Royal Caribbean's Most Passionate Cruisers
We set sail on a Royal Caribbean ship to figure out what about the mega-line floats so many cruisers' boats.
For years, vacations for the Nooitgedagt (pronounced noy-ka-dot) family consisted of all-American road trips; Hippy, a retired trucker from Pennsylvania, would take his wife, Janet, and their kids, Nanci and Pete, to hear country music in Tennessee, or to commune with history at Valley Forge in honor of the bicentennial. Then, in 1991, Janet won a trip for two on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norway, and the couple converted to cruising for good. On their most recent outing—their seventh with Royal Caribbean—Janet and Hippy were joined for the first time by the entire clan. The group was gathered for Janet's 70th birthday and tested just about every service on the ship. That ranged from the kids' clubs to the restaurant options ("They brought us as many lobster tails as we wanted in the dining room!" Gavin says). The family's whopping bar bill perhaps best speaks to how much fun they had—and explains how all-inclusives find their profit margins. The Nooitgedagts hope to return to RCI next summer, for a nine-night Caribbean cruise. "Where else can you find a floating resort that offers such a great vacation for such a good value?" Janet asks.
Best Tip Going as a group? Don't be shy about asking for discounts. When the Nooitgedagts booked their trip a year out, it cost over $13,000 for their party of 11, but they paid closer to $10,000 in the end, thanks to last-minute negotiations.
—additional reporting by Caroline Patience and Megan Stride