royal caribbean cruise highlights

Royal Caribbean Cruise Highlights

I’m back from vacation! Just got in this afternoon from a lovely week (and a bit) away on a Royal Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas in the Western Caribbean. That’s seven nights away, stopping in at Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico. We were fortunate enough to have perfect weather throughout. This was my very first cruise ever, so there was a lot to take in! And while I said I was going to blog throughout the trip… yeah, I didn’t. That’s okay! I took some pictures and had some fun — and I think that’s the important thing anyway. 😉

Royal Caribbean Western Caribbean Cruise Itinerary
For reference, here’s a map!

I could go on forever describing, reviewing, and rating everything we did on this trip. But rather than bore you with the details, especially since this is my first cruising experience and I don’t have very much experience with which to compare, I figure it might be more useful for me to share some of my favourite activities. If a Caribbean cruise is on the horizon for you (har har), be sure to check out these options!

Labadee, Haiti — A Royal Caribbean Cruise Exclusive

Labadee was our first stop on the cruise, and our first (and only) beach day. It was beautiful. We enjoyed the weather and the view both in and out of the water. Labadee also hosts a number of active excursions, like parasailing, ziplining, and a variety of water sports. Joe and I opted for the little Alpine roller coaster after he won a pair of tickets, as I will explain shortly. It was one of those little coasters where you control your own speed, so we got a nice view of the beach as we cruised down the track.

royal caribbean cruise highlights - labadee

I was travelling with Joe’s family, and the six of us booked a villa like those in the picture. While it was super nice, I will say that it definitely wasn’t necessary to have a great time on the beach. Royal Caribbean owns this destination, so the only way you’ll be able to visit is on one of their cruises, which includes the Celebrity line as well. I would definitely visit Labadee again, or somewhere very much like it.

Jamaica — Green Grotto Caves

We spent almost our entire day on excursions in Jamaica, which included climbing up Dunn’s River Falls and touring the Green Grotto Caves. To be fair to Dunn’s River, it was quite the experience, but you definitely need to be dressed for the occasion — that is, getting soaked. Bring your own water shoes and a bathing suit you’re comfortable hiking in.

royal caribbean cruise highlights - green grotto caves

Anyway, back to my Jamaica fave. The Green Grotto Caves were really cool, and not something you see every day. The tour was a nice blend of history, nature, and just a little bit of campy comedy. Also bats. (Hey Mom, this one is not for you.)

 royal caribbean cruise highlights - bats

Grand Cayman — Pedro St. James & Cayman Turtle Farm

This multi-part excursion was awesome for its variety. To start, we visited Pedro St. James, a historic house for Grand Cayman. The tour of the house was accompanied by an introductory video — Canadians, think “Heritage Minutes”. If I were a kid, I probably would have hated this hour-long stop, but we ended up finding it quite endearing (and also pretty funny in the end).

royal caribbean cruise highlights - pedro st. james

The turtle farm was the real highlight. We got to learn about turtles, hold baby turtles, watch people feeding turtles, and then actually snorkel with turtles. I know, that’s a lot of turtles, but it was a really neat and immersive experience.

royal caribbean cruise highlights - cayman turtle farm

Onboard Game Shows!

Heading into my first Royal Caribbean cruise, I had been told that there would be musicals, comedy shows, classes, sports, shopping, and the like. But I wasn’t expecting all the free stuff, especially from the contests and game shows that seem to be running all the time! Admittedly, a lot of the “free” stuff isn’t really free. You’ll win things like discounts, small items you can trade up for larger items for an additional fee, etc. Sometimes you get lucky, though — like when you have a boyfriend who’s willing to star in a game show and win it all!

royal caribbean cruise highlights - onboard game shows

That’s right, Joe went up in front of the audience and took on some trivia, and went home feeling like a millionaire! He won a water bottle, a backpack,  a Del Sol colour-changing beach accessory prize pack, a charm bracelet (for me, haha), an excursion for Labadee (that roller coaster!), an art auction coupon and print pack, and a free scalp massage. The massage certificate expired before he used it, but everything else was great! Now, Joe didn’t win every game, of course. But it was still fun to watch and play along with others.

My understanding is that a Royal Caribbean cruise is meant to have something for everyone. I don’t know if that’s true, but there was definitely lots for us to love.

What are your cruise must-dos?

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