In response to requests from some of its most loyal cruisers, Royal Caribbean has changed the age limit for the Solarium, the adults-only sun deck and pool area on its ships.
The minimum age, which for years has been set at 16, will now be raised to 18. In a statement, Royal Caribbean said the changes will go into effect Oct. 1.
“At Royal Caribbean International, a key part of delivering memorable vacations is reviewing the experiences we offer on board and ashore on an ongoing basis,” the statement said. “A recent evaluation has informed a decision to update the age requirements to 18 years and older for the Solarium. This change will keep the age requirement in adult-only areas consistent across our ships and private destinations.”
The decision to make the change was handed down two months after the line’s annual President’s Cruise from Galveston, Texas, when some of the highest-tier members of the Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program voiced concerns about age limits at both the Solarium and Hideaway Beach, an adults-only area scheduled to open in 2024 on Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay. (The line recently revealed the minimum age at Hideaway Beach will also be 18.)
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A passenger on the President’s Cruise who identified herself as Elaine from Florida raised the issue during a Q&A with Royal Caribbean president and CEO Michael Bayley. The event took place in the Amber Theater aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, which was hosting the President’s Cruise.
“‘Adult’ does not start at 16,” the passenger said, speaking to a room full of Royal Caribbean fans. “The Solarium [minimum age] is 16. I’ve never seen an adult 16-year-old.”
Following her statement, a thunderous roar erupted throughout the theater. Some of the brand’s most elite cruisers were gathered for the Q&A, which was one of several President’s Cruise activities scheduled during the voyage.
Passengers almost unanimously supported Elaine’s idea, with some suggesting the age limit be set at 21 instead of 16. Another shouted, “Thirty-five!” to even more cheers when Bayley paused to consider what the appropriate cutoff would be.
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“Listen, I like that, but I wouldn’t be here next year if I did it,” Bayley said, eliciting chuckles from the audience.
“Remember … when the ships are sailing from non-American ports, the drinking age is typically 18,” Bayley said. “So we probably would go to 18 from 16 in the Solarium. I don’t see anything wrong with moving to 18, but remember, we’re all, like, old people in here, so we’re happy to kick out the young kids. At some point we’re going to have to face them.”
As for other issues that cruisers brought to Bayley’s attention during the Q&A, there were plenty, and passengers didn’t hold back.
They asked whether priority embarkation-day boarding would return for the loyalty program’s most elite members, but the answer was no. The line said its goal is to make the experience as great as possible for everyone, eliminating the need for priority boarding. (By checking in on the line’s app prior to the sailing, I was able to board in less than 10 minutes, and so were most other passengers.)
Other issues executives said they would look into included allowing Royal Caribbean Group shareholders the ability to use their shareholder benefits (free onboard credit) on complimentary sailings, particularly those earned through casino play; delaying customer feedback surveys for back-to-back passengers until the conclusion of their final sailing; and inviting crew members who have worked for the company for 25 years or more to attend “welcome back” parties thrown for Crown & Anchor members on each voyage.
And, in a potential indicator of things to come, Bayley cryptically alluded to the potential for onboard sports betting to be added to the fleet’s list of activities and hinted at a possible private island for passengers sailing from Texas.
“Ooh. What a great idea,” Bayley said of the latter when a passenger from the Lone Star State asked if it were possible. “Can there be a private island for cruisers out of Texas for a seven-day cruise? It’s a great idea. I would love to say more, but I cannot. But I can tell you I completely agree with that idea. It’s a great idea. It’s on our wish list of things that we’re going to get done at some point. Next question.”
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