Royal Caribbean hopes biggest will be best when it comes to luring customers back to sea. Its new ship, Wonder of the Seas, is the largest cruise ship afloat at 228,081 tons and measuring 362 metres. At full capacity, it will hold 7,912 passengers. It nudges ahead of Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, which holds up to 6,680 passengers.
“The innovative new ship invites adventurers of all ages to reimagine, explore and make memories once again,” says Royal Caribbean in its press release, introducing the ship and its tagline: “Reimage what’s Possible”.
It’s a bold move as, while the will to cruise is high, many cruisers are still tentative about travelling, particularly on the giga cruise ships. Many cruise lines have been offering vast discounts to passengers in an attempt to make sailings viable.
However Royal Caribbean is confident that its innovative cruise-meets-theme park ships will weather the storm. “The momentum taking off across bookings and our returning ships in the U.S. and Europe is significant,” says Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “With half of our fleet sailing again, we are encouraged by what we’re seeing. These regions are in the position to welcome a brand-new, innovative ship like Wonder of the Seas.”
Brand-new attractions and old favourites retained
Wonder of the Seas will feature eight distinct neighbourhoods, including the all-new Suite Neighbourhood where Royal Suite guests enjoy a Suite Sun Deck, lounge and private restaurant. Also fresh to the ship is the cantilevered pool bar, The Vue. Wonder Playscape also debuts, an interactive, open-air kids’ play area with slides, climbing walls, games and puzzles.
The new ship will retain favourite features from other Royal Caribbean ships. The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, will return, as will Central Park, the lush green neighbourhood featuring real plants. The Caribbean-inspired pool deck experience also remains in place, alongside high speed waterslide, The Perfect Storm, and aqua park Splashaway Bay.
Setting course for the US and Europe
Wonder of the Seas will set sail from Fort Lauderdale to explore the Caribbean from March 4 2022. The cruise ship will then make its way to the Mediterranean, where it will sail from both Barcelona and Rome.
“Wonder will shine bright as the world’s newest wonder in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean,” said Bayley. “And what’s in store is the ultimate vacation experience that highlights the very best of Royal Caribbean, reimagines renowned favourites and introduces new adventures every guest, no matter their age, can enjoy.”
Royal Caribbean strong on digital experience
Royal Caribbean has already shown its ability to push the boundaries. Spectrum of the Seas, launched in 2019, was ahead of the game with digital room keys, immersive augmented reality games and VR trampolining. The ship’s shows also feature immersive technology.
Private island for exclusive Royal Caribbean use
The cruise line also joined the trend for cruises to include visits to private islands. In 2019 Royal Caribbean opened Perfect Day at CocoCay, a $250 million private island in the Bahamas, the first in the Perfect Day Island Collection.
The island is for the exclusive use of the cruise line’s guests and includes a wide range of sporting, adventure and relaxing activities. Highlights include a 1,600 foot long zipline and the chance to float above the island in a tethered helium balloon.