This particular NInja had never been on a cruise before and, to be honest, always had some reservations about the prospect. Concerns ranged from the thought of feeling claustrophobic to travel sick and, well, just a bit bored generally. However, when the opportunity arose to stay on Royal Caribbean’s new ship Wonder of the Seas as she made her European debut – and after two years of not being able to go anywhere (cheers Covid) – it was an opportunity too good to resist.
As it turns out not all cruise ships are made equally. And Wonder of the Seas is the world’s largest. Standing at a statuesque 236 feet above the water, measuring 1,188 feet long and 210 feet wide and with a total of 18 decks means, that on paper, she’s certainly impressive. But we still weren’t quite convinced…
But in the spirit of saying yes to new things we decided to give it a go. Flights were booked, bags were packed and Covid tests were taken (Royal Caribbean currently requires that all travellers over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated and all guests aged two and up must produce a negative test before sailing).
A two hour flight to Barcelona and a short taxi ride later and we were ready to embark. At our first sight of the ship it was hard not to be blown away by the sheer size of Wonder of the Seas. She can hold an unbelievable 6,988 guests plus 2,300 crew and pretty much over shadowed everything else in the dock.
Boarding was an easy and straightforward process and on entering the ship’s interior our first thought was it was like being in an enormous shopping centre, albeit a very luxurious one. Deck 5, or The Royal Promenade, is full of shops, restaurants, and bars. More than that, it is also packed full of visual appeal. You’ll see huge vases filled with fresh flowers, high ceilings, statement lighting. Oh and there’s also a Ford Mustang and an enormous silver cowboy hat planked in the middle. Because, why not?
With fears of feeling claustrophobic rapidly reducing by the minute we made our way to our room – an exterior stateroom with a balcony. Again the room was much larger than we had imagined with plenty of wardrobe and drawer space to unpack. Plus a Queen size bed and spacious shower. But really there was far too much to see and do on this ship to be spending much time in the room so, with our new-found sea legs, we were off to explore.
When it comes to describing the activities onboard Wonder of the Seas it’s hard to know where to start. There’s (deep breath) two swimming pools, whirlpools, surf board simulators, a zip-line, water slides, mini golf, rock climbing walls and The Ultimate Abyss. What’s The Ultimate Abyss we hear you ask? Well it’s the tallest slide at sea. A twisty, turny, helter-skelter of a ride that plummets you down 10 floors in a matter of seconds. And in case that hasn’t sold it to you, it’s actually quite fun. Apparently. Inside the ship has a running track, a spa with more than 28 rooms, a gym, an ice skating rink, and a basketball court. So, as it turns out, it didn’t look like boredom would be an issue either.
While it may sound like a cliché there really is something for all ages on Wonder of the Seas – from the adults-only space of the Solarium to the children’s play area at SplashAway Bay and Social 100, a section for 13-17 year olds. There’s also plenty of first-class entertainment. With
Wonder of the Seas Royal Caribbean have set out to captivate audiences across the four stages of air, ice, water and theatre. With more than 100 performers, you’ll discover dare-devil stunts, olympic athletes and cutting-edge technology that’s hard to take your eyes off.
And while we’re on the subject of clichés we quickly found out why people say you put on weight on a cruise. With more than 40 restaurants and bars to choose from, the selection on this ship was staggering. Speciality restaurants include Hooked Seafood, Giovanni’s Italian, Johnny Rockets and Chops Grille. The main dining room offers old school elegance and gives a flavour of traditional fine-dining cruise cuisine but it was the WindJammer restaurant that really blew us away (excuse pun). We’re generally not a fan of the buffet-style restaurants you get at an all-inclusive resort but this was just something else. Fresh food stations lined the entire room with lunch choices including carved meats, fresh breads, salads, pasta, burgers and hot dogs – you name it. There’s also a designated children’s food section to suit fussy eaters.
On Deck 5 there’s even a Starbucks for those who need their daily matcha fix. And if it’s a late night snack you’re after Sorrento’s serves up pizza till 3am. No less impressive (and the reason you may need a late night snack) is the ship’s drinks’ selection. Cocktail enthusiasts and craft beer aficionados can happily work their way through the menu in the Cask & Clipper or let robots serve them up something special at the ship’s Bionic Bar. There’s also a karaoke bar, a music bar, two casinos and a comedy club. Oh and if you’ve had a few drinks and feel like the floor is moving then it just might be as The Rising Tide bar gently ascends and descends through the ship’s decks.
The ship has eight distinctive neighbourhoods and one of our favourites was Central Park. A leafy suburb with more than 20,000 real plants and pavement bars and restaurants. Sitting in this area it was very easy to forget you were on a massive ship in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. There are interior staterooms that look out into the centre of the ship’s interior and while having a sea
view room was blissful we can very much see the appeal of sitting on your balcony with a cup of coffee or glass of wine and people watching (ok so we’re nosey).
Every aspect of this ship has been carefully considered from both a practical and visual perspective. Contemporary art lines the hallways and communal spaces and you’ll even find a gallery space. All areas are kept spotlessly clean and there are numerous sanitisation stations
situated by elevators and entrances to the restaurants. While the pace of life at sea may be laidback and relaxed the service on board was outstanding, with attentive staff always at hand to help. And despite the ship’s size we soon found our bearings – 24 guest elevators and interactive maps make getting to where you need to go easy.
The strangest thing about being on a cruise is probably the fact that you forget you are, until you look out a window. Forty-eight hours on Wonder of the Seas was a drop in the ocean in terms of experiencing all this incredible ship has to offer but it definitely gave us a taste for cruise life and left us wanting more …. maybe we need to give a Caribbean cruise a whirl now? (*dreams of sailing to white sand beaches)
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