How to Maximize the Fun on Your Family’s Royal Caribbean Cruise

We've got the best tips for cruising with Royal Caribbean.

A family cruise vacation can be just as action-packed as your kids wish and as relaxing as parents and grandparents want when you set sail with Royal Caribbean. Their wow-worthy ships are packed with incredible entertainment options, plus you can seamlessly visit various amazing destinations with ease.

My family recently sailed Wonder of the Seas on a Western Caribbean cruise, stopping at Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas; Cozumel, Mexico to bounce on water inflatables; Roatan, Honduras to zipline through the jungle and Costa Maya, Mexico to swim in a cenote.

Read on for reasons you’ll love cruising, plus tips on how to make the most of your trip. Let’s cruise!

Vitamin sea

Royal Caribbean Cruise with Kids
Photo credit: Cortney Fries

There is nothing quite like water to ease your mind and dial up the vacation vibes. Surround yourselves with the Caribbean Sea and sail on down into warmer weather. Wonder of the Seas sails out of Port Canaveral, about an hour outside of Orlando.

Royal Caribbean’s Utopia of the Seas is scheduled to start sailing out of Port Canaveral in July 2024 and Icon of the Seas departs out of Miami. These ships are huge, floating cities filled with different neighborhoods, water slides, rides and almost endless food options. You can visit many beachy, warm weather destinations with opportunities for fun excursions or hang back on the ship and take advantage of the amenities.

Perfect Day at CocoCay includes beaches with floating saucers, pools with bars and bumping music, plus tasty food options including burgers, fries and tacos. Be sure to book tickets in advance if you want to take advantage of CocoCay’s incredible water park. Cozumel’s warm and sunny almost year round.

Our Beach Break excursion in Cozumel included a floating inflatable park, where we could climb, slide and balance on platforms in the ocean. We swung for a zipline excursion in Roatan, Honduras, which entailed zipping through the lush jungle with humorous guides. From the Costa Maya port, we took off to tandem bike ride to a cenote and paddleboard in warm waters. I always love exploring new destinations, meeting vibrant personalities and learning about their ways of life.

Today’s forecast: high chances of fun

Royal Caribbean Cruise with Kids
Photo credit: Royal Caribbean

Pools and water slides deliver daily smiles when it’s cruising time. There are hot tubs and loungers to kick back on and twin water slides to race down on Wonder. When bathing suit time wraps up, my kids enjoyed rock climbing, family karaoke, mini golf and arcade games. You can also play laser tag, ice skate (yup, on a cruise ship!), simulate surfing, zipline, slide down The Ultimate Abyss multi-story slide, and visit the kids’ club, Adventure Ocean. Teenagers can chill out at the teen lounge. Plus, there are scheduled activities throughout the day and night, like sports challenges, live music and shows.

The aqua theater is incredibly impressive and delivers mesmerizing shows on par with Cirque du Soleil. On Wonder of the Seas, we watched inTENse, an all-female, high-octane production including aerial acrobatics, tightrope walking and dives from towering platforms into a tiny pool. We were also enchanted by the ice show, which included wintery costumes nodding to Game of Thrones and beautiful springtime jumps and twirls.

I love how confidence-building exposure to different people and activities can be for kids. My daughter had the courage to get up onstage every chance she could at family karaoke because the crowd was so encouraging. And my son challenged himself to ring the bell on all the various routes of the rock wall because it was something he could work on each day. My husband and I appreciated how we could sip coffee together, take walks around the cruise ship and work out in the fitness center. There’s also a spa and shopping. If you get some adults-only time, soak up the ambiance in the Solarium, a quieter pool and lounging space.

Cruise ship calories don’t count

Royal Caribbean Cruise with Kids
Photo credit: Royal Caribbean

You’re practically surrounded by food on Royal Caribbean, so there’s almost always on option available that everyone will eat up. Windjammer is the main buffet-style restaurant serving up salads, grilled foods, international options, and, of course, desserts for lunch and dinner. Breakfast can include eggs, oatmeal, pancakes and other palate pleasers. My favorite Windjammer options are the muesli for breakfast and any Indian entrée you can find. Muesli is like overnight oats, soaked in cinnamon, apples, milk and a splash of orange juice.

Ice cream by the pool is like a kid magnet. Families also appreciate the candy shop by the carousel, cheesy pizza at Sorrento’s and nachos piled high at El Loco Fresh. The Main Dining Room rotates a fine dining menu featuring Italian, Caribbean, Asian and other cuisines. My teenage son tried escargot and loved it so much he ordered a second plate.

You can also upgrade to specialty dining restaurants. On Wonder, we dined at Chops Grille, Hooked Seafood and Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen. Chops Grille was such a treat, with succulent steaks, spicy shrimp cocktail, creamy wedge salads and cinnomony apple pie a la mode for dessert. My daughter was delighted at Hooked Seafood because the chef made her a special gluten-free feast to die for. And my son scarfed up his woodfire oven pizza at Giovanni’s.

Tips for getting into cruise mode

Royal Caribbean Cruise with Kids
Photo credit: Cortney Fries

My family has sailed on a number of cruises over the years and here are our top tips.

Arrive at the departure destination a day early

You don’t want to be all stressed out dealing with travel delays and worrying you’ll miss your ship. One time, we booked early morning flights to make our cruise and couldn’t even make it to dinner on the ship that night because we felt like zombies. Arrive a day early to you can relax into your vacation.

Choose the early dinner time

A later dinner time might feel like you’ll have more time for fun in the sun; but truthfully, even as my kids enter the teen years, we’re never up for the 10 p.m. shows. Select the earlier dinner time so you have a chance to see the 8 p.m. entertainment.

Book the aqua show in advance

Seats for shows can fill up far in advance. As soon as you get a chance, snag seats for aqua show. You won’t regret it.

Ask for accommodations if there are allergies in your party

No one ever wants to feel left out, especially when everyone else is enjoying delicious food. If someone in your group has an allergy, but wants to try something, ask the staff for accommodations. More than likely they’ll make something work that makes your family member feel special.

Pack plenty of swimsuits and sunblock, but also sweatshirts and socks

You’ll probably spend most of your days basking in the sun, but remember evenings can get breezy. Plus, some excursions and activities call for closed toe shoes and socks. So pack those and you’ll be ready to go for anything.

The cruise ships are calling! Hope to see you in vacay mode soon.

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Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.


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