I’ve always loved cruising, and am thrilled to see a return to the seas for the major cruise lines. Royal Caribbean’s large, epic ships have always intrigued me. When I was invited to the Inaugural Voyage and naming ceremony of their new ship – Odyssey of the Seas, I was excited to attend. I eagerly anticipated experiencing their famous combination of quality and energy for myself aboard the first Quantum Ultra Class Ship to be in the United States.
I was only on the ship for two nights, but I was able to experience and see many of their offerings during my first time on the Royal Caribbean cruise line. I loved my experience, and feel that this should be a great option for family fun, particularly those families with older kids.
I was also very impressed by the crew members and the service aboard the ship. Everyone seemed to love their job and were truly there to help make my trip as memorable and worry-free as possible. Here’s my guide and review of the Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas.
Disclosure: my trip and sailing were complimentary so that I could experience the ship. All opinions are my own.
Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas Review
Odyssey of the Seas is currently sailing out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale Florida to the Caribbean. In June 2022, the ship will be moving to Rome for Greek Isles and Holy Land itineraries.
Port Everglades is an extremely convenient port to sail from. Fort Lauderdale Airport is just a 5-10 minute drive away, and Miami is about 40 minutes away. The two flight options mean you are more likely to find a flight that works best for your budget and schedule.
I flew into Fort Lauderdale Airport and was at the terminal in line to check-in within a few minutes of landing. Currently, guests 12+ need to be fully vaccinated to sail, and also need to test within 2 days of leaving. Younger guests need to both test in advance and also test at the port. Note that these requirements are subject to change, so you’ll want to check the latest before you leave.
Before sailing, you’ll need to download the Royal Caribbean app and check in to your sailing. During this process, you’ll select a port arrival time, take a photo of yourself, and upload photos of your passport and vaccination card. It was easy to do and definitely saved time upon my arrival.
Be sure to bring your SeaPass (through the Royal Caribbean app, set up in advance), your vaccination card, proof of your negative test results, and your passport. I had to show all of these before I was able to board.
Once you get on the ship, you’ll be able to access your stateroom key cards. They will be at your door, waiting for you.
As I entered this ship, I was immediately impressed with the energy of this new Royal Caribbean ship. There’s lively music, friendly cruise staff, and an impressive lobby – called the Royal Promenade aboard the Royal Caribbean ships. It’s easy to feel like you are immediately on vacation when you walk onboard.
Activities on the Odyssey of the Seas
The excitement and energy carry across to the activities on the ship – which will keep you busy during the mornings, evenings, and days at sea. Teens will especially enjoy these, and probably won’t even want to get off the ship at ports. Some of these are offered at an additional fee, and guests should book them in advance as soon as possible.
SeaPlex: The SeaPlex is a huge section of the ship that is the home base for many of these thrilling activities. It’s great for the whole family. The main area includes a large space that is used for several activities throughout the day, including bumper cars, table tennis, and basketball.
Popular arcade games, including Mario Kart and ski ball, surround the area. In addition, a sports bar, Playmakers Sports Bar Arcade, is located on the 2nd floor, overlooking the SeaPlex.
North Star: This clear observation capsule travels 300 feet above sea level for amazing panoramic views. I had the opportunity to ride on North Star while we were docked at Perfect Day at Coco Cay. The entire journey is about 15 minutes, and it’s a mild ride up. I would definitely recommend checking it out – take pictures of the great view while you are up there!
Splashaway Bay: This kid-friendly water play area includes a splash bucket, water geysers, and a small water slide. It’s best for younger kids, who will enjoy cooling off while having fun.
RipCord® by iFLY®: This experience, which is offered at an additional cost, is a way for guests to experience the thrill of skydiving without leaving the ship. It’s available to guests ages 3 and up, so it’s something almost all kids can enjoy!
Sky Pad: Adding a twist to the traditional bungee trampoline, Sky Pad riders wear a VR headset while jumping. I didn’t get a chance to do it, but the cruisers jumping all seemed to love it.
FlowRider: Surfing without even leaving the ship? Another teen favorite, the FlowRider, is a 40-foot long surf simulator. Private sessions are also available.
Virtual Adventure Zone: a 4D virtual reality experience where you can complete a mission with your group. This is available to guests 13 years old and older.
Rock Climbing Wall: This 40-foot rock-climbing wall is offered at no additional charge.
Pools: I loved the Caribbean-themed two-level pool deck, with multiple pools, hot tubs, and lounger chairs. Chaise beds are also available for rental. This is the perfect spot to relax and get some sun during a day at sea.
Laser Tag: Experience glow-in-the-dark laser tag at the Clash for Crystal City. It’s a 15 minute, included experience, that’s available for those at least 5 years old and 40 inches. Note that closed-toed shoes are required (something I don’t always pack for a Caribbean vacation).
Solarium adult section – if you are traveling without kids, or if they are enjoying some fun at the kids’ clubs, you’ll definitely want to visit the Solarium. This adult-only section includes cascading pools, a clear glass roof, a bar, and ample seating to enjoy a drink and read a book.
Programming – in addition to these spectacular activities, there are other programs offered for guests. These include various educational sessions like jewelry making, as well as karaoke, game shows, and trivia. You can find the schedule in your app.
Food on the Odyssey of the Seas
I was incredibly impressed with the number of diverse eateries located on the ship. Regardless of when you are hungry, or what you feel like eating, you will find somewhere great to eat. I really liked the “Hungry Now?” section of the app, where you can quickly look to find an open restaurant.
Do you or a member of your family have food allergies or other dietary restrictions? I was impressed with how the buffets had food clearly labeled, with a whole section in the Windjammer with gluten-free options. It’s important to indicate restrictions in your reservation, and the crew can help you with anything you need.
There are seven dining establishments that are included with your cruise. These include the Windjammer buffet, the Main Dining Room, the Solarium Bistro, El Loco Fresh, the Cafe at Two70, Sorrento’s pizza, and Cafe Promenade. Room service is also available.
During my short cruise, I had the opportunity to try out a few of these – the Windjammer, the Main Dining Room, and the Solarium Bistro. The quantity and quality of food options are truly impressive.
The Windjammer is a huge buffet offering breakfast and lunch. I visited for breakfast and was immediately surprised by the staggering amount of food stations and options. Even picky eaters will find something perfect for their meal. This is a great option especially in the morning since you can arrive at any time and eat at your leisure.
Guests are assigned a main dining room time and table for dinners during the duration of their cruise. This two-story restaurant is where most guests have dinner. While I didn’t visit the main dining room for lunch, I did visit for breakfast. I enjoyed chatting with my friendly waiter who told me about his 18 years working for Royal Caribbean.
In addition to these included restaurants, Royal Caribbean also offers seven specialty dining locations (eight including Starbucks). In most cases, these need to be booked in advance to ensure availability.
Specialty restaurants include Chops Steakhouse, Wonderland, Teppanyaki, Izumi Sushi, Coastal Kitchen, Chef’s Table, and Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar.
As an Italian food lover, I was eager to try Giovanni’s, which is the most family-friendly of the specialty options. Giovanni’s is not new to Royal Caribbean cruises, but this version on Odyssey of the Seas has been reimagined to be more casual and family-friendly. It features pizzas created by Miami pizza chef Renato Viola. Originally from Southern Italy, Chef Viola came to the US on an O1 visa years ago.
While the pizza is delicious, I opted for their linguine with clams and shrimp as my entree. But first, we were treated to several appetizers including a charcuterie plate, gigantic meatball, and garlic knots. The food at Giovanni’s is excellent, and although there is an additional charge, I’d recommend eating there for one special dinner.
Shops on Odyssey of the Seas
As an avid shopper, I’m always excited to see the selection of shops and merchandise on any cruise ship. Most of the shops on the Odyssey of the Seas are concentrated around the spectacular Royal Promenade area of the ship.
These ships, like those on all cruise ships, are only open when the ship is sailing, due to port restrictions. They offer Royal Caribbean merchandise and name-brand apparel, as well as luxury items like cosmetics, handbags, jewelry, and watches.
Forgot something at home? At the end of the shops, you’ll find a room with vending machines filled with essentials like toiletries, sunscreen, device chargers, and more. Like the shops, these are only open when the ship is not at port.
Staterooms on the Odyssey of the Seas
Your stateroom is the main vacation component you’ll be selecting when you book your cruise. But, with all of the activities on and off the ship, you hopefully won’t be spending too much time in the room.
When choosing, think about what type of experience you’d like to have. While I don’t usually stay in the room for very long, I do enjoy having a morning cup of coffee while sitting on my balcony.
Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas has several room categories to consider. These include three levels of suites, ocean-view rooms with a balcony, interior staterooms, ocean view staterooms with no balconies, and virtual balcony staterooms.
I had an ocean-view room with a private balcony for my stay. The room includes a pull-out couch, a comfortable king bed, a television, a bathroom with a shower, a desk, and a balcony with a small table and two chairs. There’s also a hairdryer and numerous outlets.
I did notice that there isn’t a lot of space for placing folded clothes. There is, however, a closet where you can hang items. I’d recommend packing your suitcase using packing cubes, so you can easily access outfits from your bag. Then, you can slide the suitcase under the bed and pull the cubes out as you needed them.
Toiletries in the room include hand soap, and a combination body/hair wash. If you prefer to have separate shampoo or conditioner, it’s best to pack your own with you.
Entertainment on Odyssey of the Seas
While I truly enjoyed everything about my experience on the ship, the entertainment is what dazzled me. Through both my immersive session with the head of entertainment, Nick Weir, as well as watching two of the shows on the ship, it became very clear that Royal Caribbean is raising the bar on what entertainment at sea can be.
There are two separate theaters on the ship – the Two20 Theater and the Royal Theater. The Royal Theater shows two live shows while the Two20 Theater shows one. During my sailing, I had the opportunity to watch two of the shows – the Book (in the Two20 Theater) and The Effectors (in the Royal Theater).
Both shows run for less than an hour and are worth watching. While they aren’t specifically kid-friendly shows, older kids will probably enjoy seeing them for the effects and talent.
Currently, you’ll need to make a reservation to see the show. You’ll provide your cruise key card at the front entrance to show your reservation and gain admission. There’s plenty of seating, including chairs at tables in Two20.
I thoroughly enjoyed both shows, although I think the Effectors was my favorite. It was incredibly entertaining, with brilliant special effects. Although I didn’t have the chance to see Showgirls (the second show in the Royal Theater), I’m sure it was also entertaining.
In addition to these shows, there are other entertainment options including bands and singers. This entertainment is spread across the ship’s venues, including Music Hall and the Crown Bar.
There are also several fantastic bars to enjoy a drink if your kids are off exploring on their own. One must-visit is the Bionic Bar, which is staffed by two robot bartenders. You’ll have to see it to really believe it! If you enjoy tropical alcoholic beverages, try a Lime and Coconut in the Lime and Coconut bar on the pool level.
There are several kids’ club options for your children. Although my kids are older now, they always enjoyed spending time in the clubs on cruise ships, where they could have fun and meet other kids.
For younger kids (up to twelve years old), Adventure Ocean offers programming throughout the day. There are also AO Babies and AO Juniors. Admission to the kids’ club is included with your trip, although there is an extra fee for AO Babies and the Late Night Party.
If you are traveling with teens, they can hang out in the teen club. There, they will find gaming, movies, and other programming, and can meet other teens on board the ship.
Perfect Day at CocoCay
Our short media sailing only stopped at one port – Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean International’s private island in the Bahamas. This small island is packed with something for everyone, whether you are looking for thrills or would just like to relax on the beach.
CocoCay is staffed by a population of Bahamian residents who live on the island full time. I found the staff to be friendly and helpful. The island does accommodate up to two ships at a time. During our visit, we were joined by Freedom of the Seas for the day, and the island didn’t feel crowded at all.
There are some activities and excursions offered at an additional fee. These should be booked in advance to ensure availability. These include the Up, Up, and Away hot air balloon ride, zip lines, jet-skiing, glass-bottom boat rides, and swimming with pigs.
Love water slides? The Chill Water Park (admission charge applies) offers the Daredevil’s Peak, the tallest water slide in North America. There’s also a wave pool, Splash Summit waterslides, and Adventure Pool.
Other activities at Perfect Day at CocoCay include Chill Beach, Splashaway Bay, Captain Jill’s Galleon, and Oasis Lagoon. Various cabanas, including overwater cabanas, are scattered throughout the island. These can be booked for an additional fee.
While the Odyssey of the Seas is currently operating in the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, it will be moving. Starting in June 2022, it will move to Rome, Italy.