Wonder of the Seas is the setting for this year's Doctor Who cruise. Credit: Royal Caribbean

Wonder of the Seas cruise ship review - First look onboard the world's biggest cruise ship

Author: Dave Monk

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Big, bold and beautiful, onboard the world’s biggest cruise ship Wonder of the Seas, Dave Monk is suitably impressed.

Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas is currently the world's largest cruise ship and set sail from Barcelona on May 4, 2022 - and we are all dying to know what it's like.

The statistics are impressive to say the least - 6,988 guests, 2,300 crew, 18 decks, 24 guest elevators, 11 bars and lounges as well as 20 restaurants.

You'll never be stuck for things to do onboard Wonder of the Seas, with the pool deck featuring high-speed waterslides and a poolside movie screen as well as evening acrobatic performances in the Aquatheatre.

Luckily for you, we have the inside scoop as Dave Monk gives his thoughts on the mighty ship after getting onboard.

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First impressions count

As I walk along deck 15, I have some incredible views. Not just of the gentle waves and the glowing evening sky as the sun sets, but way below me where Central Park and the Boardwalk are lighting up.

I’m off the coast of Spain on Wonder of the Seas, the fifth Oasis-class ship from Royal Caribbean and the proud owner of the title of the biggest cruise ship in the world.

- READ MORE: Your guide to Royal Caribbean cruises -

Originally destined for China, Covid intervened and she instead made her debut in Florida in March. Now she’s reached the Mediterranean, where I boarded in Barcelona.

Big doesn’t even begin to describe her size – Wonder of the Seas is 1,188ft long, 210ft wide and has 17 passenger decks. At double occupancy, she carries 5,734 passengers - 6,988 if every berth is used - along with 2,300 crew. But Wonder of the Seas dazzles with far more than statistics.

Admire the all-women team of dancers and acrobats who perform at the Aquatheatre. Credit: Royal Caribbean

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Wonder of the Seas entertainment

One night I settle in the AquaTheater at the stern of the ship to enjoy a high-energy show by an all-women team of dancers and acrobats, diving from as high as 55ft or seeming to fly above the audience’s heads on lines and harnesses.

A guest male performer flips and spins on a slackline suspended above the pool, spraying water everywhere. Another international act juggles a dazzling number of balls effortlessly.

- READ MORE: Wonder of the Seas cruise ship in facts & figures -

Other shows around the ship include an impressive display of coordinated drumming and tap dancing called Tap Factory and a moving musical production called Voices: An Intimate Performance on a Grand Scale, which celebrates the full range of human vocal powers.

Singers on stage seamlessly sync with performers on screen, who produce all the backing sounds of beats, clicks and rhythm so no instrument needs to be involved.

Grab a bite to eat at The Mason Jar onboard Wonder of the Seas. Credit: Royal Caribbean

Down on the ice rink in Studio B on deck 4 is 365: The Seasons On Ice, a story of the changing times of the year. And later this year, Royal Caribbean’s own superheroes, The Effectors, return for a show in the Royal Theater where they battle with their archnemesis Crash and his new sidekick Burn.

The evolution that began with the launch of Oasis of the Seas in 2009 has produced a series of floating resorts increasingly packed with new attractions, such as the Ultimate Abyss dry slide first introduced on Harmony of the Seas.

- READ MORE: Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas sets sail -

What's different about Wonder of the Seas?

I’ve been on three of the previous Oasis-class ships and never cease to be amazed by the scale and engineering feats they involve.

New features for Wonder of the Seas include The Mason Jar, an American South restaurant serving comfort food such as fried green tomatoes, shrimp’n’grits, chicken pot pie, ribs and burgers - all while a house band belts out country music. The bar is stocked with 19 US whiskeys to wash it down.

The Suite Sun Deck enjoys its new location with a plunge pool and bar. Credit: Royal Caribbean

The Vue Bar on the port side is a new popular al fresco drinking venue near the all-weather, adult-only solarium, matching up with The Lime & Coconut bar further along the deck.

Another new addition is the Wonder Playscape, an underwater-themed play area that provides outdoor fun for youngsters, with slides, climbing walls, games and interactive activities. Mini-golf course Wonder Dunes has also been given a makeover.

- READ MORE: What to know about Royal Caribbean ship cabins -

However, probably the most significant change on Wonder of the Seas is a new, eighth ‘neighbourhood’ that’s been designed exclusively for suite guests.

It’s following a trend to give more space and comfort to the higher-paying customers. The Suite Sun deck, with a plunge pool and bar, has been moved, but restaurant Coastal Kitchen and the Suite Lounge remain.

The Ultimate Family Suite now sleeps up to ten people and is still occupied while I am on board by guests who had sailed the transatlantic crossing. The other top accommodation, the Royal Loft Suite, is booked until autumn even with a hefty price tag of $40,000 a week.

Enjoy delicious food at El Loco Fresh, one of the many complimentary venues. Credit: Royal Caribbean

‘It’s our upper-end space that sells first,’ says Ben Bouldin, vice-president EMEA of Royal Caribbean. But he denies that other passengers are missing out, adding: ‘The goal of introducing more suites is not at the expense of anybody else on the ship.’

Wonder of the Seas food and drinks

Every guest has the choice of eating In the main dining room or other complimentary venues such as the Park, Vitality and Promenade cafes, El Loco Fresh - DIY Mexican tacos, burritos and quesadillas - and the Solarium Bistro, where I enjoy a healthy lunchtime salad.

One evening I walk into the Windjammer buffet just as it is being set up for dinner and am entranced by a tempting assortment of meats, fish, fruits, vegetables and desserts.

- READ MORE: What to expect on Royal Caribbean's private island -

Among the specialty restaurants are venues serving steaks, Italian, seafood, sushi and burgers - along with a popular Starbucks outlet too.

Aside from the robots in the Bionic Bar, human cocktail makers can be found in ten other bars and lounges, including an English pub, the Cask & Clipper, in the two-level shopping and dining mall, Royal Promenade.

An enlarged karaoke bar is a throwback to when the ship was heading to China.

Enjoy the many venues that greet you as you saunter down the Boardwalk. Credit: Royal Caribbean

Wonder of the Seas spaces

Many favourites have returned from previous Oasis-class ships, such as the Flowrider surf machine, Perfect Storm water chutes and outdoor movie screen.

With its wooden carousel and Zoltan fortune-telling machine, the Boardwalk conjures up memories of an English pier, To one side is Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade. And for anyone wanting to catch the Mediterranean sun, there are pools, hot tubs and loungers all around the top decks.

- READ MORE: Which cruise lines are best for children? -

Those who have travelled on Royal Caribbean ships before may have met the stowaway pianist, who pops up in the unlikeliest of places, such as the lifts.

Meanwhile, lovers of Latin sounds should head to Boleros while the Music Hall hosts tribute acts and DJ sets, and anyone wanting a laugh can try out The Attic Comedy Club on deck 4.

One of the delights of a new ship is checking out the artwork and Wonder of the Seas has an eye-catching variety from astronaut figures, a two-headed seahorse dangling between the lifts and a giant steel stetson sat in the Royal Promenade.

One of the stops on Norwegian Viva's Mediterranean cruise is the beautiful city of Naples. Credit: Shutterstock

This summer Wonder of the Seas will be sailing seven-night Western Mediterranean cruises to destinations such as Naples and Florence in Italy, Palma de Mallorca in Spain and Provence, France. After finishing the inaugural European season, she will return to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to offer year-round Caribbean sailings.

A sixth Oasis-class ship, Utopia of the Seas, is due to join the fleet in 2024 and there are rumours of a seventh Oasis-class ship too.

My overall impression? It’s bigger, better and even brighter - but you need plenty of time to fully appreciate it.

- READ MORE: Everything you need to know about inside cabins -

Whatever the future holds, this ship will be a thing of Wonder for years to come.

Get Onboard

7-night ‘Western Mediterranean’ cruise on Wonder of the Seas, round trip from Rome via Naples, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Marseille and La Spezia, departing 29 September 2022, from £770.

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