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Wednesday,  April 17, 2024 6:25 PM 

On Location: Why Wonder of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s best Oasis-class ship yet

On Location: Why Wonder of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s best Oasis-class ship yet
PAX checks out "the world's largest cruise ship." (Photos: Royal Caribbean/Diane Tierney).
Diane Tierney

If a cruise ship could be a Wonder of the World, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas would be on the list.

This friendly sea giant is the world’s largest cruise ship, carries about 6,900 passengers, 2,300 crew and is longer than three football fields.

However, Wonder offers unique differences that make her even more vivacious (at 236,857 GT) than her Oasis-class sisters Symphony, Harmony, Allure and Oasis.

Royal Caribbean’s new Wonder of the Seas. (Diane Tierney)

From high-energy venues, such as surfing, ziplining and waterslides, to quiet and classy corners of a lush atrium with 20,000 plants and trees, there’s a sweet spot for every client’s age, interests and mood of the day.

Book your clients on Wonder for more than a week and they probably still won’t be able to visit the more than 20 restaurants, bars and lounges, plus dozens of attractions, venues and shows.

Wonder is the world’s largest cruise ship, carries about 6,900 passengers, 2,300 crew and is longer than three football fields. (Diane Tierney)

PAX participated in Wonder’s inaugural sailing, March 4-11, from Fort Lauderdale to Labadee, Haiti, Nassau, Bahamas and Royal's private island, "Perfect Day at CocoCay."

Here are highlights about what’s new, unique and Wonder-ful about Royal Caribbean’s best Oasis-class ship yet.

New Suite Neighbourhood

Other Oasis-class ships have seven neighbourhoods such as the Royal Promenade of shops and bars; Central Park with its restaurants; the Boardwalk seaside-inspired attractions; Entertainment Place; Pools and Sports Zone; Youth Zone and Vitality Spa and Fitness.

Wonder has all these and more. She boasts an eighth neighbourhood unlike her sisters. The new private-access Suite Neighbourhood offers large and luxurious staterooms including the 1,134-square-foot (105 sq. m.) Ultimate Family Suite that sleeps 10 (the largest of its sisters) and its 212-square-foot (20 sq. m.) balcony.

The Ultimate Family Suite. (Royal Caribbean)

This neighbourhood has more than 400 suites of the 2,800 total staterooms, as well as an impressive, elevated sun deck that overlooks the aft area.

There’s a pool with in-pool loungers, whirlpool, padded chairs and sunbeds, upscale outdoor bar, luxurious indoor bar and lounge, and Coastal Kitchen private restaurant.

The area is ideal for discerning clients who prefer special treatment and amenities, as well as peace and quiet. Several Genies (butlers) are also available for enhanced customer service.

Wonder's suite sundeck. (Diane Tierney)

New Wonder Playscape

For kids, the newest attraction is Wonder Playscape.

It’s an open-air play area with an underwater theme that features slides, climbing walls, games, an interactive touch-screen mural and more.

While some Oasis-class ships have two simulated surfing FlowRiders, Wonder only has one so the space could be dedicated to this new area.

Wonder Playscape. (Royal Caribbean)

At the aft, Wonder has Oasis-class fan favourites such as the FlowRider surfing, Ultimate Abyss nine-storey dry slide, ziplining, rock climbing, redesigned mini-golf and sports court.

The main pool area has also been redesigned with a strong Caribbean vibe and features high-speed waterslides; kids aquapark Splashaway Bay; casitas; in-pool loungers; live music; the popular Lime & Coconut Bar; the largest TV screen of all Royal ships and more.

It’s the busiest place on the ship and with bands playing and pool games happening, it can be loud and crowded.

A pool deck on Wonder of the Seas. (Diane Tierney)

Mason Jar Restaurant

The Mason Jar Southern Restaurant & Bar is a new farmhouse-style specialty venue that serves southern favourites such as fried chicken, pulled pork, pancakes, grits and more, along with a huge selection of whiskies, and country music to enhance the atmosphere.

It is unusual that Royal has devoted a space just for country music.

Mason Jar Southern Restaurant & Bar. (Diane Tierney)

Other fee-based specialty restaurants include the well-known 150 Central Park, Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, Hooked Seafood, Izumi, Johnny Rockets, Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, Starbucks, Sugar Beach and whimsical Wonderland.

Complimentary restaurants include favourites such as the Boardwalk Dog House, Cafe Promenade, El Loco Fresh, Park Café, Solarium Bistro, Sorrento’s, Vitality Café, Windjammer buffet (the largest of all Royal ships with 1,048 seats; 300 more than its sisters) and main dining rooms.

Vue Bar

The Vue Bar is new and beautifully cantilevered over the side of the ship to capture panoramic views by day.

At night it glows with a colourful display of lights that make it an exciting new hotspot.

Vue Bar. (Royal Caribbean)

Cantina Fresca is a Mexican-themed bar that serves margaritas and other alcoholic beverages. It complements the nearby popular El Loco Fresh with its fast-food tacos, burritos and quesadillas.

Other bars include the well-known Bionic Bar, Boleros, Cask & Clipper, Rising Tide Bar, Schooner Bar, Solarium Bar, the Attic, Trellis Bar and Wipeout Bar.

The ship also has a private VIP casino room for high rollers.

New shows

Two standout shows on Wonder include the AquaTheatre show and skating show.

The open-air AquaTheatre has a new back wall of glass (that looks like a mask) that’s different than her sisters and offers better wind protection.

Wonder's promenade. (Diane Tierney)

The exciting “InTENse” all-female show features high-diving feats from a 55-foot-high (16 metres) platform into a 14-foot-deep (four metres) pool and spectacular aerial acrobatics.

The skating show “365: The Seasons” at Studio B features champion ice skater acrobats who perform to colourful lighting, images and sound.

Wonder's main dining room. (Diane Tierney)

Both shows receive standing ovations for their daring physical feats that will make your clients gasp. Studio B is also used for laser tag during the day.

Encourage your clients to download the Royal app on their smartphone soon after booking. It’s important for them to sign up for dining and entertainment options quickly since everything books up fast – really fast.

However, advise that it could be worthwhile to go to a fully-booked show five minutes before it starts as they might be able to get in. Many passengers book, don’t show up, and forget to cancel on the app.

Wonder offers so much to see and do that your clients will likely see value in having everything they want in a vacation.

Wonder sails to the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale from March to April 2022. (Royal Caribbean)

The only thing Wonder doesn’t have is a Deck 13 – since superstition would make suites on that deck a tough sell.

Wonder sails to the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale (March to April 2022), the Mediterranean from Barcelona, Spain and Rome (May to October 2022) and back to the Caribbean from Port Canaveral (year-round starting November 2022). 

Diane Tierney is former cruise columnist for the Toronto Star. She has been on 76 cruises to 46 countries and has 34,000 followers on Instagram @Cruiseguru.

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