How Do Royal Caribbean Ships Line Up by Age?

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Are you thinking about your next Royal Caribbean cruise? The ship you choose can be just as important as the destination itself. With Royal Caribbean’s fleet of 28 cruise ships (and more on the way), you have many options to choose from. But here’s the thing: not all ships will give you the same experience.

If you’re all about cutting-edge tech and top-of-the-line amenities, the age of the ship matters. Royal Caribbean updates its ships every few years, but the newest ships often offer experiences that the older ones can’t quite match.

So before you book your cruise, take a moment to read the list of Royal Caribbean ships, ranked from newest to oldest. Whether you’re after the latest cruise ship or something a bit more classic, this guide will help you choose what’s best for you.

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.

The Newest Royal Caribbean ship

The Icon of the Seas is the newest addition to the Royal Caribbean fleet. Its maiden voyage was in January 2024.

Not only is Icon of the Seas the pioneer in the new Icon Class, but upon launching, it will also hold the title of the world’s largest cruise ship.

It also has several firsts. It is Royal Caribbean’s first ship to be powered by LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), marking a significant advancement in sustainable cruising.

When it comes to onboard experiences, Icon of the Seas is raising the bar. Guests can look forward to the innovative AquaDome neighbourhood, the adrenaline-pumping Category 6 Waterpark, and the family-centric Surfside neighbourhood.

Once it launches, the ship will embark on 7-night Caribbean itineraries starting from Miami, Florida. 

The Icon of the Seas cruise ship is captured cruising on the open sea, showcasing its colorful and vibrant deck activities and amenities against the expansive blue ocean backdrop.

The Oldest Royal Caribbean Ship

The oldest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet is Grandeur of the Seas, which has been sailing since 1996. While she may not have the latest high-tech amenities, she has a charm that has touched many cruisers. 

Grandeur of the Seas is also the smallest of the fleet, accommodating just 2,240 guests, a contrast to the newer ships. Before December 2020, Empress of the Seas held the title, but it was sold along with Majesty of the Seas to make room for new additions.

The Next Royal Caribbean Ship to Launch

Following the launch of Icon of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas is set to debut in July 2024. As the sixth vessel in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class, it will offer an open-air design along with notable features like an AquaTheater and Central Park. 

The ship will operate 3 and 4-night cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida, with itineraries including stops at Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas.

List of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships By Age

Here’s a table listing all of Royal Caribbean’s ships by age. I’ve also included their respective classes to give you a more complete picture. 

Just a quick note: Star of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, and Icon of the Seas are still being worked on and haven’t yet made their maiden voyages. 

Ship NameClassYear BuiltInaugural SailingMax Passenger Capacity
Star of the SeasIconDue 2025TBDTBD
Utopia of the SeasOasisDue 2024July 22, 20245,668
Icon of the SeasIconDue 2024January 27, 20247,600
Wonder of the SeasOasis2022March 4, 20226,988
Odyssey of the SeasQuantum Ultra2021July 31, 20215,510
Spectrum of the SeasQuantum Ultra2019April 18, 20195,622
Symphony of the SeasOasis2018April 7, 20186,680
Harmony of the SeasOasis2016May 29, 20166,687
Ovation of the SeasQuantum2016April 14, 20164,905
Anthem of the SeasQuantum2015N/A4,905
Quantum of the SeasQuantum2014November 2, 20144,905
Allure of the SeasOasis2010December 1, 20106,780
Oasis of the SeasOasis2009December 5, 20096,780
Independence of the SeasFreedom2008May 2, 20084,375
Liberty of the SeasFreedom2007May 19, 20074,960
Freedom of the SeasFreedom2006June 4, 20064,515
Jewel of the SeasRadiance2004May 8, 20042,502
Mariner of the SeasVoyager2003November 16, 20033,807
Serenade of the SeasRadiance2003August 1, 20032,476
Navigator of the SeasVoyager2002December 14, 20024,000
Brilliance of the SeasRadiance2002July 19, 20022,543
Adventure of the SeasVoyager2001November 18, 20013,807
Radiance of the SeasRadiance2001April 7, 20012,466
Explorer of the SeasVoyager2000October 28, 20003,840
Voyager of the SeasVoyager1999November 21, 19993,840
Vision of the SeasVision1998May 2, 19982,514
Enchantment of the SeasVision1997July 13, 19972,730
Rhapsody of the SeasVision1997May 19, 19972,416
Grandeur of the SeasVision1996December 14, 19962,440

Click here to also see a list of Royal Caribbean Ships by size and age.

An aerial view of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship reveals a bustling top deck with multiple pools, slides, lounging areas, and a miniature golf course, surrounded by the deep blue textures of the ocean.

Should I sail on an old or new Royal Caribbean ship?

The “right” Royal Caribbean ship for you will depend on what you’re looking for in terms of amenities, atmosphere, and budget. With such a diverse fleet, you should find a ship that suits your preferences.

Choosing between an older and a newer Royal Caribbean ship comes down to many factors, including size, facilities, destinations, passengers, ambience, and price. I’ve broken down each element below:

Size

The size difference between older and newer ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet is striking. For example, the latest addition, Icon of the Seas, has a gross tonnage of 250,800, making it nearly 3.5 times larger than the Grandeur of the Seas, which has a gross tonnage of 73,817. 

The larger size of newer ships allows them to offer extensive activities and amenities, making them essentially floating mega resorts.

Recommended Reading: Royal Caribbean Ships by Size

Onboard Facilities

Newer ships generally have more cutting-edge facilities like zip lines, skydiving simulators, virtual reality trampolines, escape rooms, and bumper cars. Older ships don’t offer these high-adrenaline activities. However, they still feature essential amenities like swimming pools, rock-climbing walls, arcades, and kids’ clubs.

A guest enjoys surfing on the FlowRider surf simulator aboard the Oasis of the Seas cruise ship, showcasing an exciting on-board activity under clear blue skies.
My husband on the Flowrider on Oasis of the Seas

Destinations and Itineraries

Newer, larger ships sometimes focus more on the onboard experience rather than the destinations. Older ships, due to their smaller size, have the capability to dock at ports that cannot accommodate the mega-ships, offering more port-intensive itineraries with fewer sea days.

Panoramic ocean view from a Royal Caribbean balcony room overlooking the clear turquoise waters of the Bahamas with a speedboat cruising by a lush island.
Looking out to the Bahamas from our balcony room

Demographics

Newer ships tend to attract a younger demographic, families with children and younger couples looking for various activities.

On the other hand, older ships often appeal to an older crowd who might prefer a more relaxed and intimate cruising experience.

Recommended reading: The Best Royal Caribbean Ships for Kids

Ambience and Decor

The atmosphere can vary between the older and newer ships. Newer ships tend to have a bustling environment filled with activities, while older ships provide a more laid-back atmosphere. 

Although every Royal Caribbean ship is refurbished every three years, the decor on older ships may appear slightly dated compared to their newer ships, but in my opinion, they are still of high quality.

Budget Considerations

Price can be a determining factor for many travellers. Older ships generally offer a more cost-effective experience, while the demand for brand-new ships typically drives their prices higher.

Wrapping It Up

Choosing between older and newer Royal Caribbean ships ultimately boils down to what you value most in your cruising experience. If you’re seeking cutting-edge amenities and a wide range of activities and don’t mind sharing your holiday with a larger crowd, newer ships like those in the Oasis or Quantum classes might be ideal. 

On the other hand, if you prioritise intimacy, fewer crowds, and the opportunity to visit less accessible ports, then the older ships in the Vision or Radiance classes might be more to your liking. 

From a personal perspective, having sailed on different classes of Royal Caribbean ships, each has unique charm and appeal. Whether you crave the adrenaline rush of zip-lining over the ocean or desire the peaceful corner where you can read a book undisturbed, the Royal Caribbean fleet has something for everyone.

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

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