Odyssey of the Seas: Photo Tour of Royal Caribbean's Cruise Ship
Royal Caribbean is one of the most popular mass-market cruise brands in the world, but that doesn't mean the average customer fully understands its varying levels of custom-built ships.
The line's gargantuan, record-breaking Oasis Class ships (such as Harmony of the Seas from 2016 and Symphony of the Seas from 2018) can fit more than 6,000 passengers when they're fully booked. Oasis Class ships are so large that their cores have been hollowed out to form a light interior, open-air canyon.
Not everyone wants to battle crowds on a ship that size (and not every port wants to accept them), so for the customers who want an activity-crammed, traditionally shaped ship without going to extremes, Royal Caribbean introduced the smaller—but still action-packed—Quantum Class ships starting with 2014's Quantum of the Seas and continuing with ships that include Anthem of the Seas (2015)
Odyssey of the Seas (2021), in that mid-market Quantum Class, was intended to enter service in 2020, just as the pandemic began. Instead, the vessel's debut was delayed by a year and half, making it the first new Royal Caribbean ship to enter service since after the global reality of Covid-19—notice, while you're aboard, that the elevator call buttons can be activated simply by holding your finger a short distance away.
While Odyssey (pictured above in Fort Lauderdale) represents a victory for the cruise industry as it rebuilds, the ship was always destined to be the last of the Quantum Class. Royal Caribbean will tweak and upgrade its ship design in the future with the slightly larger Icon Class starting in 2022.
What's aboard the Odyssey of the Seas, and why would you choose this vessel instead of another ship? Have a look around and see for yourself.
2,105 total staterooms
167,704 gross registered tons
Maiden voyage: July 31, 2021
1,138 feet long
135 feet wide
14 guest decks
28 feet draft
22 knots cruising speed
Booking: 866/562-7625, www.royalcaribbean.com
Let's start with one of the biggest draws: the pool area. There are two major public pools, and neither of them is sheltered under glass (secondary pools have been canopied on some ships in the past). Since this ship's first round of journeys will be in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, that translates into lots of sun time. The main deck also has a low-impact kiddie splash area, which keeps the family in one area—a blessing for parents.
If you're comparing this layout to previous ones in the Quantum class, there's a new twist: On Odyssey, the pool decks' bar is plus-sized. Called The Lime & Coconut, it spans two decks, doubling your chances to get to your piña colada swiftly.
At the back of the top deck (not pictured), there's also a 40-foot-long FlowRider surfing simulator pool (pretty much standard now on Royal Caribbean's ships), which can be booked for an extra fee.
Instead of installing tangles of water slides, a few Quantum ships (including Quantum of the Seas and this one, Odyssey of the Seas) have The North Star, an enclosed observation pod that reaches as high as 300 feet above sea level on a sturdy armature. Sometimes the 14-passenger pod will dangle you over the ocean, and sometimes it climbs directly up into the sky. This, too, must be booked ahead, and there's a fee, although it varies depending on the kind of excursion you take (night rides, ones that go straight up and down, others that extend sideways, and so on).
Here's the view from inside the North Star capsule by night, looking down at the illuminated pool deck. Although the ride is a slow one (in all, it takes 10–15 minutes), in high winds it can be jiggly, so if you have issues with heights or enclosed spaces, this pod is a no-go for you.
Odyssey of the Seas cost a reported $1 billion to bring to the market, and Royal Caribbean aims to recoup a lot of that investment here, in the stores and restaurants that line the Royal Esplanade, the double-height mini mall on Decks 4 and 5.The Royal Esplanade functions as the shopping center for the ship. Jewelry, beauty items, and a Starbucks are all on offer here, as are a few of the speciality, up-charged restaurants that guests can patronize (for an added fee) when they tire of the complimentary meals in the main dining room and at the Windjammers buffet, on a higher deck. Bars include the Latin-themed Boleros (with frequent live entertainment), the somewhat English-themed Crown & Compass Pub, Chops Grille steak speciality restaurant, Izumi for sushi, Wonderland for the ship's attempt at deconstructed and molecular cuisine, and Bionic Bar, where automated robot arms mix drinks on command (another fixture on modern Royal Caribbean ships).
The big cruise lines are finally starting to figure out the merch game, putting out well-designed branded clothing that you actually might not be embarrassed to wear. It's at The Shop, on the Royal Esplanade, where passengers can purchase a range of ship-specific souvenirs and wearables.
The main Royal Theater is also on Decks 4 and 5. For Odyssey's launch, Royal Caribbean eschewed adaptations of Broadway hits, which was the trend for about a decade. That shift surely saves a bundle on licensing agreements, and the line has instead poured those funds into upgrading its stagecraft.
Trap doors, aerialists emerging from the ceiling, costumes illuminated with timed precision, swarms of lighted drones flying over the audience—the shows don't always make a lot of sense, but that's not the point. They're meant to set a mood and to dazzle. Think of Royal Caribbean's current entertainment as cutting-edge Las Vegas on the water: eye and ear candy for its own sake. Reservations are required, but they're free. We'd suggest not sitting in the balcony, because in many seats there, columns obstruct the view. Get to the show early to snag a balcony seat.
A secondary showroom, Two70, spans two decks (5 and 6) on the ship's stern. By day, wraparound windows take in the view, but during performances, the windows are transformed into Vistarama, a backdrop for projection animation that's 135 feet wide and has 12K resolution. Two70 serves as a catch-all space for entertainment that isn't a strict theatre-style performance; late at night, it might function as a nightclub, and during the afternoon, it might be a stop on the ship's fun virtual reality/smartphone-powered scavenger hunt games.
The main casino is underneath the floor of the Royal Esplanade. It's the one spot on the ship where you may smoke freely.
Royal Caribbean says its two-level Music Hall (Decks 3 and 4) is "inspired by the spirit of rock and roll," but that mostly means you'll find cover bands and karaoke here. The space, lined with bars, is loungey and better for conversation than Two70, where the shows demand more attention.
Onboard bumper cars are another signature feature Royal Caribbean brought to the seas on some of its recent ships. The cars are hidden away in the SeaPlex at the top of the vessel, at the back of Deck 15, and when they're not colliding with each other, the same space serves as a basketball court.
Although previous Quantum ships have had this carnival-ride gimmick, the Odyssey is the first ship to have attached a sea-facing sports bar, Playmakers, to the area's duplex level. The simple addition of some food and booze makes the SeaPlex a choice hangout. This version of the SeaPlex makes it possible to sneak away from the rest of your family to catch live games on satellite TV, devour chicken wings, and pause in between rounds of beer for a few games of Skee-Ball (charged to your card).
Attached to the SeaPlex, Zone Zero is, as the cruise line puts it, "the first fully immersive 4D virtual reality experience at sea." Royal Caribbean has been investing in developing more VR diversions, which are delivered both through its own visors and equipment and through the passengers' own smartphones, which they can point at various objects on board to transform their images on screen.
The Zone Zero Virtual Adventure Zone wasn't working on our test cruise—it's a new addition that debuted on Odyssey of the Seas—so we can't tell you what it's like yet. But rest assured the company is investing heavily to make it something guests will clamor to do.
In the same area as the SeaPlex, guests can book hair-raising bungee-bouncing sessions in the SkyPad, which hangs off the side of Deck 16. Also available: simulated skydiving sessions in a wind chamber by RipCord by iFLY. And, of course, an outdoor rock climbing wall—we're old enough to remember when rock climbing walls were considered the wildest cutting edge of modern cruising. Now they're as common as ice makers and spa tubs.
As if all those diversions aren't enough for young cruisers, of course there are kids' clubs as well. This one is called Adventure Ocean. The ship's spaces for kids are secure (non-staff adults not allowed), and one of the things people like about them is that admission is free (except for young babies and for special events like late-night parties).
Age-restricted exclusivity goes both ways on Odyssey of the Seas. Cascading on multiple levels between Decks 13 and 14 at the ship's prow, the glass-enclosed Solarium is for guest 16 and older. Multiple whirlpools, a bar, a healthful café, and lots of private nooks make this an excellent place to escape the din of the rest of the ship.
(By the way, that woman in the image isn't human—she's a work of art that graces the headwaters of the spa tubs' cascades.)
The ship's spa, salon, and fitness center (if you're into that kind of thing) are a deck away from here.
If you don't spend extra to book one of the seven specialty restaurants, you can always enjoy waiter service at the main Dining Room (Decks 3 and 4) for nothing. Some previous Quantum ships divided this area into multiple smaller spaces, but with Odyssey, the old cruising tradition of a grand, shared restaurant has been revived.
The other complimentary meal space is up on Deck 14 with wide, glass-enclosed ocean views. It's Windjammer, a staple on Royal Caribbean ships, that wraps around the back end of the ship in a U shape.
For now, buffets are not self-serve (for sanitary reasons, crew serves you), but there are still no limits to the amount of food you can stuff into yourself. And it's not just cheap items, either—look at all that lobster tail.
Like other Royal Caribbean ships in multiple classes, Odyssey has an El Loco Fresh, located nearly poolside. After a long day exploring on shore, there's a special satisfaction into digging into nachos, quesadillas, and burritos with an open-air view of today's destination. It's part of your basic cruise fare.
Everyone wants to know what a typical stateroom looks like. Here's 10242, an average cabin with a balcony.
The tall cabinet beside the bed contains a small safe for valuables.
That sofa converts into a bed, so this room can sleep four. Mind you, it would be a very tight squeeze—you only have about 198 square feet to work with.
Here's a reverse view of the same cabin. The cabinet to the left contains a mini-fridge and a hair dryer (so you don't have to pack one).
Whether you have American/Canadian electronics, European plugs, or you just want to recharge by USB, your desk outlets have you covered.
Plenty of room to mill about the bathroom. Like most cabins at the typical price point, you won't get a bathtub and the sink shares the same space as the toilet and shower.
There aren't many interior staterooms on the Odyssey of the Seas—it's a ship that's geared toward ocean views, most of them (nearly 1,500) with balconies.
If you're saving money, though, 366 cabins are Inside staterooms. They're windowless but not not all of them are viewless—the Virtual Balcony category has a live camera shot of where the ship is. At the moment this photo was taken, we were in Fort Lauderdale's unattractive Port Everglades, but your view will usually be much nicer. You can even hear what it sounds like out there by turning up the volume with your TV remote control.
Almost all of Odyssey's Caribbean trips will include a day or two at Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay (where this image was taken). And we've got a whole gallery devoted to that, too—click here to learn all about Perfect Day at CocoCay.