Royal Caribbean is the ocean cruise line with the most ships. At the time of writing this list, there are 26 ships in the fleet, and more are on the horizon.
The newest ship currently sailing is Wonder of the Seas, which launched in 2022, while the oldest is Grandeur of the Seas, still going strong since she launched in 1996.
The big question is whether the newer, bigger ships for Royal Caribbean are all better than the older ships, or whether the classic ships are still more popular with cruisers.
After all, this is a well-established fleet which has always had a great reputation for its onboard experiences – maybe the older ships still hold a place in the hearts of Royal Caribbean fans?
So let’s find out – I’ve ranked all of the Royal Caribbean ships from best to worst, which isn’t necessarily the same ranking as the newest Royal Caribbean ships to the oldest.
Read on to see what I mean…
How I gathered the data
Before we get to the list, some context is important. This isn’t just my personal opinion. While that might be interesting, it is extremely subjective since it would just be based on one person.
I’ve sailed with Royal Caribbean several times, but certainly not on all 26 ships, and so that’d be a really unfair judgement for me to make.
Instead, I’ve looked at the reviews of all the ships from three of the biggest independent cruise websites – Cruise Critic, Cruiseline.com and TripAdvisor. These websites aren’t biased towards any cruise line or ship, they simply host thousands of reviews from real customers.
That’s why I’ve chosen them – they’ll give the best average scores. By that, I mean they won’t be skewed by one or two really bad experiences, or one or two higher-than-usual scores either. Because there are lots of reviews, the averages will be exactly that – a true average.
I’ve looked at the scores across those three sites, and then ranked each ship in order. Where there were any tie-breaks I’ve then used my own judgement to place one slightly higher based on the features and experiences on board.
Also, one last bit of context – this isn’t a list ranking the ships from “good” to “bad”. This is from best to worst, and worst doesn’t mean that it’s a bad ship. In fact, the worst average score of any ship is 3.3 out of 5, which is still pretty good. You’ll be surprised by which ship it is though.
What are the top 5 Royal Caribbean ships?
According to the average customer review scores, the top 5 Royal Caribbean ships are:
- Wonder of the Seas
- Odyssey of the Seas
- Symphony of the Seas
- Allure of the Seas
- Oasis of the Seas
It’s worth noting that the newest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Icon of the Seas, doesn’t have the customer reviews needed to include it on this list. As soon as the ship has enough sailings – and enough passengers – to build up a score then I’ll update this article and place it in the list.
Will it be top? Guess we’ll have to wait and see!
The Best Royal Caribbean Ships By Reviews
Now, let’s take a closer look at the best and worst Royal Caribbean cruise ships to see what exactly it is that people like and don’t like about these ships…
It’s not surprising that the newest ship that’s currently sailing for Royal Caribbean comes top on this list. And not just because it’s new – Wonder of the Seas is the biggest ship in the fleet, packed with the most features, so there is never a dull moment on board.
Wonder of the Seas has taken the Oasis-class concept and just refined it to its best. Expect amazing dining venues, the best suites at sea (including some stunning two-storey accommodations) and just so much to see and do, from the FlowRider, to the zip-line, to the water slides, to the live shows, and so on.
With the latest Oasis-class ship taking first place, it’s fun to see that second goes to the newest of the Quantum-class ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Odyssey of the Seas is the best example of the class, with all the innovative tech including the incredible Two70 venue and the SeaPlex providing hours of entertainment.
The only complaints I found that were relevant to the ship were that the Main Dining Room was a little uninspired, and the ship felt a bit crowded since there was so much to see and do, but on a ship not quite big enough to contain it all.
Symphony of the Seas is another Oasis-class ship and so again scores highly thanks to the amazing range of activities on offer, including some that are more musically themed in the spirit of the ship’s name.
Reviews are overwhelmingly positive and bad reviews don’t focus on specifics of the ship much, although the Main Dining Room service does get a couple of mentions again – maybe from passengers used to smaller ships and therefore with less busy waiting staff?
Ahh, the ship that made me fall in love with cruising! Before I stepped on board Allure of the Seas for my honeymoon back in 2013 I had never even seen a cruise ship and I had no idea what to expect.
Allure of the Seas was the second of the Oasis-class ships to launch, and while she’s considerably older than the most recent ships (launching 12 years before Wonder of the Seas), she still offers an amazing experience, helped by a refurbishment in 2015.
Positive reviews still rave about the range of features and activities that kids will love, but another familiar criticism is around the service in the Main Dining Room, along with the quality of food in the Windjammer. At least there’s plenty of choice for restaurants if you don’t enjoy the food or service in those two venues.
The first Oasis-class ship, Oasis of the Seas launched all the way back in 2009 and has wowed guests for many years now. The sheer size of the ship is still incredible, and not an inch is wasted – there is so much to see and do that you need more than one cruise just to see it all.
While the ship is overwhelmingly popular in reviews, there are a couple of negative comments that mention a lack of organisation – long waits for tables or bar service, and poor communication. These are in the minority, and for the most part Royal seems to handle the staffing of this massive ship well.
It’s not really surprising that the five Oasis-class ships occupy five of the top six places on this list. Harmony of the Seas completes the set, with people again loving the sheer volume of things that kids and grown-ups can see and do during their time at sea.
The same minor complaints that other Oasis-class ships have received are repeated for Harmony, and if anything they are a little more common – minor issues with service and staffing, with longer waits than expected. Again, most people rave about everything, including how helpful the crew are.
Proof that the newest ships aren’t always the best – Mariner of the Seas is the 7th best in terms of scores despite being the 15th eldest of the ships in the fleet. Mariner was the last Voyager-class ship to launch and it strikes a really good balance between activities and atmosphere.
The Voyager Class introduced some of Royal’s most popular features, such as the ice rink and has since been upgraded with extra water slides, but Mariner of the Seas never feels too busy or in-your-face. Reviews keep referring to it as a “really nice” ship – great for getting a taste of the Royal experience without feeling crowded.
Adventure of the Seas enjoys the same reputation as Mariner of the Seas – another Voyager-class ship, she has a good selection of activities for kids and adults to enjoy, including water slides, the FlowRider and the rock climbing wall, but with a little less of the bustle of the mega-ships of later classes.
The comments from people that were less than impressed are quite varied – poor ship design, an older average passenger, and a ship that looked a little tired and needed updating. For a ship that’s over 20 years old though, she has plenty of life in her yet.
For three years, Independence of the Seas was one of the largest ships in the world along with her Freedom-class sisters. She was also one of the best ships for UK cruisers, being based in Southampton for a few seasons in a row. She now offers Caribbean cruises year-round.
Like other Freedom-class ships, she has a lot to see and do – more than the older Voyager-class and Radiance-class ships but surpassed by the newer ship classes. Most people love the balance of size and features against the crowds, with any negative comments focussing on the ship needing an update in some places.
Liberty of the Seas was the second of the Freedom-class ships and, just like Indy, she has a great range of things to enjoy on board, including all of Royal’s most popular features that had been invented by the time she debuted.
The main criticisms are that the evening entertainment isn’t quite as good as that one newer ships, and the food in the Main Dining Room and Windjammer are a little uninspiring, but again she remains popular despite her age.
All three Freedom-class ships are grouped together in this list – funny how that’s worked out, isn’t it? Again, the balance of size vs. crowds keeps the Freedom of the Seas popular with guests, since there is loads to see and do but not the same packed-out atmosphere of the Oasis-class ships.
Minor quibbles in the reviews mention the food quality in the Main Dining Room again, and staff not always knowing details about the facilities onboard.
The first Radiance-class ship in this list and the third to launch, Serenade of the Seas is a great example of what makes this ship class stand out – it focuses more on creating a relaxing, classical cruise experience without trying to cram in as many different features.
Positive reviews focus on that traditional experience and the peaceful atmosphere, while negative comments sometimes mention the difference in quality with larger ships, particularly the evening entertainment which doesn’t have the same West-End feel. Not so much of an issue if your itinerary is more important to you, which is good since this ship is sailing Royal’s Ultimate World Cruise.
Radiance of the Seas was the first of the Radiance-class ships to be built for Royal Caribbean and over 20 years later, she is still a popular choice for those who want a relaxing cruise with a little bit of that Royal Caribbean flair. It may be one of the better Royal Caribbean ships for adults, though many still prefer the bars and restaurants on newer ships too.
Positive comments touch on the smaller ship size and how it doesn’t feel crowded at all, although some reviewers have mentioned it is looking a little tired and could do with some more updates.
Jewel of the Seas was the final Radiance-class ship to launch back in 2004 and while she’s a little worn in places, most people still have a really positive cruise experience thanks to her tranquil atmosphere and good service.
The biggest criticisms for Jewel seem to be levied at the food quality, which many say has taken a downturn in the last couple of years. This mainly applies to the Main Dining Room but a couple of people mention other restaurants too.
Back to the Voyager-class and Navigator of the Seas, which launched in 2002, still gets a lot of praise for how she has added exciting attractions to a ship that has been going for quite some time.
Like her sister ships, there’s a good balance between fun and size, although not quite as much variety as the larger Freedom, Quantum and Oasis-class ships.
Navigator is definitely feeling her age a little though. Rooms could do with some quality updates, including things we take for granted now like USB ports, while the shows are a little more traditional and could be better.
Despite Odyssey of the Seas being ranked second in this list, it’s surprising to see how the other Quantum-class ships have fared – we have to wait until position 16 to get to the next one, which is Ovation of the Seas.
Generally, people love the innovative features such as the North Star and the Two70 entertainment venue, but there are inconsistencies in guests’ experiences, whether it’s occasional poor food, or bad management of busier sea days, which have led to some mixed reviews.
The second of the Radiance-class ships to launch for Royal Caribbean, Brilliance of the Seas shares a similar atmosphere to her sisters – less packed with the modern activities and more aimed at a slightly older crowd who enjoy a traditional cruise experience.
The ship is talked about positively for its service in the most part, but some cruisers have mentioned the decor looking a little tired and needing an update, or the quality of the food not being the same as on more modern ships.
It’s taken until the 18th position on the list but we’ve reached the first of the Vision-class ships for Royal, the oldest class still sailing for the fleet. Rhapsody of the Seas launched in 1997 and while she is one of the smallest ships in the fleet, she still gets good reviews for her service, entertainment and dining choices.
Understandably, criticism tends to be levelled at the age of the ship. She has been refurbished, but there are still signs she’s an older ship – particularly in the lack of modern soundproofing, which means engine noises can be heard more throughout the ship.
I was pretty surprised to see Anthem of the Seas so low on this list, considering it’s one of the best ships you can sail on from the UK and it’s packed with great features. And a lot of reviewers do agree.
Honestly, most of the negative reviews seem to be aimed at Royal Caribbean as a whole rather than the ship itself – particularly for the high cost of activities and speciality dining on board.
As this ship has mostly British cruisers on board, perhaps they’re used to not having to pay for these things when they cruise with British cruise lines like P&O Cruises? Or perhaps the Brits just like to moan? (I’m British and I suspect that’s partly true).
The ship itself is generally seen in a really positive light, although one or two have mentioned it gets quite busy during peak season. I cruised in the school holidays and I can attest that it did feel bust with so many kids onboard.
The first ship built in this millennium for Royal Caribbean, Explorer of the Seas was the second Voyager-class ship to launch and continued the theme of exploring new and exciting activities including plenty of fun features for adults and kids alike. Reviews mention how Explorer gets the balance between size and excitement right.
The ship could probably do with another refurbishment if it’s going to keep sailing for Royal Caribbean though – there are areas that are either getting old or need a really deep clean to revitalize them, according to some past guests.
Enchantment of the Seas was the third of the Vision-class ships to launch, debuting in 1997. Eight years later, the ship was lengthened, making her slightly bigger than her sister ships. She is still considerably smaller than later ships in the fleet, so don’t expect the same amount of activities for younger guests.
Adults will probably appreciate Enchantment more, with a good selection of bars and places to eat. The entertainment is a little less exciting than on the bigger ships, according to some guests, but the food gets better reviews on Enchantment of the Seas than it does on similarly-aged Royal ships.
The oldest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Grandeur of the Seas debuted all the way back in 1996 and is still getting mostly positive reviews from her guests. The people who book cruises on Grandeur like the fact she’s a smaller ship, with only one or two reviews mentioning the lack of things to do.
There are enough restaurants and bars to keep things fresh, which is good as one of the bigger criticisms is the quality of food in the Main Dining Room – the other, understandably, being the ship needing some more updates to make it feel more modern.
The last of the Voyager-class ships in this list was the one that started the class in 1999, and helped create the experience we expect from Royal Caribbean now – features such as the ice skating rink, rock climbing wall and Royal Promenade debuted on the ship.
While she was once seen as a huge ship, she’s now dwarfed by larger ships from all major cruise lines, but she still gets a lot of positive reviews for the good mix of activities without feeling crowded. She could do with another refresh, if she’s to remain sailing with the cruise line, as reviews do mention dated decor and signs of wear and tear.
Vision of the Seas launched in 1998 and despite being the last Vision-class ship to arrive, she was the one that lent her name to the class of ship. She’s considerably smaller than much of the fleet, so some criticism in reviews comes from passengers who didn’t realise there wouldn’t be much to do on board.
But most have done their research and have left positive feedback on the atmosphere and the service, while reviews of the food are mixed, leaning towards positive.
One of the newest ships in the fleet, Spectrum of the Seas was the fourth Quantum-class ship to sail for Royal Caribbean and the first of the Quantum Ultra sub-class, ships that are slightly larger. She is packed with amazing features, which is why it’s a little surprising that she’s so low on this list.
Again, her review scores are still mostly positive, but there are a few comments that she just feels too crowded and that the crew aren’t great at managing queues to make sure things run smoothly onboard.
Surprised by the ‘worst’ cruise ship in the fleet? I know I am. Quantum of the Seas debuted in 2014 as the first of the new Quantum-class ships, with some fantastic features making their first appearance for the cruise line, including North Star, Two70 and the Bionic Bar.
Looking at the reviews, the reason it scored lower seems to be some recurring ship problems leading to cancelled excursions – and with Quantum sailing Alaska, the excursions play a huge part in the experience. Hopefully, the ship issues are resolved.
Royal Caribbean Ship Reviews
Now, here’s a table showing the review score for each of the Royal Caribbean ships according to the most popular review sites. The table is ordered by the age of the ship, with the newest ships at the top.
|Ship||Cruiseline Review Score||Cruise Critic Review Score||TripAdvisor Review Score||Average|
|Wonder of the Seas||4.7||4.5||5.0||4.73|
|Odyssey of the Seas||4.5||3.9||no reviews yet||4.20|
|Spectrum of the Seas||4.0||3.2||3.3||3.50|
|Symphony of the Seas||4.6||3.9||4.1||4.20|
|Harmony of the Seas||4.4||4.1||4.0||4.17|
|Ovation of the Seas||4.3||3.4||3.9||3.87|
|Anthem of the Seas||4.2||3.7||3.6||3.83|
|Quantum of the Seas||3.7||3.2||3.0||3.30|
|Allure of the Seas||4.4||4.2||4.0||4.20|
|Oasis of the Seas||4.3||4.1||4.2||4.20|
|Independence of the Seas||4.2||3.8||4.1||4.03|
|Liberty of the Seas||4.2||4.0||3.9||4.03|
|Freedom of the Seas||4.2||4.1||3.8||4.03|
|Jewel of the Seas||4.0||4.0||3.7||3.90|
|Mariner of the Seas||4.2||4.1||3.9||4.07|
|Serenade of the Seas||4.0||4.0||4.1||4.03|
|Navigator of the Seas||4.1||3.8||3.8||3.90|
|Brilliance of the Seas||4.0||3.9||3.7||3.87|
|Adventure of the Seas||4.2||4.0||4.0||4.07|
|Radiance of the Seas||4.1||3.9||3.9||3.97|
|Explorer of the Seas||4.0||3.9||3.5||3.80|
|Voyager of the Seas||4.0||3.8||3.3||3.70|
|Vision of the Seas||3.9||3.7||3.5||3.70|
|Enchantment of the Seas||3.9||3.9||3.6||3.80|
|Rhapsody of the Seas||4.0||3.9||3.7||3.87|
|Grandeur of the Seas||3.9||3.9||3.5||3.77|
Choosing The Best Royal Caribbean Ship For You
Even with the review rankings above, there isn’t really a single ship that’s best for everyone. It depends on what you’re looking for from your cruise because different ships appeal to slightly different tastes. There is of course a Royal Caribbean experience which means that all ships are similar, but not exactly the same by any means.
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Royal Caribbean Ship FAQs
The nicest Royal Caribbean ship depends on your definition of “nice”, which is absolutely subjective. The most modern, and therefore the ship in the best condition, is currently Wonder of the Seas. Mariner of the Seas could also be the nicest – it combines the fun Royal Caribbean experience with a calmer atmosphere.
The Wonder of the Seas is the most fun Royal Caribbean ship in the fleet currently, but Icon of the Seas will have the most features when she launches so she will become the most fun ship in the fleet.
The best Royal Caribbean ship for adults is Odyssey of the Seas. The Quantum-class ships in general are better for adults due to their modern, innovative features. Odyssey of the Seas is the newest in this class, and has refined the experience in the best way.
Any of the Oasis-class cruise ships for Royal Caribbean is the most kid-friendly as they have the widest selection of activities on board. Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are a little older but are still just as fun as Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas.
The most luxurious Royal Caribbean ship is probably either Symphony of the Seas (which is larger and has some of the best suites at sea, as well as a fun music theme) or Odyssey of the Seas, which is a little smaller and doesn’t feel as busy. Both are modern and slightly more suited to adults than their sister ships.
The largest Royal Caribbean ship is Icon of the Seas, which is also the largest ship in the world. It is the first of the new Icon-class of ships for Royal Caribbean and is around 20% larger than the previous largest, which was Wonder of the Seas.
The Oasis-class ships have the biggest casinos in the Royal Caribbean fleet, with Wonder of the Seas probably having the best one since it’s the most modern – this means it has the latest slots along with a huge selection of table games to play.
For now, Wonder of the Seas has the best water slides of all the Royal Caribbean ships, including Supercell and The Perfect Storm, including Typhoon and Cyclone. Icon of the Seas will have six water slides and so will be the best when she launches.
All of the Oasis-class ships have the best selection of food with many restaurants to choose from. Wonder of the Seas is the latest ship and among its many venues it includes Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, Wonderland, Hooked Seafood and the ever-popular Chops Grille.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it – every current Royal Caribbean ship ranked, and recommendations for the best ship depending on what you’re looking for from your cruise.
Remember that there isn’t really a single ‘best’ ship because that depends on what you want from your cruise.
Also – none of the Royal ships were badly reviewed, so even the ‘worst’ ones are still great.
While some reviews mention bad food, on the whole, Royal Caribbean has great food according to reviews. It could be that one bad meal or something not being cooked to the guests liking leads them to mention the ‘poor’ food when they review the ship.
- The Best Royal Caribbean Ships for Adults
- The Best Royal Caribbean Ships for Kids
- Royal Caribbean Ships by Size: Comparison Chart