Review: what it's like to sail on the world's largest cruise ship

Updated on 20 May 2022 | 0 Comments

The tallest slide at sea, an underwater-themed playground and a brand new Suite Neighbourhood – Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas has plenty of great features fitting of the world's largest cruise ship. New-to-cruise writer Gemma Prince hopped onboard.

Big, bold and beautiful, Wonder of the Seas – Royal Caribbean's newest of its five Oasis-class ships – truly lives up to its name. At a staggering 1,188 feet long (362m) and 210 feet (64m) wide, the mammoth ship, which sailed its maiden voyage from Florida in March 2022, is nearly four times longer than a football pitch. With a whopping 18 decks, enough room for 6,988 guests and packed with plenty to see, eat and do, it’s easy to forget you’re actually on a cruise ship as Wonder of the Seas feels more like its own mini-city.

READ MORE: The world's biggest cruise ship and other amazing cruise facts 

What sets this ship apart? 

Wonder of the Seas has lots of exciting new features that set it apart from other Royal Caribbean vessels. It's the first Royal Caribbean ship to have eight neighbourhoods, including the new Suite Class Neighbourhood on decks 16, 17 and 18. It's open exclusively to suite class guests and features a lavish sun deck (pictured below), comfy loungers and a plunge pool, alongside eating and drinking spaces the Coastal Kitchen and the Suite Lounge.

Sun deck on Wonder of the SeasCourtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Other familiar neighbourhoods include the Boardwalk (pictured below), an entertainment hub that's lined with restaurants, bars and cafés. Right in the middle of the strip, there's a full-sized carousel for guests of all ages to enjoy that evokes the nostalgia of traditional English seaside resorts.

BoardwalkCourtesy of Royal Caribbean International

The Royal Promenade is like the downtown of the ship and is filled with haunts to enjoy, such as the English-style Cask & Clipper Pub for beer and late-night joint Sorrento's Pizza for a slice or two. The promenade is where the ship’s parade takes place in the morning, a colourful pirate-themed show which, when I was onboard, starred belly dancers, moving ships and a robotic shark fin – it only lasted a few minutes but was quite the spectacle.

Another must-see neighbourhood, Central Park (pictured below) is a soothing open-air sanctuary in the heart of the ship. A Royal Caribbean favourite, here it is home to thousands of flowers and plants that have earned it the nickname "a living city". The plants surround several restaurants and shops including Giovanni's Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar and the famous Rising Tide Bar. Resembling a spaceship, the futuristic bar slowly ascends and descends between Central Park and the Royal Promenade, offering lovely views across three levels.

Central Park Image by Royal CaribbeanCourtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Another brand new feature for Wonder of the Seas is the Wonder Playscape (pictured below) for families, an underwater-themed world featuring slides, puzzles and interactive murals of sea creatures that come to life with one touch. The Wonder Playscape has life-sized versions of classic games to enjoy too, perfect for both children and adults, such as Noughts and Crosses and in the evenings, it is illuminated with lights for a magical feel. 

Outdoor water playgroundCourtesy of Royal Caribbean International

What entertainment is there onboard?

Wonder of the Seas prides itself on mastering four areas of entertainment: water, air, ice and stage. There are three main entertainment venues on the ship: the Royal Theatre and Studio B on deck four and the AquaTheatre on deck six.

At the open-air AquaTheatre (pictured below), a water-themed show known as inTENse has an all-female cast, a Royal Caribbean first. The team of skilled swimmers and acrobats (including former Olympians) jump, dance and somersault across the water in a show-stopping display. In Studio B, the ice rink onboard, guests can journey through the seasons with the 365: The Seasons On Ice show featuring champion ice skaters. 

Alongside the shows, guests can discover live music such as salsa, jazz and country music in various bars and lounges throughout the ship.

Aqua theatreCourtesy of Royal Caribbean International

If shows aren’t your thing, there’s still plenty to keep you entertained across the decks too. Thrill-seekers will love the zip line, which soars nine decks high above the Boardwalk. I was quite nervous to try it but it only lasts a few seconds and it was a rush to whizz above deck, over people's heads.

There's also the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, which plunges 10 floors below from deck 18. The entrance of the slide is framed by an intimidating-looking fish which sets the tone for the hair-raising experience. As your slide down, you'll see a flurry of lights dancing around you, making it easy to forget how fast you're going until you reach the bottom.

Meanwhile, adults can soak up some sun on the redesigned pool deck, splash about in one of the many pools and hot tubs or grab a drink at two-storey poolside bar, The Lime & Coconut. Be sure to try their signature namesake cocktail while enjoying the DJs and live music nearby.

With a ship this size, there are bound to be a few concerns over its environmental impact, but Royal Caribbean was happy to answer any questions. All 2,300 crew members are trained in waste disposal and management and strive to be landfill-free when possible. There are two advanced emissions purification systems onboard that treat 570,000 gallons of water each day and are closely monitored by the crew.

What can you eat and drink?

With over 40 restaurants, cafés and bars offering every cuisine you can think of, when it comes to food and drink, you’ll be truly spoiled for choice. There’s a great mix of complimentary and speciality dining options, from sushi and hot dogs to tacos and pizza. 

One of the highlights onboard is Royal Caribbean's brand-new Southern-themed eatery The Mason Jar (pictured below), which I was lucky enough to try. With a focus on comfort and southern home-style cooking, the restaurant offers all the New Orleans classics such as lobster and crawfish gumbo, crab beignets and fried green tomatoes all served up in generous portions. Drinks are served in mason jars (of course) and cocktails are mostly bourbon and whisky-based. A live country band played throughout the evening, adding to the cosy vibe.

Mason Jar restaurantCourtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Also on deck 15, high above the water, the new Vue Bar offers speciality cocktails with sweeping sea views, while Mexican-inspired bar Cantina Fresca on deck 16 has the best margaritas onboard.

What are the staterooms like? 

With an impressive 2,867 staterooms onboard, there’s plenty of accommodation to choose from and to suit different budgets, from balcony rooms with views across the water or Central Park to luxury suites with wraparound balconies.

For those who fancy a splurge, the abovementioned Suite Neighbourhood offers some of the most luxurious suites Royal Caribbean has ever built, including the all-new Ultimate Family Suite (pictured below). Spread across two floors, the colourful suite features an in-suite slide, climbing maze, piano-key stairs and a private games and movie room, as well as a whirlpool on the balcony. Like Royal Caribbean's other suites, the services of a Royal Genie is also included – who is a mix between a personal butler and ship expert – to create a one-of-a-kind personalised experience for guests. 

READ MORE: The world's most beautiful cruise ships

Family SuiteCourtesy of Royal Caribbean International

What are the best bits? 

I particularly enjoyed visiting the Bionic Bar, a Royal Caribbean favourite that is back and as cool as ever. Two robotic bartenders are ready to mix classic cocktails or custom creations designed by you. Both alcoholic and alcohol-free options are available.

The Solarium (pictured below), an adults-only indoor retreat, was another lovely spot on the ship. The little slice of paradise is split across two levels (deck 14 and 15) near the bow and thanks to its curved shape offers some of the best views from the ship. There’s ample space to relax, alongside pools, hot tubs and a dedicated Solarium Bar. 

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Final thoughts

As a first time cruiser, Wonder of the Seas certainly exceeded my expectations with its sleek and stylish décor, variety of activities, friendly service and first-class food. 

A seasoned cruiser will also have plenty to enjoy onboard, such as Royal Caribbean staples like the Bionic Bar and pool deck, plus some great new features such as the Suite Neighbourhood and The Mason Jar restaurant. With its spectacular new Wonder Playscape and Ultimate Family Suite, the ship caters very well to families, while with its plethora of bars, restaurants and shops onboard, they'll never be a dull moment for the adults either.

Royal Caribbean is offering Mediterranean and Caribbean cruise itineraries for Wonder of the Seas from around £669 ($817.80) per person. Prices are based on a seven-night Western Mediterranean Cruise departing Rome on 9 June 2022 for two people sharing a double interior stateroom and were correct at the time of writing. Wonder of the Seas embarked on its inaugural trip from Barcelona and Rome earlier this month and will set sail to Caribbean shores from Florida's Port Canaveral in November.

Lead image: Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International


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