We’re gonna need a bigger ocean. To paraphrase Roy Scheider’s character in “Jaws,” that’s what I thought when I saw the sheer massiveness of Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world.
We were on the inaugural cruise of the ship and spent a week in one of the 2,868 staterooms. My favorite part of the ship was the Solarium, a glass-enclosed two-story adults-only section with gorgeous views of the water, several hot tubs and a bar that served a delicious frozen mojito.
After spending seven glorious days on board, we are sharing our seven best things about Wonder of the Seas.
State Rooms: Spacious and Serene
I really loved the way our stateroom was designed and appreciated having a desk area and a spacious balcony. The bathroom was really pretty and seemed laid out better than cruise ships I’d sailed on before.
The bed was sooo comfortable and the nightstand was sufficient to place items there and had a place to charge our devices. We didn’t really watch TV on board, but had a flat screen on the wall facing the bed. It could also be angled so you could watch it from the couch.
We each had a closet, which was large enough for me to hang my dresses. I ran out of hangars though and stashed a few things in Chris’s closet. I put other items on the shelves in the closet and the drawers on the other side of the room.
There was plenty of space to unpack everything and we could stash our suitcases by the corner of the couch so they weren’t in our way.
The bathroom also had plenty of shelves to unpack and store toiletries. The shower was plenty big, had instant hot water and fantastic water pressure. There’s a retractable clothesline for drying bathing suits.
My favorite part of our room was the balcony, which had two chairs with separate ottomans and a small table. We could hear our neighbors occasionally but couldn’t see them.
We had housekeeping service every day from the lovely Delores, who also left us cute little towel animals, a fun part of every cruise.
If you’re in the Royal Suite class you’ll have access to your own restaurant, deck, pool and bar with access to other amenities.
See our related story: River Cruise Versus Ocean Cruise [Which is Right for You?]
The Food and Specialty Restaurants: Soft Shell Crab, Souffles and Southern Cooking
The main dining area, the Windjammer, is huge on the Wonder of the Seas. With 1.048 seats, it has 300 more than any other Windjammer. We never had a problem finding a seat or waited for food for more than a few minutes.
There are plenty of sinks at the entrance along with staff requesting you in smiling sing-songy voices to “washy, washy.” A row of serpentine-shaped, colorful sofas are at the center of the entrance providing a place to wait for others.
There are eight other places for complimentary food, including Sorrento’s for pizza, El Loco Fresh for Mexican, Boardwalk Dog House and Park Café for paninis, sandwiches, salads and breakfast items.
One of my first missions was the find where we could grab coffee in the mornings as I want (need) it first thing in the morning. We headed to Café Promenade, which is open 24 hours a day and has to-go cups.
We had dinner in the Main Dining Room a few times and enjoyed the service. The best things I had were the poblano soup, onion soup and Grand Marnier Souffle – all fantastic. A few other items were missable, like the seafood pastry.
Chris recently found out he is lactose-intolerant and when the server was informed after asking about food issues, was quite accommodating about alternative dishes or leaving off the cream on some.
We ordered room service for breakfast one day to enjoy on our balcony. We got a call just prior to the delivery, which I appreciated, and the food was served hot and delicious.
If you don’t mind spending some extra money, there are 10 specialty restaurants and a Starbucks if you can’t go a week without your latte fix.
We dined at three of them and enjoyed every meal, although I do have a favorite. The soft-shelled crab at the seafood restaurant Hooked was really delicious, and I didn’t think I liked it. I also loved the grilled lobster I had one night as part of the surf and turf. Don’t miss the jalapeno cheese biscuits. Chris found another beer at Hooked he liked, Stone IPA.
Our first night we had dinner at Central Park, an elegant restaurant where I started the meal with a delicious Urban Garden martini. I enjoyed a scallop appetizer, lamb wellington as an entrée with fried cheesecake for dessert, which was served in small balls of creamy yumminess.
I was a little skeptical prior to our brunch at The Mason Jar Southern Restaurant & Bar. I’m from the South and have lived there my entire life and traveled through it extensively so know what southern cooking should look and taste like.
Well, they nailed the southern concept. As soon as I walked in and saw the front porch swing, I knew they had done their homework. The pimento cheese came with saltines, the cornbread was unbelievably delicious and they had yummy deviled eggs.
Chris had a shrimp po boy and I tried the blueberry johnny cakes, cornmeal flatbreads with pulled pork on top. The dish was on the small side, but quite tasty.
We weren’t able to dine in some of the other restaurants, Including Wonderland, Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen or Izumi, which serves traditional Asian cuisine.
Tips for Dining in Specialty Restaurants on Wonder of the Seas
1. Book as early as you can for places you know you want to dine. These restaurants fill up fast.
2. If you can’t get a reservation, drop by and see if there are any openings. We did that at Hooked one day at lunch time and were seated right away.
3. If you can’t dine in one of these restaurants but want to see it, check to see if there are any openings at the bar where you can order a drink and perhaps an appetizer.
Bars and Lounges: Robot Drinks, Ocean Views, Bar on the Move
You’re never too far from your next drink on Wonder of the Seas, which has 13 bars and lounges, each with their own theme. Two of these are new to Royal Caribbean. We had a drinks package so were free to sample drinks from as many as we liked.
Located just outside the entrance to the Solarium, The Vue Bar has spectacular views of the water and is a popular place. Partially covered by a canopy, parts of the bar do get a bit warm during the day.
Get your margarita fix at Cantina Fresca, which serves Mexican-inspired drinks, including agua frescas, and is conveniently located by El Loco Fresh. When you’re ready for run check out The Lime & Coconut. Bet you’re humming the Harry Nilsson song now, aren’t you?
Other bars include the Bionic Bar, where two robots mix drinks, and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade where Chris found his favorite beer on the boat, Hopsecutioner from Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, Georgia.
After seeing the towering stack of onion rings served here (for an additional fee), we had to get an order of our own. Definitely worth the calories.
We’re not late-night people but one night on the way back to our room we stopped in the Schooner Bar and enjoyed hearing the piano player while sipping on a nightcap.
I regret we never visited the Rising Tide Bar, which travels between decks. About 25 people can enter on the Promenade Deck (5) or Central Park (8) and slowly move up and down between the decks.
Staying Fit: Surfing, Salsa and Strengthening
We are pretty active people and fortunately, there’s plenty of opportunity to get exercise on the ship. As a Fitbit fanatic, I never needed to worry about getting my daily quote of steps.
I looked at the Cruise Campass every day and found free dance classes. These included yoga, stretch, line dance, Latin and salsa. I believe I made it to every Latin and salsa class, which were really fun and lasted about 45 minutes.
The gym is quite large and Chris was excited about the weights and equipment they had there. His morning routine was to go to the gym then stop by Vitality Café on the way out to get a fancy juice. There is a charge for these unless you have the drink package, which fortunately, we did.
Other fitness opportunities include pickleball, basketball, rock climbing wall, FlowRider simulated surfing and ice skating. You could also walk around the promenade on the perimeter of Deck 5.
The Entertainment: Spectacular and Intense
We enjoyed hearing live music at several of the bars, in Central Park, in the Royal Promenade, and even in the elevator car where you may come across a lively piano player who sings to you as you zip between floors in the evenings.
Our favorite was Travesia, the band at Boleros, where I managed to get Chris up on the dance floor to sway his hips to the Latin beat.
You can also enjoy Big Band music, classical guitar, country, jazz, classic rock and whatever tunes a guest has picked to croon in the karaoke bar.
But the highlight of the week when it comes to entertainment were the amazing shows, with the “Ice Spectacular: 365” taking top honors. These 12 skaters, who had only three weeks to practice, swirled, jumped, leapt and spun around the small rink.
There seemed to be more costume changes than a Cher concert, and they contained beacons so spotlights would automatically track their movements. Very cool.
The theme of the show was loosely based on the four seasons. The first number was to the tune of The Beatles “Here Comes the Sun” with the poignant lyrics that include:
It’s been a long, cold lonely winter
It feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun
The smiles returning to the faces
Is there any more fitting number to describe emerging from two years of the pandemic?
The whole show felt like pure joy, the costumes were spectacular and I definitely felt like the sun was out again.
We also got a preview of “InTENse,” the new show in the AquaTheater, an outdoor amphitheater built around a 14-foot pool that the 20 female performers dove, flipped and kicked in. In one number two performers balanced and flipped on a slackline – I’ve never seen anything quite like it and it definitely lived up to its name.
I loved Tap Factory, a fast-paced explosion of energy with wonderful dancing. Even Chris, not always a big dance fan, really loved it.
I was a bit hesitant when I walked into “Voices” a few minutes late and heard a cheesy joke, but the choreography and music really grabbed me as the production paid tribute to songs from several decades. The level of musical and dancing talent on cruise ships is astonishing to me.
Our friend has a son in musical theater in New York and he told us these jobs are highly sought after by the theater crowd.
During the show, huge faces of people who worked on it were projected behind the performers, a facet of the show that I found distracting and too much like those Zoom-box people we’ve been starting at for two years.
We also enjoyed the comedy show one night. Although we didn’t have a reservation there was plenty of room in the balcony.
The Solarium: Killer Views, Hot Tubs and Healthy Fare
Other than sleeping in our beautiful stateroom, I spent most of my hours onboard in the Solarium, by far my favorite space on the ship.
Almost every Royal Caribbean ship has one of these adults-only spaces, although size may vary by the class of ship. Some have pools, while others have hot tubs. Some have retractable roofs.
The Solarium on Wonder of the Seas is a large area at the forward of the ship on decks 15 and 16. I knew I’d found my happy place the minute I walked in and saw the huge windows that wrap around the space with gorgeous views.
There are several hot tubs, hundreds of lounge chairs, bar, and the Solarium Bistro in the center on deck 16. We ate several meals here and a few nights had a drink and an appetizer before going to the main dining room for dinner – yes, I’m not ashamed to say we pregamed dinner. I especially loved the avocado toast for breakfast.
After exploring San Juan one afternoon, we came back to the Solarium where I enjoyed a delicious frozen mojito – the best mixed drink of the week. I’m typically not much of a day drinker as it makes me sleepy, but I made an exception that day.
We soaked in one of the hot tubs a few times, which is even more relaxing when you have an ocean view. (And a drink in your hand.)
There was an issue with people plopping their towels down for a front-row seat then disappearing for hours, but I was always able to find a spot to sit.
The area is adults-only and we didn’t see any violators during our trip. Speaking of kids, we weren’t traveling with any, but this is one of the most family-friendly ships I’ve seen other than Disney. There’s a huge play area on the sports deck called Wonder Playscape, mini golf course, large water play area by one of the pools, two waterslides and one other slide and a wonderful complimentary youth and teen club for ages 3-17.
Although we couldn’t enter the teen area, being over 17, we took a peek inside and saw several teens playing games one night.
Central Park: Peace, Plants and Patios on Wonder of the Seas
Found on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class ships, Central Park is a lovely area lined with shops, restaurants and bars. On deck 8 of Wonder of the Seas, Central Park is filled with 20,000 live plants and has several tranquil seating areas. During a light rain shower I took a seat on one of the brightly colored Adirondack chairs outside of 150 Central Park and enjoyed the quiet.
While I didn’t mind having a lot of people around me in the Solarium, sometimes I like to hang out on my own somewhere quiet. Central Park was that spot for me.
I walked through Central Park many times during the week and it was never very crowded. Some of the specialty restaurants are here, with romantically lit patios in the evenings.
Caring for the Community
Kudos to Royal Caribbean and the company’s efforts to support local communities, including in the Bahamas. These include Bahamas Feeding, which partners with 114 organizations to serve thousands of meals a month, and LJM Maritime Academy, which trains students to become officers on ships. Royal Caribbean Group funds scholarships and offers jobs to graduates.
Royal Caribbean has also provided funds to the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre. One success story is Cherelle Cartwright, who started Mama Sassy’s Gourmet foods. She received grant money to test her line of pepper jams and jellies and then won a contest to have products on Royal Caribbean ships.
Fun Facts About Wonder of the Seas
• Wonder of the Seas can hold up to 6,988 guests. It is 1,188 feet long and 210 feet wide.
• There were 2200 crew members from 78 countries the week we sailed.
• The ship was originally going to be sailing in China and all the signs were in Mandarin.
• It will travel to Barcelona for the summer season then back to Florida.
• There are 18 decks, 24 elevators and 2,867 staterooms.
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