Wonder of the Seas starts sailing with passengers today, marking the first journey with paying guests for what is now the world’s largest cruise ship.
For literally years — even before the health crisis — Royal Caribbean fans have looked forward to the arrival of the new ship. Wonder begins sailing from Fort Lauderdale, but will be in the United States for just a few months before heading back over to Europe for the summer season. Don’t worry if you miss your chance to sail, however. The ship will return in the fall to sail from Port Canaveral.
While the cruise line has revealed plenty of the major highlights about the ship and what passengers can expect, more and more smaller details are being revealed as Wonder makes its debut.
During a recent “Coffee Talk” with travel partners hosted by Vicki Freed — the Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service — members of the Royal Caribbean staff, including the ship’s captain, the cruise director, and the Vice President of Food & Beverage, all shared some insider details about the ship that many people may not know…
The “Kidjammer” Makes Its Debut
Any person that’s sailed aboard Royal Caribbean is familiar with the Windjammer. This is the ship’s buffet where breakfast and lunch are most often eaten.
But Wonder of the Seas has a new twist: Kidjammer.
“The really interesting and fun thing is we’ve added a Kidjammer,” said Linken D’Souza, Vice President of Food & Beverage Operations. “The Kidjammer is a little station that’s at the right height so your kids can come right in and grab their own food. It’s kind of fun. We’ve tried to make the food as playful as possible for the young ones to enjoy, and I think that’s going to be a new, fun introduction to all of our Windjammers moving forward.”
In other words, while Wonder of the Seas may be the first spot with this new feature, don’t expect it to be the last.
Largest Buffet at Sea Ever
Speaking of the Windjammer, it would make sense that the world’s largest cruise ship would also have the largest buffet at sea.
On Wonder of the Seas, the buffet has 1,048 seats, which is roughly 300 seats larger than any other Windjammer in the fleet.
In addition, D’Souza says there are lots of customizable food options like freshly-made wraps, avocado toast at breakfast. There is even a machine serving fresh popcorn.
What the Heck Is “Elvis French Toast”?
A new restaurant on Wonder of the Seas is The Mason Jar, which caters to southern fare like Nashville hot chicken, chicken and waffles, bourbon milkshakes, po-boys, and something called “Elvis French Toast” that should be a popular item at brunch.
What’s that? It’s French toast with banana pudding and served with caramel bacon and bananas.
So if you’re worried about your waistline, then The Mason Jar likely isn’t for you. “This is not the low-calorie restaurant, but I guarantee you every bite is going to be brilliant,” D’Souza said.
No Jazz on 4… Replaced With Golden Room
One popular spot on some other sister ships is Jazz on 4 — a spot to hang out and listen to live music in cozy surroundings. On Wonder of the Seas, that’s been replaced.
That space is now the Golden Room, which is a VIP casino area designed for high-roller customers.
“As some of you may recall, this ship was designed originally for a different market. So we brought that [the Golden Room] here to the U.S. to see how that casino experience does here in the U.S.,” D’Souza said.
But the cruise line isn’t set on leaving that spot if it’s not popular.
“But like always, we’ll follow the market trend. If enough people say ‘where’s the jazz club?’ then we’ll put it back,” added Nick Weir, the Senior Vice President of Royal Entertainment.
Shows Will Continue to Be Upgraded Over Six Months
The spike in Omicron hit the cruise industry just like everything else. One area that was impacted were the shows that were being prepared for Wonder of the Seas. As a result, the productions will continue to be made bigger and better as time goes on.
“Because our studio facility in Miami was somewhat interrupted by Omicron, we are actually going to be creating entertainment on this ship for the next six months and guests who are lucky enough to be with us over the next few months will literally be able to see our shows come to life,” Weir said. “Every night we’ll be adding layers. Every night we’ll be adding scenery and costume.”
For example, a sequel to The Effectors (currently aboard Odyssey of the Seas) will open on Wonder in the summer.
Godmother of Wonder of the Seas? No One Knows Yet
It “normal” times, a ship has a naming ceremony and a godmother chosen before she begins sailing. In this case, however, that’s being pushed off until later in 2022.
There’s no word yet on who the godmother of Wonder of the Seas will be, but it was said that there will be a naming ceremony in December. At that time the ship should be back from sailing Europe and be ported in Port Canaveral.
Astronauts Are Everywhere Around the Ship
If you’re a Royal Caribbean fan, then you know the cruise line likes to incorporate little surprises around the ship. Maybe it’s a fun piece of artwork, or in the case of Oasis of the Seas, the “Small Wonders” viewing stations for you to peek into.
On Wonder of the Seas, there are the astronauts:
— Nick Weir (@NickWeirShowbiz) January 30, 2022
“What’s kind of cool is you have these astronauts,” D’Souza said. “We have these astronauts all over the ship. I think there are nine or twelve, something like that. But you’ve got to go search for them because there are astronauts everywhere.”
Nearly 10,000 People When Completely Full
You already know that Wonder of the Seas is big. But how big? How about nearly 10,000 people when at absolutely full capacity.
According to Captain Rob Hempstead, there are currently 2,184 crew members on the ship. And if the ship is completely full (meaning more than two passengers to some rooms), it can hold 6,988 passengers. Added up, that’s 9,172 people.
Of course, it’s unlikely that ship will be sailing with that many people right at the start. At double occupancy (meaning two passengers to every cabin), 5,734 guests can board.
Here’s the Captain’s Favorite Spot on the Ship…
No person knows Wonder of the Seas as well as the master of the ship, Captain Rob Hempstead. He actually said he has been onboard since October 2021!
So what is his favorite place on the ship? When asked, the captain pointed to Central Park — the green park with winding paths in the middle of the ship.
Speaking about the crossing of the Atlantic from Cadiz to Fort Lauderdale, the captain mentioned how as the weather warmed up he noticed that Central Park “came alive” as flowers bloomed and trees put on leaves.
A Jacuzzi and Virgin Bar for Teens
One of the major draws to sailing is that there is something for everyone. Mom and Dad can hit the Solarium or the casino while kids have their own hangouts.
On Wonder of the Seas, the teen area is Social 100. There, you can expect a hangout lounge area, but also something a little different — there’s a patio for teens, complete with a bar serving non-alcoholic “mocktails” and their own jacuzzi.
Entry is controlled via their SeaPass card that’s programmed to allow them entry. Sorry parents, Wonder of the Seas Cruise Director Mike Szwajkowski says that Mom and Dad can’t get in.
The AquaTheater Show? It’s All Female
If you’ve never experienced a show in the AquaTheater on Oasis-class ships like Wonder of the Seas, then you’re truly missing out. Performers are diving from overhead, walking a tightrope above the audience, doing water acrobatics and more. It’s like nothing else on any other cruise ship.
On Wonder of the Seas, Royal Caribbean says they are taking things to another level. The ship’s newest show is called “InTENse.” Of the 20 performers in the show, for the first time all are women and of those, five have performed in the Olympics.
“It’s an all female cast, but it was completely organic,” entertainment guru Nick Weir said. “We were looking for the most extreme, most brave, most fierce performers we could find, and we just happened to notice as we were auditioning them, they were all girls!”
A little piece of history for us… The is our first ever female #Highliner, 70 feet above the deck, on her first highline walk. #WonderoftheSeas #inTENse, right now. Go Giada! pic.twitter.com/QfEfZq1mPF
— Nick Weir (@NickWeirShowbiz) February 28, 2022
Much More to Experience Aboard Wonder
Of course, all of these details are just the icing on the cake. The main attraction is the ship itself, and all the things that can be packed onto a vessel that’s larger than any other cruise liner in history.
From stunning suites, dozens of bars and restaurants, lounges, entertainment venues and more, Wonder of the Seas looks to set the bar higher again when it comes to what’s possible on a cruise ship. (We’ve covered more on what’s onboard here.)
As mentioned, the ship begins sailing from Fort Lauderdale before heading over to Europe for the summer. Wonder of the Seas then returns to Florida later in 2022, where the ship will sail from Port Canaveral.
If you’re a Royal Caribbean fan, it looks to be another ship that you don’t want to miss.