The world’s largest cruise ship made its European debut in Barcelona last month and it comes with some extras that the other Oasis-class ships don’t have. Sara Macefield takes a look at the highlights
Royal Caribbean International’s newest leviathan Wonder of the Seas carries the crown as the world’s largest cruise ship and it sailed into Barcelona for its European debut last month.
It is the fifth of the line’s giant Oasis-class vessels and has the highest passenger total at 6,988, with the double occupancy tally reaching 5,734, and comes with all the keynote features of its sister ships.
In addition, Wonder of the Seas has a handful of added frills which guests can discover as it embarks on its maiden Mediterranean summer season before sailing to Port Canaveral in November where it will be based for Caribbean and Bahamas voyages.
Capitalising on the success of its signature duplex Loft Suites and innovative Ultimate Family Suite (which has its own slide), RCI has pulled premium accommodation and amenities together in a new Suite Neighborhood. This builds upon the “ship within a ship” concept increasingly evident on new-builds and contains the Coastal Kitchen restaurant and Suite Lounge, established features of previous RCI ships. However, on Wonder this has been expanded with a new spacious private sun deck and bar, scattered with rattan sofas, sunbeds and Balinese daybed pods plus a glass plunge pool and lounging area. Wonder of the Seas has 175 suites, slightly less than Symphony of the Seas which has 189.
The sparkling variety of shows and innovative performances for which RCI Oasis-class ships are renowned is given added impetus on Wonder of the Seas, helped by the latest cutting-edge technology. There are new productions across the ship’s four signature “stages” of air, ice, water and theatre. The open-air AquaTheater showcases its first all-female cast of high divers, swimmers and aerialists in a show called inTENse, while the Studio B ice-rink stages an artistic interpretations of the earth’s changing seasons in 365: The Seasons on Ice. Debuting in the main theatre is a superhero extravaganza entitled The Effectors II: Crash ’n’ Burn and an excellent bespoke musical medley of singing and dancing called Voices. But there is music all around this ship, from a roving pianist on the Stowaway Piano, which randomly appears on different decks, to tribute bands in Music Hall.
Guests can eat their way around the world at more than 20 dining spots, nine of which are complimentary and the remainder charging supplements of up to around £56. Choose from Mexican fare of El Loco Fresh and lobster dishes at Hooked Seafood to the pizzas of Sorrento’s and fine dining at the upscale 150 Central Park. Injecting a dash of America’s Deep South is newest eaterie The Mason Jar where live country music brings a rustic feel to a menu where deep-fried dishes are the order of the day – from fried-green tomatoes and crispy chicken sandwiches to twice-fried Oreos, washed down with “Wet Your Whistle” Southern cocktails.
Youngsters will find plenty to float their boat with a full range of Adventure Ocean kids’ clubs and teen spaces, along with the revamped main deck area dotted with swimming pools, the Splashaway Bay aqua park and largest poolside movie screen in the Royal Caribbean fleet. The vivid colours of a new underwater-themed Wonder Playscape promises to keep little ones amused, along with the adjacent mini-golf course dotted with marine creatures. A full-size carousel on the Boardwalk and lively pirate parades along the Royal Promenade also ramp up the family-friendly tempo.
Intrepid types can hurl themselves down ten decks on the hair-raising Ultimate Abyss slide, splash down the twists and turns of the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides or fly over the Boardwalk on a zipwire. In addition to the sports court for team games, there are twin rock climbing walls, and a FlowRider surfing simulator, along with ice-skating sessions on the ship’s Studio B ice-rink, which is also the venue for energetic glow-in-the-dark laser tag sessions.
Of the 11 bars and lounges, making its debut is The Vue, a colourful new cantilevered pool bar located on Deck 15 which makes it the perfect place from which to catch sunset vistas. Other established favourites include Boleros with its live band and Latino flavour, Cask & Clipper English pub, the novel Rising Tide bar that slowly rises up between decks, and the Bionic Bar where cocktails are mixed by robotic bartenders.