Royal Caribbean Ships Ranked Best To Worst (Rated By Reviews)

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Royal Caribbean tops the list when it comes to the sheer number of ships in the ocean cruise game. As of now, they’ve got 27 magnificent ships making waves, and they’re not stopping there—more beauties are set to join the fleet.

Leading the pack is the Icon of the Seas, the freshest face in the lineup, having made her grand debut in 2024. On the flip side, the Grandeur of the Seas has been charming passengers since 1996 and still holds her own in the fleet. 

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas cruise ship sails gracefully at dusk, with the glow of the setting sun casting a warm light on its sleek, white structure. The ship's impressive size and modern design, featuring a unique glass dome, are set against a backdrop of distant mountains and a pastel sky.

This brings us to the million-dollar question: Are Royal Caribbean’s latest and greatest ships really the best, or do the timeless classics still capture the hearts of long-time cruisers? 

After all, Royal Caribbean has long been celebrated for its stellar onboard experiences. Could it be that the older ships still have a special place in the affections of Royal Caribbean enthusiasts? Let’s dive in and see how these ships stack up from best to worst.

How I Ranked the Ships

Before we dive into the rankings, let’s set the stage. The insights here are based on something other than my personal experiences, as I haven’t sailed on every Royal Caribbean ship. Instead, I’ve used data from three major cruise review sites: Cruise Critic, Cruiseline.com, and TripAdvisor. These platforms offer unbiased feedback from thousands of cruisers, ensuring the rankings reflect a balanced average rather than a few outlier opinions.

I ranked each ship by these average scores and used my own judgment for any ties, focusing on onboard features and experiences.

Note: This list isn’t about good or bad— the ‘worst’ score is a decent 3.3 out of 5, and some surprises might be in store!

Second note: I haven’t included Icon of the Seas. As it was only launched in January 2024, it currently hasn’t got lots of reviews compared to the other ships.

1. Symphony of the Seas

An aerial view of Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, as it navigates the deep blue ocean. Its multiple decks and distinctive architectural features create a floating cityscape against the vastness of the sea, embodying the grandeur of modern ocean travel.

The stunning Symphony of the Seas takes the top spot, an Oasis-class ship that truly shines with its variety of activities, including many that echo the musical theme of its name.

The reviews are overwhelmingly positive, although the service in the Main Dining Room does receive a mention here and there—possibly from passengers who are used to smaller, less busy ships.

2. Allure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, one of the largest cruise ships in the world, captured from an aerial angle as it sails the open sea. The ship's deck bustles with amenities, including an aqua theater and green spaces, against the vast backdrop of the ocean.

Allure of the Seas, the second Oasis-class ship to hit the waves, might be older than the newest additions like Wonder of the Seas—it launched 12 years earlier but still delivers a fantastic experience. A refurb in 2015 has kept it fresh and exciting.

Guests continue to praise the array of features and activities, especially those that keep the kids entertained. However, some recurring feedback points to the service in the Main Dining Room and the food quality in the Windjammer as areas that could improve. Luckily, plenty of other dining options are on board if those don’t quite hit the mark.

3. Oasis of the Seas

Overlooking a dreary New York City skyline, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas presents a contrasting image of leisure and adventure on the Hudson River, its vibrant design elements standing out against the muted urban backdrop on a cloudy day.

Oasis of the Seas, the pioneer of the Oasis-class ships, has been making waves since its launch in 2009. This ship isn’t just massive—it’s massively entertaining! With so much to explore, one cruise simply isn’t enough to experience everything it has to offer.

Most reviews are glowing, though there are a few that point out some organisational hiccups, like lengthy waits for tables or at the bar and a few communication issues. These are definitely in the minority, though, and generally, Royal manages the challenges of running such a large ship pretty well. It’s one of my favourite ships, and it’s easy to see why it’s a hit with so many.

4. Harmony of the Seas

The majestic Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas cruise ship is seen sailing on the open ocean during early evening, with its intricate deck structures and vibrant lights beginning to illuminate the vessel.

Seeing another Oasis-class ship rounding out the top four is hardly a shock. Harmony of the Seas continues the tradition with many activities that captivate kids and adults alike. It’s a haven of fun on the high seas.

Like its sister ships, Harmony faces minor grumbles about service and staffing—things like longer-than-expected waits crop up more frequently here. Despite these minor hiccups, the overall feedback is highly positive, especially about the crew’s helpfulness.

5. Mariner of the Seas

The Mariner of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, navigates the open sea, showcased from an aerial perspective. The ship's multiple colorful slides and outdoor activities hint at the adventure and entertainment aboard, contrasting with the vast and deep blue ocean below.

Here’s a fun fact: newer doesn’t always mean better. Mariner of the Seas proves just that, ranking fifth despite being the 16th oldest in the fleet. Even more impressive, it’s climbed two spots since last year!

As the last ship launched in the Voyager class, Mariner hits the sweet spot between lively activities and a relaxed atmosphere. This class introduced some of Royal’s hit features, like the ice rink and thrilling water slides, which were added following upgrades. Yet, Mariner of the Seas manages to avoid feeling overcrowded. Many reviews describe it as a “really nice” ship, perfect for those looking to dip their toes into the Royal Caribbean experience without the crush of the crowd.

6. Serenade of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas cruise ship amidst the awe-inspiring Alaskan landscape, with a vast glacier in the background and pristine icy waters reflecting the ship's elegant design.

Meet Serenade of the Seas, the first Radiance-class ship on our list and the third of its kind to set sail. This ship is a gem for those who prefer a more traditional, relaxing cruise experience over the bells and whistles of larger ships.

Most reviews praise its classic vibe and calm atmosphere. However, some do note that it lacks the flashier entertainment options found on the bigger ships—don’t expect West End-style shows every night. But you’re in luck if you’re more about the destinations than the onboard drama. Serenade of the Seas is currently navigating Royal’s Ultimate World Cruise.

Interestingly, despite some negative buzz around that world cruise on TikTok, this ship has climbed six spots since 2023. It shows that sometimes you can’t take those influencer critiques at face value.

7. Freedom of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas cruise ship is docked at a tropical island, captured from an aerial view. The turquoise and shallow waters of the Caribbean Sea contrast with the large, elegant white ship, while the vibrant island in the background adds to the paradise-like setting.

Freedom of the Seas has stepped up this year, moving ahead of her sister ships in the Freedom Class. It’s a great choice for those who want a ship that’s big on fun without the overwhelming crowds you might find on the larger Oasis-class ships.

While there’s plenty to do, the ship maintains a comfortable balance of size and crowd management. Guests generally love the variety, though there are a few minor gripes about the food quality in the Main Dining Room and sometimes the staff not being up to speed on all the ship’s facilities.

8. Odyssey of the Seas

The Odyssey of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's quantum ultra-class cruise ship, makes its way through the deep blue ocean, under a sky with dramatic clouds at dusk. The ship's side is adorned with its name, marking its impressive presence on the high seas.

Odyssey of the Seas is a shining star of the Quantum Class, packed with cutting-edge technology like the awe-inspiring Two70 venue and the bustling SeaPlex for endless entertainment. However, she has slipped a bit in the rankings this year—previously the second favourite in the fleet.

Most of the gripes are about the Main Dining Room feeling a bit lacklustre and the ship occasionally seeming crowded, especially given all the attractions packed into a space that can feel just a tad tight.

9. Liberty of the Seas

An aerial view of the deck on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas, highlighting an array of twisting water slides in vibrant orange and green. Below, passengers enjoy the ship's spacious pool area, with the ocean's expanse providing a captivating backdrop to the bustling onboard activities.

Following in the wake of her sister, Liberty of the Seas also offers a treasure trove of activities, including all the hit features Royal Caribbean had rolled out by her debut. She’s still a crowd-pleaser despite her age.

The criticisms here are similar—nightly entertainment doesn’t quite match up to the newer ships, and the dining options, particularly in the Main Dining Room and Windjammer, could use a bit of a boost. Yet, she continues to hold her charm and remains popular among guests.

10. Independence of the Seas

The Independence of the Seas cruise ship embarks on a voyage at sunset, its side catching the warm hues of the setting sun, with the sprawling deck activities visible and a backdrop of a distant coastline.

For a while, Independence of the Seas was among the largest ships globally, alongside her Freedom-class sisters. She became a favourite for UK cruisers, having been based in Southampton for several seasons. She’s currently cruising the Caribbean, but hold onto your hats—she’s set for a grand return to the UK in 2025!

Like her sister ships, Independence offers more activities than you’d find on the older Voyager and Radiance classes, but not quite as much as the newer giants. Guests love the balance of size and features, though some note it could do with a bit of an update in places.

11. Adventure of the Seas

The Adventure of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, rests in a calm bay with crystal clear turquoise waters. Lush green hills frame the background, creating a tranquil and picturesque setting for this grand vessel under the bright, clear sky.

Adventure of the Seas, another ship from the Voyager class, is well-regarded for its array of activities suitable for both kids and adults. This includes water slides, the FlowRider, and a rock climbing wall, all with slightly less hustle than the mega-ships of more recent classes.

Feedback from those less impressed mentions issues like the ship’s design, older average age of passengers, and signs of wear and tear. But for a vessel over 20 years old, Adventure of the Seas still has a lot of spirit

12. Navigator of the Seas

A majestic cruise ship, the Navigator of the Seas, basks in the warm glow of sunset as it docks at a port, its multiple decks illuminated, reflecting the fading sunlight.

Continuing with the Voyager class, Navigator of the Seas, launched in 2002, still earns accolades for adding exciting new attractions over the years. It offers a good balance between fun and size, though it doesn’t quite match the variety found on the larger Freedom, Quantum, and Oasis-class ships.

Navigator is showing her age a bit now. The rooms could use modern touches, like USB ports, and the entertainment, while charmingly traditional, could be spiced up. This ship holds a special place in my heart as it was the first Royal Caribbean ship I fell in love with.

13. Wonder of the Seas

The majestic Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas cruises at sunset, with its innovative structure highlighted by the fading sunlight. The world's largest cruise ship is a marvel of modern engineering, boasting a unique combination of luxurious amenities and cutting-edge design as it traverses the open ocean.

Last year, it wasn’t surprising to see the newest ship in the fleet leading the pack. But this year, Wonder of the Seas has taken a surprising tumble down the rankings. Initially, her scores were perhaps overly generous, given that she had just launched. Now settled at a solid 3.9 out of 5, her rating is still impressive but more realistic.

Wonder of the Seas refines the Oasis class to near perfection, featuring outstanding dining options, the most luxurious suites at sea (including incredible two-storey accommodations), and an endless array of activities—from the FlowRider and zip-line to water slides and live shows. She’s a floating marvel that continues to amaze.

14. Jewel of the Seas

The serene waters mirror the Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas, a sophisticated and sleek cruise ship docked in a peaceful harbor. The ship's design, with its rows of balconies and expansive glass windows, offers a glimpse into the elegant experiences awaiting guests aboard.

Jewel of the Seas, the last to launch in the Radiance class back in 2004, might show some wear and tear, but she still offers a largely positive cruising experience. Guests love the calm atmosphere and attentive service she provides.

However, the biggest gripes tend to focus on the food quality, which some feel has declined over the past few years, especially in the Main Dining Room. A few criticisms extend to other dining areas as well.

15. Radiance of the Seas

The 'Radiance of the Seas' cruise ship navigates through icy waters with a backdrop of the stunning snow-capped mountains and a sprawling glacier, reflecting a serene Alaskan landscape.

Radiance of the Seas kicked off Royal Caribbean’s Radiance class, and more than two decades later, she remains a favourite for those looking for a chilled cruise vibe with a touch of Royal Caribbean’s signature style. She’s particularly well-suited to adults, although many guests find the dining and drinking options better on the newer ships.

The ship’s smaller size is a hit for not feeling overcrowded, but some reviewers point out that she’s starting to show her age and could benefit from a few more updates.

16. Brilliance of the Seas

The Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship, a part of the Royal Caribbean fleet, glides across calm ocean waters under a clear blue sky, reflecting the sunlight off its many windows and balconies.

The second Radiance-class ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Brilliance of the Seas caters more to those who prefer a traditional cruise experience. She attracts a slightly older crowd that isn’t necessarily looking for the latest and greatest in shipboard thrills.

Most guests commend the service onboard, though some point out that the decor could use a refresh and the food quality is inferior to that found on newer ships.

17. Ovation of the Seas

The cruise ship 'Ovation of the Seas' glides through the icy waters of Alaska, with the majestic backdrop of snow-covered mountains and glaciers reflecting the clear blue skies.

While Odyssey of the Seas holds a respectable eighth place, it’s a bit of a wait to see another Quantum-class ship in the rankings, with Ovation of the Seas landing at 17.

This ship is celebrated for its innovative features, like the North Star and the Two70 entertainment venue. However, the experience can be hit or miss. Some guests report occasional subpar dining experiences and management issues on busier days at sea, leading to a mix of reviews.

18. Rhapsody of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship navigating the emerald waters near a coastal town nestled at the foot of dramatic mountain cliffs, capturing the essence of a Mediterranean getaway.

Finally, at number 18, we meet our first Vision-class ship, Rhapsody of the Seas. Launched in 1997, she’s one of the oldest and smallest ships still sailing with Royal Caribbean. Despite her age, she earns praise for her service, entertainment, and dining options.

However, her age does show in certain areas, like soundproofing. The lack of modern soundproofing means engine noises can sometimes be heard more prominently throughout the ship.

19. Anthem of the Seas

The Anthem of the Seas cruise ship, part of the Royal Caribbean fleet, cruising on a sunny day with a clear blue sky overhead, showcasing its expansive decks and the unique North Star observation capsule extended above.

I was quite shocked to find Anthem of the Seas so far down the list. It’s a fantastic ship to sail from the UK, packed with excellent features, and many reviewers agree.

Most of the gripes seem directed more toward Royal Caribbean, especially regarding the cost of activities and specialty dining onboard. 

With mostly British cruisers, who might not be used to paying extra for these perks as they would on UK-based lines like P&O Cruises, the complaints might stem from a cultural expectation. Or maybe we Brits just enjoy a good moan (speaking as one myself, there might be some truth in that!).

Despite this, the ship is still highly regarded, though it can get quite busy during peak times like school holidays—I’ve experienced that first-hand!

20. Enchantment of the Seas

Enchantment of the Seas, the third Vision-class ship, launched in 1997 and was later extended in 2005, making her slightly larger than her class siblings. She’s still on the smaller side compared to newer fleet members, so younger guests might find fewer activities tailored to them.

However, adults might find her more to their liking with a nice selection of bars and dining spots. While the entertainment isn’t as flashy as on the bigger ships, many guests feel the dining experience on Enchantment surpasses that of other similarly aged ships in the Royal fleet.

21. Voyager of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas offers a vibrant top-deck experience with a colorful water slide, sports court, and rock-climbing wall, captured with the deep blue ocean stretching into the distance.

Moving on to Voyager of the Seas, this ship kicked off the Voyager class in 1999, introducing now-famous features like the ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, and Royal Promenade.

Though once considered a behemoth, she’s now outclassed in size by newer giants. However, she still receives high marks for a great blend of activities that don’t leave the ship feeling overly crowded. That said, she’s showing her age, and a spruce-up could help her keep up with the fleet, as current reviews note the decor is a bit dated and shows some wear.

22. Explorer of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas cruise ship in a serene setting, surrounded by the tranquil turquoise waters of a bay with lush green hills in the background under a clear blue sky.

Explorer of the Seas, the second Voyager-class ship to launch and the first Royal Caribbean ship built in the new millennium, brought with it a host of new and thrilling activities for both adults and kids. Reviewers often praise Explorer for striking the right balance between size and excitement, making it a favourite for many.

However, the ship might need another round of refurbishments to continue sailing under the Royal Caribbean banner. As some passengers noted, some areas are starting to show their age or require a thorough cleaning to restore them to their former glory.

23. Grandeur of the Seas

The 'Grandeur of the Seas' cruise ship travels in the open sea, its white structure contrasting with the deep blue waters, under a sky scattered with white clouds, embodying the essence of ocean travel.

Grandeur of the Seas, the grand old lady of the Royal Caribbean fleet, first set sail in 1996 and continues to receive mostly positive reviews. Her guests appreciate the charm of cruising on a smaller vessel, though a few mention a limited array of activities.

The variety of restaurants and bars generally keeps everyone satisfied, but there’s notable room for improvement in the Main Dining Room’s food quality. Another common suggestion is for updates to bring her facilities into a more modern era.

24. Vision of the Seas

The 'Vision of the Seas' cruise ship glides through calm waters in a fjord, flanked by steep green cliffs and a cascading waterfall, under a partly cloudy sky, evoking a sense of adventure in the Norwegian landscape.

Holding steady in the rankings from last year, Vision of the Seas was launched in 1998. Despite being one of the smaller ships in the fleet, she gave her name to the Vision-class. The size means fewer activities, which has surprised some passengers.

However, those who know what to expect from a smaller ship leave more favourable reviews, often praising the cosy atmosphere and attentive service. The food receives mixed reviews but tends towards the positive side.

25. Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas makes its voyage across the calm ocean, showcasing its modern design with the North Star observation capsule extended out over the water. The ship's sleek profile and large windows reflect a contemporary approach to sea travel against the backdrop of the expansive sky and sea.

Quantum of the Seas burst onto the scene in 2014 as the trailblazer of the Quantum-class ships, introducing now-beloved features like the North Star, Two70, and the Bionic Bar. Despite these innovations, it finds itself lower in the rankings, primarily due to ongoing issues that have led to cancelled excursions—a significant setback, especially given its Alaskan routes where excursions are a key part of the experience. Here’s hoping these problems are ironed out soon.

26. Spectrum of the Seas

The Royal Caribbean Spectrum of the Seas cruise ship is captured cruising on the open sea, showcasing its distinctive blue and white exterior with yellow lifeboats and an array of onboard activities visible from the side.

Ending our list is perhaps the most surprising entry—Spectrum of the Seas. As one of the newest and the first of the Quantum Ultra sub-class, this ship is slightly larger and brimming with incredible features. Yet, she’s at the bottom of this year’s ranking.

Though still receiving a largely positive response, some passengers feel the ship can be overcrowded and that the crew struggles with queue management, which impacts the smooth running of onboard activities.

Choosing The Best Royal Caribbean Ship For You

Even after ranking every Royal Caribbean ship, it’s clear there isn’t a one-size-fits-all ‘best’ ship—much depends on what you’re looking for in your cruise experience. Each ship caters to slightly different preferences, though they all share the core elements of the Royal Caribbean experience.

So, there you have it: a complete rundown of each ship in the current fleet, with pointers on selecting the best one for your cruise needs. Remember, the ‘best’ ship really hinges on your personal cruise expectations.

And just a note—no Royal Caribbean ship received poor reviews overall, so even those at the bottom of the list provide a fantastic experience. Sometimes, a single less-than-perfect meal can skew perceptions of dining quality, but generally, Royal Caribbean is known for its excellent cuisine.

This is one of the reasons Royal Caribbean are at the top of my list of cruise lines.

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I'm Hannah and I've been cruising for as long as I can remember.

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