas’ amplification in 2021 has also been postponed.
Voyager of the Seas received her amplification in 2019. During this process, the ship received the Perfect Storm waterslides, laser tag, and additional staterooms.
Navigator of the Seas received a bit more of an extensive makeover in 2019 as well. New additions include a Caribbean pool deck, the Lime and Coconut Bar, and waterslides on the outdoor decks. The ship also received a number of new bars and restaurants. These additions include Playmakers Sports Bar, the Bamboo Room, Hooked Seafood specialty restaurant, Jamie’s Italian specialty restaurant, and Starbucks.
Finally, Mariner of the Seas received her amplification in 2018. The most notable additions were the Perfect Storm waterslides and the Sky Pad trampoline experience. The ship also received a new laser tag and escape room, as well as some new bars and restaurants.
Our favorites include the Bamboo Room and Playmakers.
Navigator of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas both offer weekend getaways to Royal Caribbean’s newly re-imagined private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay.
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Royal Caribbean’s Radiance Class of ships debuted in 2001. At 90K gross tons, these ships are much smaller than the other mega-ships in the cruise line’s fleet. These ships carry just over 2,100 passengers.
Ships in this Royal Caribbean cruise ship class include Radiance of the Seas (2001), Brilliance of the Seas (2002), Serenade of the Seas (2003), and Jewel of the Seas (2004).
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A defining feature of the Radiance Class of ships is the amount of glass and outward facing views. This makes Radiance of the Seas a top choice year after year for Alaska cruises.
Being much smaller in size, these ships can also visit more unique destinations that can’t accommodate some of the newer mega-ships. The Radiance Class also shifts in design from the large indoor Royal Promenade to a more intimate Centrum.
Radiance Class ships might not have all the bells and whistles of the larger ships, but they still offer plenty of dining options, amenities, and entertainment.
Royal Caribbean’s signature specialty restaurants Chops Grille, Izumi, and Giovanni’s Table can be found on these ships, In addition, there is also the main dining room and other casual eateries like the Windjammer buffet.
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You will also be able to enjoy signature Royal Caribbean bars like the Schooner Bar and nightly entertainment in the main theater. In addition, these ships feature pools, whirlpools, a solarium, miniature golf, a rock-climbing wall, a sports court, self-leveling pool tables, and Adventure Ocean kids areas.
The Vision Class is now the oldest of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship classes. This class consisted of three pairs of sister ships, each with somewhat different size and design.
Legend of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas were sold in 2017 and 2016 respectively; however, Grandeur of the Seas (1996), Enchantment of the Seas (1997), Rhapsody of the Seas (1997), and Vision of the Seas (1998) are still part of the Royal Caribbean fleet.
Further, unlike other Royal Caribbean ship classes, the Vision Class is not named for the first ship built but rather the last.
Vision Class ships are also known for having lots of glass and ocean views. Grandeur of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas were originally around 73K gross tons. Though, Enchantment was lengthened by 73 feet in 2005 making it over 82K gross tons. Rhapsody and Vision are slightly under 79K gross tons. This class carries 2,000-2,250 passengers.
Again, the smaller size makes these ships ideal for visiting more unique ports of call.
While these ships were all revitalized within the past ten years, they do not feature the latest and greatest amenities of modern day cruise ships. Still, you will find a rock-climbing wall, the adults Solarium, mini golf, and an outdoor movie screen. These ships also have a main theater with nightly entertainment, a main dining room, the Windjammer buffet, and at least one specialty restaurant.
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Which of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Classes is your favorite? On how many of these vessels have you sailed? Drop us an anchor below to share your favorite Royal Caribbean ships.