Wondering what it’s like to cruise on the world’s largest cruise ship? Well here is our Wonder of the Seas review based on our own experience of this incredible ship in September 2023.
We were booked on the seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary from Port Canaveral. This takes in Coco Cay, Cozumel, Roatan and Costa Maya.
What you will read in this review are our own personal opinions on what Wonder of the Seas offers based on comparisons with other ships we have sailed on over the last 30 years or so.
Some reviews you might see are based on paid “press trips” that the reviewers receive free of charge. That is not the case here as this cruise was booked on our own dollar with no compensation or any benefits received at all. So this is a 100% accurate review with no bias.
This article will be an “overview” review and we will get into some more detailed areas in separate articles as the ship is huge! You could easily write a book reviewing everything that Wonder of the Seas has to offer, but we’ll try to keep this review manageable and easy to read.
Here is what we are going to cover in our Wonder of the Seas cruise ship review.
Table of Contents – Wonder of The Seas Review
Wonder of the Seas Review – The Embarkation Process
Embarkation Day is always exciting and can feel a bit hectic. Back in the day, it always seemed to take a long time to board the ship. But if there is one benefit from Covid, it is that the cruise lines are now managing crowd control a lot better.
You can check in for your cruise about 30 or so days before. You’ll receive an email from Royal Caribbean telling you when you can start that process using Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s online app.
When you do the check-in you will be assigned an arrival time at the port. We managed to snag an early boarding time of 10:30 am
We were staying at a (relatively) local hotel overnight (Hyatt Place Titusville) and I had booked car parking for the duration of our cruise with “Park Port Canaveral“. We arrived at the car park at 9:40 and were on the shuttle by 9:50 heading across to the cruise terminal.
If you are looking for a place to stay near Port Canaveral I recommend searching on Booking.com
As soon as we got off the shuttle, porters were on had to take our checked luggage.
Top Tip: Always use the Plastic “Tagsaver” type luggage tag protectors on your luggage. This ensures there is no danger of the paper tag falling off before it makes its way to your cabin!
By the time we walked through the drop-off area and up into the departure hall, it was only about 10:05, so we were a little early. That didn’t cause any problems and once our documents were checked we were directed to a seating area to await boarding to begin.
Boarding began at 10:15, and we only had to wait about 5 minutes in the seating area until it was our turn to start heading up the gangway onto the largest ship in the world.
So far so good! A very easy and smooth embarkation process for a ship that holds almost 7000 passengers at full occupancy!
First Impressions of the Largest Cruise Ship In the World
You can’t help but be impressed by the sheer size of this oasis-class cruise ship. It is the largest cruise ship in the World after all. Well, it is until Icon of the Seas is launched!
At the port, there were three other ships sailing that day: MSC Seaside, Disney Fantasy, and Marella Discovery (formerly the Splendour of the Seas which I had sailed on in the past).
Wonder of the Seas dwarfed these other ships, and you can’t help but feel a sense of smugness looking down on these smaller ships, it’s just human nature.
When you head up the gangway you actually enter the ship directly onto the Royal Promenade, so you instantly get a sense of the scale of the ship. It’s massive!
Once you head up on deck, however, you really appreciate how big this ship is when you look down onto the Central Park and Boardwalk areas. It’s absolutely incredible.
Wonder of the Seas Cruise Muster Drill
On arrival into the Royal Promenade, a very smiley and attentive crew member (take note Carnival Pride staff!) greeted us warmly and then directed us up to our muster station to complete our safety briefing.
This is generally the best thing to do when you get on board, as it gets it over and done with. They just need to confirm you have watched the safety briefing videos in the Royal Caribbean App and then they scan your Seapass card to complete the process.
This was all good, except that when we got to the muster station (which was outside the Royal Theater) there were no crew members there. While it is nice to get on the ship early, it can mean that the crew is playing catch-up from the disembarkation process of the previous cruise passengers, and this was the case here.
We could have gone and amused ourselves elsewhere, but we decided to just chill on a couple of nice comfy sofas and wait for the crew to appear. Sure enough, ten minutes later they arrived and we got checked off.
Staterooms are not scheduled to be ready until after 1 p.m., so it was time to find a nice spot up on the pool deck and grab a nice chilled drink.
Our Interior Stateroom on Wonder of the Seas
Being the canny Scots that we are, we booked an interior “Guaranteed” cabin and we were assigned stateroom number 7455 on deck 7 forward.
This proved to be a fantastic location and I would definitely try to get a similar position when choosing a cabin.
The stateroom was easily the biggest interior cabin we have ever had and there was tons of storage.
The shower room was spacious as well. My only gripe was the size of the sink, which was a bit small.
You can read our Wonder of the Seas Interior room review for detailed information on the stateroom and its facilities.
One thing to note. Royal is no longer leaving a paper copy of the Cruise Compass in cabins. They encourage you to instead use Royal’s app or download a digital copy of the cruise compass.
[RELATED POST: Wonder of the Seas Interior Room Review]
Wonder of the Seas General Cleanliness
In this post-Covid era, cruise ship cleanliness is vital for avoiding germs spreading like wildfire through a ship’s guests and crew.
Thankfully Royal Caribbean has continued with many cleaning protocols introduced both prior and after COVID-19 to help combat outbreaks of COVID-19 and other viruses like norovirus.
The “Washy Washy” team member and the wash areas outside the main Windjammer buffet lunch area is a prime example. This was actually introduced to ships prior to the Covid pandemic in 2020. We first saw “Washy Washy” stations on Empress of the Seas in 2019.
Onboard cleanliness on Wonder was very good in my opinion with one exception. The hand sanitizing stations. Frequently we would find these empty.
In fact on Deck 7 forward, the port-side hand sanitizer station was either empty or faulty for our entire cruise. This was despite us reporting it three times.
I think that this is an important point. Covid is still pretty prevalent on cruise ships – just look at the reports on Facebook groups after a cruise and you will read many reports of guests falling ill either during or shortly after their cruise.
You can read reports on Cruise Ship cleanliness on the CDC’s website. Cruise ships are inspected regularly and on its most recent inspection, Wonder of the Seas had a score of 95 out of 100. Anything 85 or below is deemed unacceptable.
Wonder of the Seas Deck Plans and Layout – Slightly different from other Oasis-class cruise ships
Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas is the fifth Oasis-class ship, so it is no wonder that some deck layout changes will have been made since the original Oasis of the Seas.
However, it is fair to say that if you have sailed on any of the Oasis-class ships before like Odyssey of the Seas, you will be instantly familiar with the layout.
Any key layout changes have been limited to locations of shipboard venues or additions like the new Mason Jar Restaurant and Bar on Wonder.
If, however, your cruise experiences have been limited to smaller ships in the fleet, then you are going to need a fair bit of orientation to find your way around the ship.
There are lots of elevators on the ship and we rarely had to wait long, even at busy times.
There are also lots of information panels on board to help guide you around the ship. Apart from the occasional “What end of the ship are we at?” confusion, it was actually remarkably easy to get around.
We did put a lot of steps in every day though!
The Pool Areas on Wonder
If you like to sit by the pool area when cruising, you are in for a treat. You are spoiled for choice with no less than 5 main pool areas.
You have a large pool in the adults-only solarium at the front of the ship. There is a kid’s pool area and a “Beach” pool on either side mid-ship and then the two main pools on either side of the deck beyond that.
No Quiet Pool Areas
Now this is where I think Royal has missed an opportunity.
Why not have a “quiet” pool area on the deck?
Sure the solarium is meant to be quieter, but it has a lively bar, and with the whirlpools, voices can get a bit elevated. The ceiling material causes lots of echoes so it actually gets really noisy in there. And it’s warm! Despite being climate-controlled it was too warm for us.
With the sheer size of the deck area, I can’t see why Royal cannot allocate one-half of the pools as “quiet” areas.
The noise on the ship was incessant and we had to find a tucked away corner of deck 17 (just outside the rear door of Hooked Seafood) to get away from the “Muzack” or loud poolside performers and bands.
I mean even “the fun ships” of Carnival cruise line do this, so why can’t Royal?
Lots of Sun Loungers!
One of the good things about the pool area was that it was always easy to find a sun lounger on the pool deck or sun deck. We never ever had any problems and always saw lots of empty spaces. That’s a first on any cruise ship I have been on.
The Royal Promenade
The Royal promenade was a really nice area and was clearly the entertainment hub of the ship. In this area, you can find bars like the Cask and Clipper Pub, Schooner Bar, Boleros, Rising Tide, and the futuristic Bionic Bar.
You can also grab some food at Sorrento’s and Cafe Promenade.
While this was a great area, I found the openness of some of the bars caused the noise to spill into other bars and entertainment areas on that deck.
For example, the Schooner bar has one side open to the promenade below. When you were in here you could easily hear the entertainment from Boleros at the opposite end of the promenade. So if you wanted to relax and chat quietly in a bar, you had to pick your times wisely.
If there was a show in the Promenade itself, there was no way of getting away from it – you would need to head to the Boardwalk or Central Park.
At one point we were listening to our amazing piano player Andy C, but could hear Latin music in the background. It was a little annoying and I do wonder why they didn’t enclose the bars a bit more to avoid that spillover.
Another strange venue is the Karaoke Bar. This is actually quite a small bar and was always totally crowded whenever anything was happening in there. Daily trivia was held in there and you could rarely find a seat.
Now if you were looking for a relaxing spot on the ship, this was it. It’s a tranquil oasis. You can relax with a drink at the Trellis bar or Giovanni’s wine bar or grab a bit to eat at the Park Cafe.
At night, they kept the entertainment here a bit lower key with guitar instrumentals or a small band. I loved this part of the ship.
Another favorite area of mine was the Boardwalk. The Playmakers Sports Bar seemed a perfect alternative to the Cask and Clipper pub or Schooner Bar. This was a proper sports bar which also served some nice food here.
You can also get a Pitcher of Beer here for just $18 which was a great saving. And amazingly, they allowed me to use one of my Diamond Vouchers towards this – so I got a Pitcher of Beer for four bucks!
This is where you will find the Dog House, the Sugar Beach candy store, Johnny Rockets, and the very popular Carousel.
Review of Wonder of the Seas Bars and Bar Service
There is no shortage of bars on Wonder of the Seas and at no time did I ever have to wait long to get served. The bar staff were great and always friendly.
A couple of times I would order a bucket of beers (this isn’t wildly advertised but you get 5 beers for the price of 4) and they would be out of the buckets.
Each time that happened, they handed me a chilled beer, which they didn’t charge me for as they went on their quest to find a bucket!
The Mason Jar is a particularly nice bar. Arrive early and you can claim one of the rocking chairs looking out on the best view from the ship.
A Review of Dining and Specialty Restaurants
Full disclosure: we did not do any specialty dining on board. So I can’t give an objective review of any of the specialty restaurants like Chops Grille, Wonderland, or the Mason Jar. Sorry.
However, we did pop into the Wonderland during service and the presentation of the food looked outstanding!
Main Dining Room
As far as the main dining room goes, we had excellent service and excellent food on every single day of our cruise.
Now I know that the main dining room food is not as high quality as it was years ago. But it is still very good and I had zero complaints.
We were seated on table 220 and our waiter Glason and assistant waiter Satyam, went out of their way to provide excellent service, and our head waiter checked in every evening to check all was good.
On one occasion I did send back a Filet mignon (it’s an extra cost upgrade on the main dining room menu) as it was overcooked. They fixed it and took the price off our bill. They also provided another complimentary one the next evening.
I was quite impressed with the Windjammer. We never ever had a problem finding seats and there was a nice variety of food available. They even had a special kids section which I thought was a great feature.
Other Food Locations
For some reason, I found the pizza at Sorrento’s awful on this ship. The dough they used seemed to be different from what I would expect at fresh pizza venues. A few other people we spoke to said the same. Apparently, the pizza at Giovanni’s Wine Bar (extra cost) is much nicer.
If you haven’t tried it yet, you just get the Roast Beef Kummelwick sandwich from the Park Cafe – it was outstanding and my favorite thing on the whole cruise.
Onboard Entertainment – What Really Makes Wonder of the Seas Special
The entertainment onboard is fantastic. With the exception of poor choice of venues for certain events (that Karaoke bar is too small), the entertainment schedule was fabulous. We were never short of things to do.
The Cruise Director
Our cruise director Ricky Mathews had lots of energy and was always around the gangway on port days as well to wish folks a great day or welcome them back on board.
The Main Broadway Style Production Shows
Wonder of the Seas does not feature “Broadway” shows as such. But what they do offer are shows that are certainly on par from a quality standpoint.
The Wonder of the Seas Aquatheater Show – Intense
This was our favorite show and it was spectacular. We actually went back to see it a second time. The sheer athleticism and incredible timing of these wonderful entertainers was a sight to behold. I’ve heard that there are three Olympian athletes in the group.
It’s a hard show to describe, but it had wonderful music, spectacular high-diving, and acrobatic stunts all rolled into one – kind of like a Cirque Du Solail-type performance.
This is a must-see if you are on board.
Ice Skating Production – Ice Spectacular: 365
I must admit to not looking forward to this one, as I’ve been disappointed with Ice shows on Royal ships in the past, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. Once again, these entertainers and athletes are at the top of their game. It was a fabulous and exciting show, with lots of amazing stunts and great use of visuals on the ice deck itself.
This one was a bit “Meh” for me and I found it a bit too long for the subject matter. If you like tap dancing, you will enjoy it though.
This was another amazing show. The premise of the show is that everything you hear played in the show is from a human voice. There are no other instruments or synthesizers being used. It was a very clever blend of live singing and pre-recorded videos from artists in the sound recording studio.
The Effectors II
Pardon the pun, but this didn’t float our boat at all, but would definitely appeal to the kids.
Other Entertainment and Ship Activities Onboard
The Attic on deck 4 would feature a Comedy club every evening. One of the two comedians was outstanding, the other less so, but he may have had a bad evening, the night we saw him as he seemed fixated on a squeaking door. It was the same two comedians all cruise long.
The Attic also has a poor design with pillars on either side of the stage which can obstruct the view of the comedians if you are seated at the sides.
I prefer what Carnival does which is to have a larger group of comedians who rotate throughout the week in their comedy clubs.
Western Caribbean Cruise Itinerary – Perfect Day at CocoCay, Cozumel, Roatan and Costa Maya
I’ll be reviewing each of the ports of call on this itinerary individually, but the highlight for us was definitely Roatan.
Perfect Day at Cococay
Cococay of course was fabulous. Amazingly this is the first time I have been back on Cococay since the ‘Perfect Day” concept was created and the once tranquil desert island was turned into a Theme Park LOL
The previous two cruises here had both managed to have weather problems that meant we couldn’t dock there, so this was my first “perfect day” visit despite having been to Cococay many times in the past.
I used to enjoy walking all the way around the island. the beach furthest from the dock was always empty.
It’s all changed now though and I am not sure with the construction etc and the the crew areas whether you could still walk around the whole island – I suspect not.
Despite my reservations about turning a previously almost unspoiled island into something that resembles a theme park, I was very pleasantly surprised.
They have got the mix here absolutely right for every type of cruiser. Want fun and a party atmosphere – head inland to the swim-up bars.
Want a quieter area, head to the Chill zone. Want some adrenaline-rushing entertainment, drop some dollars on the water park.
I can understand why many people assume that Perfect Day at Cococay costs extra for everything, as Royal Caribbean really does lay it on thick on the options available on what to do on the island. But honestly, there is lots of free stuff to do. (Although I don’t fancy your chances of keeping the kids away from that water park!).
There were also LOTS of loungers available. However, the Wonder of the Seas was the only cruise ship docked that day. It would be interesting to experience the island when two Oasis-class ships are docked. It could be quite busy!
I have to confess to never really being a fan of Cozumel. I’ve been there a few times in the past and this was the first time we had been back in almost ten years.
I was impressed to see the port area had improved. But if you want a quiet bar to chill in and watch the ocean go by you’ll need to head into town or find a local resort. The bars in the port were JUMPING! LOL
We thoroughly enjoyed Roatan. It’s a port that is clearly in a growth stage so I am excited to see how this port develops over the next few years.
If you are looking for things to do in Roatan that won’t cost you a small fortune, I would definitely recommend booking an independent island tour. We got an island tour, beach visit and sloth-hugging experience for just over $30 each!
[RELATED POST: Port of Roatan Guide: What to Expect When You Book Roatan as Part of Your Cruise Tour Itinerary]
As cruise ports go Costa Maya is one of my favorites. It has a great port area directly off the ship, but take my advice and hire an electric bike ($30 each for the day) or golf cart ($80 for the cart), or just jump in a taxi and head into the town of Mahahual just 2 miles away.
Mahahual is a wonderful spot. I know a lot of cruise passengers ask “Is Costa Maya safe?” and they really mean Mahahual. From our own experience, I would say it most definitely is.
Sadly I think Covid took its toll on Mahahual and the town didn’t seem as vibrant with non-cruise tourists as it was the last time we were there, which is a real shame. The locals are so friendly and work so hard for their tourist dollars.
If you are visiting do yourself a favor and visit the Krazy Lobster!
[RELATED POST: The Costa Maya Krazy Lobster Review]
The Disembarkation Process
All good cruises must come to an end and the disembarkation process always looms on the horizon.
We always elect to do “self-assist” and take our luggage off the ship ourselves. It gives us more flexibility and decreases any luggage delays impacting our onward travel plans.
The process at Port Canaveral was so smooth. They have face recognition technology, so getting through immigration is an absolute breeze.
We left our cabin at 8:45 am and were in our Port Shuttle bus and heading back to our car at 9:05. It was an absolute breeze. Who could think they could smoothly disembark so many passengers in such a quick time?
Is this the best Ship at Sea for a Family-Friendly cruise?
For a family cruise with kids, I would say this has to be way up there as the ultimate cruise ship. Being such a huge ship there is so much for everyone to enjoy. The Adventure Ocean kids club facilities on board Wonder of the Seas take kid-friendly cruising to a new height.
There is a huge variety of cabin types to match different family budgets as well. From modest interior stateroom all the way up to the Ultimate Family Suite or Royal Suite Class rooms.
Is this the best Royal Caribbean Ship for a Younger Couple?
Yes definitely – and don’t worry about all the kids. They are well looked after by the Adventure Ocean staff and we hardly saw them as they have their own private hangout areas on board. The overall demographic of the Oasis-class ships feels younger than other Royal Caribbean fleet ship classes.
Is Wonder of the Seas a Good Cruise Ship for Seniors?
Now, at 60 years old I place myself in this demographic. But I still like a good party and know how to enjoy myself LOL
However, would I recommend it for the “older” crowd? Probably not. Due to the sheer size of the ship, there is a lot of walking and I’ve touched on the lack of “quiet” areas around the pool deck.
We are on Oasis of the Seas for a Transatlantic crossing next April (2024), so it will be interesting to see how it compares!
Things You Need To Know Before Your Cruise on Wonder of the Seas
Check In As Early As You Can
When it is time to start the check-in process for your cruise, Royal Caribbean will send you an email. If you want to get on the ship early, try and complete that check-in process as early as possible. This ensures you get an early “arrival time”.
Royal now tries to “stagger” the arrival of guests to mitigate large crowds all arriving at the same time. This does really work well and is a lesson they learned post-COVID.
Book Your Show Reservations Before The Cruise
About 30 days before the cruise the ability to make reservations for the main shows on Wonder of the Seas will open up in the Royal Caribbean App.
Try to do this as soon as possible and certainly do it before you get on board.
When you make reservations, you are not reserving a particular seat, so you don’t need to make large group reservations if different families are traveling together.
On a similar note, if you have the Unlimited Dining Packages, I would make your reservations as soon as you get on board (you can’t do it earlier).
The Ship Is Easier To Get Around Than You Think And Not At All Crowded
Due to the different neighborhoods on board the ship, like the Royal Promenade, Boardwalk and Central Park, it is really quite easy to find your way around the ship, as you tend to focus on the Neighborhoods, rather than individual venues.
Also, I can honestly say that the ship did not feel crowded at all!
If Shows Are Fully Booked – Don’t Worry You Can Still Get To See Them
I have heard so many people say that when they tried to make reservations, all shows were fully booked.
If this does happen to you, don’t worry. Just head along to the show venue about 20-30 minutes early and join the standby queue. Trust me, you will get into the show. Perhaps not the Aquatheater show on the first night it is on, but definitely, the other nights won’t be a problem.
If You Forget Any Essentials You’ll Find Them in the Vending Machines
If you happen to forget something essential, head up to Deck 16 and you will find an array of vending machines that have everything from toothbrushes to phone chargers to sanitary products.
How Much Are Drinks And Do You Need The Drinks Package?
Royal Caribbean Drink prices on Wonder of the Seas are the same as they are on other ships on the fleet. So expect to pay $7.50 to $8.25 for a beer and from $9 to $16 for a glass of wine, plus an 18% gratuity.
Be aware that they also charge Sales Tax on drinks then docked at Port Canaveral and for the first hour or so after leaving.
So you need to do your sums to see if the Royal Caribbean drink package is worth it for you. We are Diamond members so my wife and I each get four free drinks vouchers each per day.
We decided not to buy the drinks package this time and we saved money on what it would have cost us if we had. And we were not holding back on drinking 😉
Remember there are lots of free drinks available on Royal Caribbean, so you can do this on a budget if you plan accordingly.
The Early Seating Time in the Dining Room is Very Early
We tend to do early seating on most cruises. But this was the first cruise ever that we regretted it.
The early seating time was 5 pm and this is the earliest I have ever seen an early seating on any cruise ship. Normally it’s 5:30 pm and that little half hour seemed to make a big difference.
Next time I will definitely choose My Time Dining.
The VOOM Internet Cruise Wi-Fi is Starlink-enabled and is very good
I purchased the Voom Internet Wi-Fi service and wasn’t disappointed. It was solid as a rock the whole cruise and download speeds were pretty good. If you might need Wi-Fi on your cruise then I would definitely recommend it.
Wonder of the Seas Frequently Asked Questions
What is Wonder of the Seas?
Wonder of the Seas is the newest and largest cruise ship offered by Royal Caribbean. It is an Oasis-class ship that made its debut in March 2022
What are the key features of Wonder of the Seas?
As well as amazing dining and entertainment options Wonder of the Seas also offers a variety of exciting amenities, including the Ultimate Abyss slide, the FlowRider surfing simulator, zip lines, water slides, climbing walls, and multiple hot tubs.
What dining options are available on Wonder of the Seas?
Wonder of the Seas offers a wide range of dining options throughout the ship, including everything from comfort food to Asian, Italian, and Southern specialties. There are also balcony cabins available with their own personal dining areas for those who prefer a more private high seas dining experience.
Wonder of the Seas Cruise Review – Our Verdict – 8 out of 10
Personally, I would give the ship a 9 out of 10 rating – only spoiled by a lack of a quiet area on the pool deck.
My wife Morag however, thinks it’s too big and still prefers the smaller to medium size ships like Mariner of the Seas. So between the two of us, we agreed an 8 out of 10 rating seemed fair.
Fortunately, I don’t have to persuade her to try the largest ships again as we had already booked Oasis of the Seas prior to this trip. Hopefully, another trip on an Oasis-class ship might change her mind.
I do wonder how people doing a first cruise on a ship like this would feel if their next cruise was on something much smaller. It must really spoil them, which I suppose is the intention of Royal Caribbean International – these new larger ships are the most profitable!
Wonder of the Seas Pros
- So much to do
- Incredible Theater Shows
- Larger stateroom sizes and more variety of cabin types
Wonder of the Seas Cons
- Noisy and loud – hard to find quieter areas
- Some venues are cramped due to mismanagement of the activities held there
- You do a lot of walking!
Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Wonder of the Seas is currently sailing out of Port Canaveral and doing alternate seven-night Western and Eastern Caribbean sailings. As well as visiting Cocacoy, the Eastern itinerary visits St Maarten and St Thomas.
I do hope you enjoyed this Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas Review. If you did, it would help us a lot if you could share it on social media and any cruise groups you are members of on Facebook.
Additionally, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to let us know in the comments.
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