With 25 cruise ships to choose from, selecting the best Royal Caribbean ship is no easy task. But, as Royal Caribbean groups its ships into classes, choosing the class of ship with the facilities that you want to experience is a great way to start your cruise planning.
In this guide, I’ll show you what to expect from each of Royal Caribbean’s ship classes. I’ve also made a handy chart so that you can compare the classes side-by-side.
- How many ship classes does Royal Caribbean have?
- Royal Caribbean Ships By Class
- Royal Caribbean Ship Classes By Size
- Royal Caribbean Ship Classes Chart
- The Different Classes of Royal Caribbean Ships
- Royal Caribbean Ships Classes FAQs
How many ship classes does Royal Caribbean have?
Royal Caribbean has 8 classes of cruise ships:
- Icon – Newest Royal Caribbean ships launched between 2024 and 2026
- Quantum Ultra – Ships launched between 2019 and 2021
- Quantum – Ships launched between 2014 and 2016
- Oasis – Ships launched between 2009 and 2024
- Freedom – Ships launched between 2006 and 2008
- Radiance – Ships launched between 2001 and 2004
- Voyager – Ships launched between 1999 and 2003
- Vision – Ships launched between 1996 and 1998
So, are the new Royal Caribbean ships better than the old ones? Well, not always. Each class of ships has its pros and cons. So, read on as I compare Royal Caribbean ships by class.
Summary of Royal Caribbean cruise ship classes:
- Icon-class – The biggest ships in the world with so much to enjoy that you won’t have time to do it all
- Quantum and Quantum Ultra-class – Modern, high-tech ships with the fanciest features like the North Star observation pod and the iFly skydiving simulator
- Oasis-class – Formerly the largest ships, these are still absolutely packed with exciting activities
- Freedom and Voyager-class – Slightly older ships, but some have been ‘amped’ to have extra features added
- Radiance and Vision-class – The smallest ships with no fancy features that are best suited for destination-focused itineraries
Royal Caribbean Ships By Class
Each of the eight Royal Caribbean ship classes has between one and five ships in it. The ships within a class are ‘sister-ships’. This means that they’re all built to a very similar design, they have the same outer shell, if you will.
However, the ships in each class are not identical. They were each built to be slightly different. Then, between 2018 and 2020, some of the ships were ‘Amped’, which means that they had a thorough refurbishment and lots of extra facilities added.
List of Royal Caribbean ships in each class:
- Icon – Icon of the Seas, Star of the Seas, one TBC
- Quantum Ultra – Odyssey of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas
- Quantum – Ovation of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas
- Oasis – Utopia of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas
- Freedom – Independence of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas
- Radiance – Jewel of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas
- Voyager – Mariner of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas
- Vision – Vision of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas
Royal Caribbean Ship Classes By Size
One key difference between the different classes of ships is the size. This is important as the largest of Royal Caribbean’s ships (Icon Class) are over three times the size of the smallest ships in the fleet (Vision Class).
|Class||Average Gross Tonnage|
So is bigger better? Well, not always. Many people (myself included) love the Oasis-class ships because they have so much to do on board. There’s even a park in the middle with over 10,000 real plants and trees! And Icon of the Seas takes that even further with more amazing features.
However, the largest cruise ships are just too big to dock at some ports. So, if you want to go island hopping around Greece, for example, you’ll need a smaller ship.
Tickets for the smaller ships tend to be cheaper, and there are some real bargains to be had. If you don’t have kids and don’t want to do surfing, zip-lining and all of that, then there’s no point paying extra for a ship that has activities that you won’t take part in.
Read more: Royal Caribbean Ships by Size
Royal Caribbean Ship Classes Chart
To help you decide which class of Royal Caribbean ship is best for you, here’s a chart showing the features you can expect on board:
|Adventure Ocean Kids Club||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Baby Splash Zone||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||–||–||–|
|Bionic Bar||TBC||YES||YES||YES (except Allure)||–||–||–||–|
|North Star Observation Pod||–||YES||YES||–||–||–||–||–|
|Pools & Whirlpools||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Rock Climbing Wall||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Sky Pad Virtual Reality Trampolines||–||YES||–||–||YES (Independence only)||–||YES (Mariner only)||–|
|Ultimate Abyss Dry Slide||–||–||–||YES (except Allure)||–||–||–||–|
|Water Slides||YES||–||–||YES (except Allure)||YES||Only for kids||YES (except Explorer)||–|
|Wonderland Restaurant||TBC||YES||YES||YES (except Allure & Oasis)||–||–||–||–|
The Different Classes of Royal Caribbean Ships
Still not sure which class to pick? Here’s an overview of each of the Royal Caribbean ship classes…
Ships: Icon of the Seas (2024) Star of the Seas (2025) TBC (2026)
The Icon-class ships are the new biggest in the world, and have some of the most exciting attractions you would ever be able to enjoy at sea.
There are 8 neighborhoods dividing up the ship, including returning favourites like Central Park and Royal Promenade, along with 5 new ones. The Aquadome is host to the new enhanced AquaTheatre, while Thrill Island hosts six record-breaking waterslides.
Icon of the Seas can host 7,600 guests in total and has 28 different stateroom options to choose from, including new takes on family suites and inside staterooms. They’ve even completely overhauled the crew cabins too, so it’s not just guests getting the best experience possible.
Icon of the Seas is the first ship in the fleet to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is the cleanest cruise ship fuel available. When coupled with Royal’s existing eco-friendly tech, it’s the most sustainable ship in the whole fleet.
Read more: Full Guide to Icon-Class Cruise Ships
Quantum & Quantum Ultra Class
Ships: Quantum of the Seas (2014), Anthem of the Seas (2015), Ovation of the Seas (2016), Spectrum of the Seas (2019), Odyssey of the Seas (2021)
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships are the most innovative of all. They have unique features like the North Star observation pod, the RipCord by iFLY skydiving simulator and bumper cars – all things that you simply won’t find on any other cruise ships in the world.
When Royal Caribbean began building Quantum-class ships, it was the first time that the line had ever decided to build ships smaller than those that had come before. Usually, cruise ships have gotten larger over the years. That said, Quantum-class ships are by no means small, most have space for 4,180 guests at double occupancy and 4,905 if every bed is full.
Quantum-class ships are ideal for cold weather sailings such as those out of New York or Southampton. There’s an indoor pool and lots o indoor activities to enjoy when you can’t sunbathe out on the open decks.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between Quantum Class and Quantum Ultra Class, the answer is not much. Quantum Ultra-class ships each have Sky Pad virtual reality trampolines on the back and the indoor pool has a retractable roof for sunnier days. There’s the addition of a Playmakers sports bar, a karaoke lounge and a tea room, but these come at the loss of the pub and teen disco.
Read more: Full Guide to Quantum-Class Cruise Ships
Ships: Oasis of the Seas (2009), Allure of the Seas (2010), Harmony of the Seas (2016), Symphony of the Seas (2018), Wonder of the Seas (2022)
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships were the biggest in the world until Icon came along, with space for over 6,600 guests. These massive ships are so wide that they have a hollow centre where you’ll find the huge Central Park with thousands of plants, the Boardwalk complete with a carousel and a zip-line over the top of it all.
Most Oasis-class ships feature some of the tallest slides at sea, the 10-storey Ultimate Abyss, as well as loys of thrilling water slides. As well as ice skating, there is also a roller skating rink as well as the AquaTheater where you can watch the most spectacular high diving shows.
The oldest Oasis-class ship, Oasis of the Seas underwent a huge revamp in 2019. However, Allure of the Seas’ amplification has been delayed, so she’s missing some of the key features you can expect from the other Oasis-class ships in the fleet. You can read more about that here: Allure of the Seas Vs Oasis of the Seas.
Read more: Full Guide to Oasis-Class Cruise Ships
Ships: Freedom of the Seas (2006), Liberty of the Seas (2007), Independence of the Seas (2008)
They may be a little older and a little smaller, but Freedom-class ships have plenty to enjoy. Refurbishments of these ships have seen the addition of lots of exciting features such as The Perfect Storm Waterslides, escape rooms and laser tag. Independence of the Seas also has the SkyPad trampolines.
While you won’t find any of the over-the-top activities that are unique to the Quantum and Oasis Classes, you can enjoy mini golf, basketball and ice skating as well as the things that all ships have like the casino, spa and swimming pools.
Ships: Radiance of the Seas (2001), Brilliance of the Seas (2002), Serenade of the Seas (2003), Jewel of the Seas (2004)
Royal Caribbean’s Radiance-class ships are known for their views as they have lots of glass walls, glass elevators to outside and some wonderful viewing areas. As these ships can access smaller cruise ports, you’ll find some really interesting itineraries to places like the Panama Canal, Alaska, the Eastern Mediterranean and Australia.
Radiance-class ships are the only Royal Caribbean ships to have self-levelling pool tables – something that was quite special when these ships were launched in the early 2000s. You won’t find any waterslide on boards, but there are still some small slides for kids.
Ships: Voyager of the Seas (1999), Explorer of the Seas (2000), Adventure of the Seas (2001), Navigator of the Seas (2002), Mariner of the Seas (2003)
While they may be around 20 years old, Voyager Class ships still have a lot to offer, especially since these ships were amplified to add things like waterslides, laser tag and escape rooms.
The actual offerings vary by ship though, so you’ll want to check more closely if there’s a particular activity that you want to try. For example, when comparing Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas, you’ll see that one has virtual reality trampolines, whereas the other has a better pool deck with bigger waterslides.
While many areas on these ships are brand new, they can still feel a little dated, particularly in the staterooms and some of the bars.
Ships: Grandeur of the Seas (1996), Rhapsody of the Seas (1997), Enchantment of the Seas (1997), Vision of the Seas (1998)
The smallest and oldest ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Vision-class ships shouldn’t be overlooked. If you don’t mind the lack of bells and whistles, you can find some great deals on cruises on these ships.
Like all Royal Caribbean ships, you can enjoy rock climbing walls, arcades, casinos, spas, pools and whirlpools. There’s also the Adventure Ocean kids club to keep your children entertained, making these ships a good choice for families and couples alike. Enchantment of the seas also has a bungee trampoline.
Cruises on Vision-class ships are often destination-focused, such as longer Caribbean cruises that explore some of the lesser-visited islands in the Southern Caribbean.
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Royal Caribbean Ships Classes FAQs
Bumper cars or ‘dodgems’ can be found only on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum and Quantum Ultra-class ships. So that’s Odyssey of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas.
You can go rollerskating in the SeaPlex on board five of Royal Caribbean’s ships – Odyssey of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas. These are all Quantum-class or Quantum Ultra-class ships.
Five of Royal Caribbean’s ships feature the Ripcord by iFLY skydiving simulator. These are Odyssey of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas.
You’ll find the Merry-Go-Round carousel on Royal Caribbean’s Icon-class and Oasis-class ships. These are Icon of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas
Wonderland is a speciality restaurant that’s featured only on Royal Caribbean ships that were built since 2014. These are Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas.
Central Park is only found on Royal Caribbean’s Icon-class and Oasis-class ships. These are Icon of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. These are the biggest ships in the fleet.
12 of Royal Caribbean’s 27 ships have thrilling water slides. These are Icon of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean’s Radiance-class ships have small waterslides for kids, but no slides for adults.
Playmakers Sports Bar is found on eight of Royal Caribbean’s ships. These are Odyssey of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean’s Royal Genies are available to guests staying in Star Class suites on Icon-class, Oasis-class and Quantum-class ships. These are Icon of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas.
Almost all Royal Caribbean ships have either one or two FlowRider surf simulators. The only ships without Flowriders are the oldest Vision-class and Radiance-class ships. There are no FlowRiders on Grandeur of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas or Jewel of the Seas.
Virtual balconies are available on Icon of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.
Around half of all Royal Caribbean cruise ships have ice skating rinks onboard where you can go ice skating and watch professional ice shows. These are the Icon-class, Oasis-class, Freedom-class and Voyager-class ships.
Understanding the different classes of ships is a good starting point when choosing a Royal Caribbean cruise. If you love the idea of having fun activities around every corner, then you’ll love the Icon Class, Oasis Class, Quantum Class and Quantum Ultra Class ships.
However, if you most look forward to visiting different destinations and relaxing with a cocktail, then the older and smaller ships will suit you just fine.
Remember, that not all ships in a class are identical, so be sure to take a good look at the deck plans and Royal Caribbean’s website to make sure that you know what you’re getting when it comes to booking your cruise.
If you’re planning to stay in a suite, you should also know that Royal Caribbean’s suite perks are a little better on the Icon Class, Oasis Class, Quantum Class and Quantum Ultra Class ships than they are on the older ships.
You should also take note of what’s included in a Royal Caribbean cruise as some of the activities do cost extra.
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