These are my 4 favorite spots on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Royal Caribbean has been a massive innovator when it comes to pushing what a cruise ship can be. 

Its newest ship, Icon of the Seas, has countless first-of-its-kind attractions.  When you board Icon, for example, you can’t miss The Pearl, a stunning giant stairway covered by a pearl-like structure that leads from the Royal Promenade to the Pearl Cafe, a new take on the classic Promenade Cafe. 

Related: Carnival follows Royal Caribbean in making a major cruise change

It’s a visual marvel, but the best part isn’t The Pearl itself. It’s that the structure is weight-bearing, enabling the cruise line to offer floor-to-ceiling windows in the Pearl Cafe. This in turn makes that one of the best spots to have a cup of coffee, work, visit with friends or simply stare at the sea.

For now the Pearl is on only one Royal Caribbean ship, although it will likely be on Star of the Seas, the second Icon-Class ship, when it launches in 2025. 

New features, of course, are amazing, and Central Park, an outdoor area on Icon and Oasis-Class ships, may be my favorite place on any ship. It’s simply amazing to be outdoors in a park with quiet and stillness on a cruise ship holding 8,000 or so people. 

And many features are on most, if not all, Royal Caribbean ships. There’s something comforting to be able to enjoy them whether you’re on the newest ships or one of the fleet’s older members.

Sam Ensuque is playing in the pub on Explorer of the Seas.

Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet

1. The Royal Caribbean English pub

Nearly every Royal Caribbean ship has a pub that uses a something & something naming structure. On Utopia of the Seas, for example, the English Pub will be called Bell & Barley while the one on Allure of the Seas is the Bow & Stern.

All the pubs, however, share a unique beverage menu — by the end of the cruise, the bartenders usually have my Buffalo Manhattan ready not long after I sit down — and an acoustic guitarist. 

Nearly every guitarist I have ever seen play in a Royal Caribbean pub is quite talented with most mixing old favorites with more contemporary tunes. The best of them, like my friend Sam Ensuque, pictured above, create an atmosphere that feels like a true British pub where between sets and songs people talk to the people sitting near them, and friendships are built.

The pub, at its best, makes a huge cruise ship feel cozy as people sing along to “Sweet Caroline,” “Wagon Wheel,” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads” over a pint, a cocktail, or even just a glass of water. 

2. The Solarium

Every Royal Caribbean ship has a Solarium, an adults-only area that in most cases offers a pool, hot tubs, lounge chairs and a bar. Because it’s 18-plus, the Solarium, which is a covered indoor/outdoor space at the front of each ship, offers a pool experience that’s a bit quieter.

There are no bands, contests or movies in the Solarium and while getting a chair can be hard, there’s usually plenty of space in the pool and the bar is usually not as crowded as the regular pool bars.

It’s also much easier to talk to your fellow passengers in the Solarium pool or hot tubs as the overall noise level is much lower than the one in the all-ages pool area.

3. Playmakers sports bar

The oldest ships in the fleet, and Allure of the Seas, an Oasis-Class ship that will be updated later this year, don’t have Playmakers, but the sports bar is on many of Royal Caribbean’s ships. The location varies, but the venue is always a large sports bar with a beer-heavy drink menu along with bar food like buffalo wings, nachos and a much-loved “Campfire Cookie.”

My favorite time to visit Playmakers is when there’s a playoff game or some other sporting event that makes it a destination. 

On Navigator of the Seas, where the Playmakers is on the Royal Promenade, or on an Oasis-Class ship (except Allure) where it’s located on the Boardwalk, the entire surrounding area gets filled with people watching the game, rooting for their team, and politely jeering their rivals.

It’s a wonderful communal experience that brings great energy to the ship.

4. Casino Royale

Don’t gamble on a cruise if you’re not a gambler on land. 

Many people hear that you can earn free cruises or even get unexpected free cruise offers just for playing a little in Royal Caribbean’s onboard casino. You can, but free is relative as the cruise line is not going to regularly lose money to give out free cruises.

If you like to gamble, however, Casino Royale offers a room full of like-minded people, Yes, it’s fun to play slots, video poker and table games, but it’s also a good time to sit at the casino bar to watch a game or chat with fellow gamblers.

Some of the best bartenders in the fleet seem to work at the Casino Royale bar, and many will make you something special if you share the flavors you like with them. 

And late at night, when the rest of the ship has gotten quiet, the casino remains open (often past 2 a.m.). 



Related Posts

Union Capital Financial Group Ltd, registered in the British Virgin Islands, does not provide investment services inside the United States. The company only provides consulting, advisory and educational services.