Cruising expert, Matt Hochberg answers your Royal Caribbean questions

By Annabel Fuller


Matt Hochberg started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a way to share his excitement about an upcoming Oasis of the Seas cruise. Matts empire now extends beyond daily blog posts to videos, a podcast, message board and live streams as well as a whole lot more.

Matt says, “It all stems from my love of cruising.”

The Royal Caribbean expert previously shared his top tips, and now he answers commonly asked cruising questions.

What Makes Royal Caribbean Stand Out From Other Cruise Lines?

It is definitely the onboard experience; Royal Caribbean builds its cruise ships to be destinations of themselves. That means there’s a ton to do onboard it’s not just a glorified sailboat, it’s not just a floating hotel, there are amazing activities, shows, events, and much more to do on there its incredible.


Are All Ships and Itinerary’s Alike? 

Oh, No. Gosh no. There’s a wide gamut of choices there. I mean cruise ships come in all shapes and sizes, you’ve got really large mega-ships, medium sizes ships, you’ve got large ships. They all offer different things. There’s a lot of common threads among Royal Caribbean ships, but they are definitely not all the same. Royal Caribbean breaks up their ships into classes of ships. That way you can kind of more easily group them together by a common thread. In terms of itineraries Royal Caribbean really goes all around the world I know they’re not all the same. You can go quite a bit out of the way and if you really want to you could never repeat a ship and never repeat a literary and still have a lot of different options for you to look forward to.


Is Tipping Included Onboard? 

Royal Caribbean has something called an auto gratuity which you either prepay, or you pay during the course of the cruise, and that will cover your gratuities. In addition, when your purchase almost anything onboard, there is automatic gratuities assessed with this. Say if you buy a Coke or a beer, you’re going to see on your receipt the cost of the drink plus gratitude. That way it takes the guest work out of it, and it just ensures that everyone is doing the right thing.


What is More Important the Destination or the Ship? 

That really depends on how much your cruising and where you’re going. It can go both ways there is no answer, it depends on what your priority is, and what your experience with cruising is. I’ve been in both situations and you can’t go wrong.


What Time Should I Arrive for Check-In? 

I advocate arriving early. I like getting there before noon. Most people show up between noon and 2 pm, and the reason that I advocate getting in earlier than that around 10:30 – 11 am is:

  1. You’ll beat the crowd.
  2. You’ll be among the first people to board the ship.
  3. It will allow you to enjoy the ship even more on embarkation day.

You’ve paid for your cruise, right? So, whether you board the ship at 11 am or 2:30 pm you pay the same amount of money so you may as well maximise the amount of time you have on day one.


When Should I Book? 

Book as early as you can. Ideally, if you can book your cruise 12, 16, 18 even 24 months ahead of time that will really benefit you. If you live in a country like the United States, Canada or Australia, you have the opportunity to reprice your cruise up until final payment date so if there’s any price drop you can take advantage of them, but meanwhile, you’ve already locked in those low prices.


Should I Book an Older Ship that is Set for Royal Amplified Renovations or Reserve a Cruise that is Already Renovated? 

Either or. The renovation that Royal Caribbean is doing with Royal Amplified is amazing. I really don’t know that I would guessed that it would have been as impressive program as it is when they first announced it. You can’t go wrong with either one.

Amped Independence of the Seas departing dry drydock

Featured Image by @cruisecanaveral on Instagram