Royal Caribbean International, with 18 ships in service and more on the immediate horizon,
has emerged as an industry leader with a long, sparkling history of innovation. Founded by
three Norwegian shipping companies in 1969, Royal Caribbean’s initial ship, Song of Norway,
entered service in 1970 as the first passenger vessel purpose-built for warm weather cruising
instead of point-to-point transport. Song of Norway also was the first with a cocktail lounge
cantilevered from its smokestack, launching the Viking Crown Lounge as a hallmark of every
Royal Caribbean vessel. In 1988, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line merged with Admiral Cruises,
spawning growth marked by unveiling of the 2,350-passenger Sovereign of the Seas, and its
dazzling five-deck atrium. Going public in 1993, while bringing more glittering atrium-style
ships into service, the line in 1997 changed its name to Royal Caribbean International,
reflecting global scope and itineraries. RCI continues its “get out there” campaign touting
“way more than a cruise” with expanded options in the Bahamas as well as Mexico, Alaska, Europe.
True to its name, RCI also has 15 Royal Caribbean ships sailing the Caribbean. On its 3-
and 4-day Bahamas itineraries sailing round-trip from Port Canaveral, Sovereign of the Seas
calls at Cococay (RCI’s private isle) and Nassau. Cocobay offers everything from parasailing
to opportunity to sip Coco Locos on a hammock. Nassau, capital of the Bahamas, offers
shopping, restaurants and easy access to Paradise Island.
As first of the Sovereign family (with sisters Monarch of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas,
and with former first lady Rosalyn Carter as godmother), Sovereign of the Seas has activities
for everyone in the family from an action-packed casino and bars to Adventure Ocean youth
programs for kids. For reunions, private parties or corporate retreats, Sovereign has two
conference centers and seven meeting/breakout rooms. The line’s hallmark Viking Crown Lounges,
with a 360-degree view 14 decks above the sea, provides a great vantage point for relaxation.
Recommended gratuities are at $9.75 per guest, per day, and a 15 percent tip is
automatically added to bar checks. Tips can be pre-paid during reservation,
added to onboard SeaPass accounts or paid in cash at the end of cruise with envelopes provided.
There are four wheelchair-accessible staterooms. Braille elevator signage,
menus, daily news bulletins, and cruise service directories are available.
Closed captioned TVs can be requested for Sovereign of the Seas, along with
TTY (Text Telephone)/TDD (Telecommunication Device for the Deaf), and Alertmaster
alarm clocks with under-mattress or under-pillow vibrators, and monitors for
doorbells, ringing phones, alarms and other sounds. Guests undergoing continuous
ambulatory peritoneal dialysis are welcome to board with supplies, and all types
of oxygen supplies are permitted. Not permitted are women who have entered their
third trimester of pregnancy.
Although not as glitzy as Royal Caribbean’s newer vessels, Sovereign of the Seas
has a rock-climbing wall, twin cinemas, two outdoor pools, two whirlpools, an
assortment of themed bars and lounges, an open-air basketball court and a spa/fitness center.
Among 1,175 cabins in four main categories, 732 are ocean-view in superior, large or standard.
Although there are no balcony cabins on the Sovereign of the Seas, 299 have third or fourth
berths. For luxury at sea, there are Grand, Royal, and Owner’s suites.
Most cabins convert to twin beds to queen-size configuration, and all have private bath
with hairdryer, phone, color television with CNN, ESPN plus movies, a multiple station
radio, and individually controlled air conditioning. Suites have added amenities from
bathtubs to whirlpool baths depending on the category. The 670-square foot Royal Suite
on Sovereign of the Seas has a separate living room with refrigerator and wet bar,
whirlpool tub, walk-in closet, private bath, vanity area, and more.
Kid & Teen Stuff
Adventure Ocean youth programs for ages 3 to 17 are supervised by staffers with degrees
in education, recreation or related fields. Programs are offered by age group: Aquanauts
(3-5); Explorers (6-8); Voyagers (9-12); and Navigators (13-17). Babysitting is offered
evenings, and from noon until sailing, while in port. Children must be toilet-trained,
and in-cabin sitting for children can be arranged for up to two children per cabin.
Options range from five-course meals in the main dining room, serving breakfast,
lunch and dinner, room to juicy burgers at Johnny Rockets. The Windjammer is also
open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with bounteous buffets. There is also 24-hour
room service. Drink packages are available.
Sports / Health / Fitness
A rock-climbing wall offers skill combinations for all levels, and the Sports Deck has a
golf simulator, basketball and a jogging track. The ShipShape Fitness Center, with great
views, has saunas, whirlpools, weight machines, treadmills, stairsteppers, bikes and more,
along with classes in yoga, pilates and other exercises.
A five-story centrum with a hotel-style atrium, foliage, fountains, and a brass-railed
staircase sets the town for entertainment that awaits at a nightclub, disco and show
lounge. Also onboard are shops, galleries and an Internet center.
The Las Vegas-style aquatic-themed Casino Royale has 226 slots and 12 gaming
tables for wagering excitement.
The Viking Crown Lounge, encircling the smokestack, is accessed by glass elevators
that provides a great centrum view. Other favorites include the signature Schooner
Bar, Champagne Bar, and assorted themed watering holes.