For Grace Jaye, exploring the world is in her blood—and she has more than 50 different destinations under her belt to prove it. She and her family spend six to eight weeks a year traveling far and wide on Royal Caribbean ships, and she estimates that they’ve been on over 50 cruises together.
Traveling at that rate is also why Grace is now one of the youngest-ever guests to have reached the highest tier in the Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program. That means she’s spent at least 700 nights on Royal Caribbean cruises, visiting one city, isle or private island destination after the next. From Navigator to Allure and Oasis of the Seas, Grace has been on ships small and large, with no plans of slowing down. And she has plenty of tips for anyone, whether you’re planning your first cruise or your 50th.
Get a leg up on your next vacation with these hacks as Grace shares her top tips and travel memories.
Q: You’ve been on about 50 cruises in 17-plus years. Which ships have you been on?
Grace: The biggest class I’ve been on is Oasis Class, on Allure and Oasis of the Seas. We really want to go on Harmony and Symphony, we just haven’t had the time. The smallest ones I’ve been on are Brilliance and Navigator of the Seas.
Q: That really runs the gamut. Do you have any favorites?
Grace: I love Allure because of how big it is. Of course, the Boardwalk is amazing, but I also love Brilliance because it’s right in my hometown. I go to high school in Tampa, and the port is 10 minutes away, so it’s like my home ship. I’ve been on Brilliance for so many cruises.
Q: What are some of the destinations that you’ve had the chance to explore, and which ones have been your favorite so far?
Grace: I’ve been all over Europe on cruises, all over the Caribbean, and, of course, Mexico, since I live in Tampa. I love, love, love Mediterranean cruises. The Mediterranean is probably one of my favorite places to go in the entire world, though I don’t have a specific country that’s my favorite because there are too many to choose just one. I also like the Baltic, and last summer we were on a cruise that went to Iceland. It was my first time in Iceland, and that was amazing.
Q: How do you manage to spend so much time exploring the world?
Grace: Usually, we’ll do four-night cruises because it works with my school schedule. Plus, my school is so close to the ship that I can walk off in my uniform and go straight to class. My parents will pick me up during lunch, and we’ll be on board by 1 p.m. I can take a nap and do homework before we set sail. I’ve done spelling bees, Zoom classes and ACT prep work on our vacations.
Q: Having seen so many places and experienced so much, you’ve probably gathered tons of tips and tricks. What’s some of your best advice?
Grace: First, experience things. Don’t hold back, like, “Oh, I don’t know if I’ll like this.” Try it. Then, read the daily schedule because you can get great seats to the shows if you go early enough. And go see the shows! They’re really high quality, and I could not recommend them more. All of the performers are so incredibly talented. It’s like Broadway.
Try and get to the hot tubs really early or really late. Usually, they’ll play a movie late at night, so you can hang out with your friends there for a movie night.
Go to the meet-and-greets. It’s always super daunting to meet new people, but I always recommend just going and putting yourself out there. I also recommend that kids and teenagers go to Adventure Ocean and the teens club because I’ve made so many long-lasting friendships there.
Q: Any favorite dishes or restaurants you look forward to on board?
Grace: I love Izumi—I’m a huge sushi lover. I love their California rolls and their ramen. *Chef’s kiss.* And if you’re on a ship with a Royal Promenade, get the snacks. Late-night pizza at Sorrento’s is always a favorite of mine, and Park Cafe in Central Park is amazing. And from the zero-proof drinks menu on board, the frozen Pina Colada and Shirley Temple are some of my favorites.
Q: What does a typical day at sea look like for you? Any favorite activities?
Grace: There are so many different experiences that Royal Caribbean has to offer, especially from cruise to cruise. There’s no one ship that’s the same, and even on the smaller ships, there’s plenty to do.
A typical day starts by having breakfast with my family at Chops Grille and then going to the pool or the Sports Court with some friends. I love the teens area because I’ve made so many friends that I still keep in touch with. I love meeting new people, and I always seem to make at least one or two friends on every cruise.
I then have lunch and maybe walk around for a little bit before going to the gym. I love the gyms on board. After that I would probably hang out with friends some more before having dinner with my parents at the main dining room, Windjammer or maybe one of the specialty restaurants.
Q: What’s your favorite show?
Grace: I watched “Cats,” the musical, like three times on Allure. There are so many amazing shows, like “Mamma Mia!” and “Grease”—I like all of them. And the ice shows are incredible.
Q: Anything you always make sure to pack?
Grace: If you’re on a ship with an ice-skating rink, bring long pants and socks so that you can go skating. It’s so much fun. For a Caribbean cruise, pack a big floppy hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. I also like to bring a dress for formal nights. And for colder weather cruises: Layers, layers, layers!
Q: You recently created “Taste from Home,” a cookbook inspired by your travels with Royal Caribbean. Can you tell us more about that?
Grace: While sailing with Royal Caribbean, I’ve met amazing kids and interacted with crew and guests from all over the globe. These experiences helped me discover that comfort food is a universal language that brings people together. My love for baking led me to create “Taste from Home,” a compilation of favorite family recipes from people I’ve met all over the world. Whether it’s talking with crew members or swapping recipes, it’s heartwarming to connect through shared passions.
Take a look here at the many places you can visit on a Royal Caribbean cruise to start planning your next vacation.