Wonder of the Seas cruise ship review: What to expect on board

13 March 2023

Is Wonder of the Seas the ultimate cruise ship for family vacationers? As a mother of two, I am well aware that my friends with kids seek out Royal Caribbean’s enormous, attraction-laden Oasis-class cruise ships when they want to take their kids on a cruise. But I’d never sailed on one of these world’s largest cruise ships and was curious if I’d find a 6,988-passenger behemoth endlessly entertaining with tons of fun for kids and adults or an overcrowded mess.

The other burning question I had about Wonder of the Seas was how it treated its highest-paying guests. I had a conversation on a small luxury ship once with an avid Royal Caribbean cruiser who said she preferred sailing in the mass-market line’s most expensive cabins because it made her feel like a VIP, getting special perks and privileges other cruisers did not.

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When Wonder of the Seas debuted in March 2022, I had the opportunity to finally get my Royal Caribbean Oasis-class questions answered. I set sail with my 8-year-old daughter in a Grand Suite to discover what the largest ship in the world has to offer kids, grown-ups and travelers of all budgets.

Overview of Wonder of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas in Labadee, Haiti. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Wonder of the Seas currently holds the title of largest cruise ship in the world. It carries 5,734 guests at double occupancy (i.e., if every cabin held only two people) and 6,988 passengers when completely full. Add roughly 2,200 crew members, and you could be sailing on a ship with 9,000-plus people on board.

It has 16 passenger decks, which are divided into eight neighborhoods. It also has two “holes” in the middle of the ship, so certain interior areas of the ship are actually open to the sky.

Related: The 6 classes of Royal Caribbean cruise ships, explained

I discovered that the neighborhood concept is what makes a ship of this size easily navigable. Like attractions are grouped together, and the different neighborhoods have different vibes. Instead of having to remember where individual restaurants or theaters are, you learn where each neighborhood is and quickly can get oriented within the huge ship.

The Wonder of the Seas neighborhoods are:

Entertainment Place (Deck 4)

This neighborhood holds the ship’s main theater, comedy club, ice skating rink and casino. The Diamond Club for high-level Crown & Anchor loyalty club members is here as well.

Royal Promenade (decks 5 and 6)

Royal Promenade on Wonder of the Seas. MICHEL VERDURE/ROYAL CARIBBEAN

Royal Caribbean’s interior mall area features shops, bars and food outlets, and is encircled by an outdoor running track. Don’t miss the kitschy Bionic Bar, where the bartenders are robots, or the Rising Tide Bar, which travels elevator-style between the Royal Promenade and Central Park above. Free pizza at Sorrento’s and extra-charge coffee are here as well.

Vitality Spa and Fitness (decks 5 and 6)

Forward of the Royal Promenade is Wonder of the Seas’ Vitality spa and fitness center, with a salon, barbershop and thermal suite. Guests can order fresh juices and protein smoothies for a fee at the on-site Vitality Cafe before or after their workout or treatment.

Boardwalk (Deck 6)

This open-air neighborhood brings a carnival atmosphere with its carousel, hot dog vendor, candy store, sports bar and arcade, and Johnny Rockets outpost. The main attraction is the AquaTheater, which is flanked by two rock climbing walls and the exit of the Ultimate Abyss slide.

Central Park (Deck 8)

Central Park. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The second open-air neighborhood is possibly my favorite on board. Central Park is a calm oasis on the bustling ship and is filled with living trees and plants. By day, you can shop for high-end jewelry or grab a bite at the indoor-outdoor cafe or Italian restaurant. At night, it’s the perfect date night destination for a steak dinner or drinks at the wine bar.

Youth Zone (Deck 14)

Adventure Ocean on Wonder of the Seas. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

If you’re cruising with young kids, you’ll quickly get to know the sprawling Adventure Ocean kids club area. It’s got a drop-off nursery for babies and toddlers, a family play structure area and a huge youth lounge with art and science areas and lots of game space. The Puzzle Break escape room is right outside. Note that the arcade, Social100 teen club and outdoor patio are not in this neighborhood, but on decks 16 and 17.

Pool and Sports Zone (decks 15 and 16)

Three pools and numerous hot tubs, an adults-only solarium, a kids splash area, waterslides, a surf simulator, playground, minigolf, sports deck, zip line and entrance to a 10-deck twisting mat slide make Wonder of the Seas’ upper decks a popular destination for nearly everyone on board. There are plenty of food and beverage options here, including the huge Windjammer buffet, which means you don’t have to leave your lounger for long when you get hungry or thirsty.

Suite Neighborhood (decks 17 and 18)

ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Wonder of the Seas is the first Oasis-class ship to bring all the suite amenities together into a dedicated neighborhood. It houses many, but not all, of the ships’ top suites, an exclusive restaurant and lounge with bar and concierge desks, and a sun deck with a wading pool and hot tubs.

I’ve heard many people say they’d never set foot on a floating city like Wonder of the Seas, but the truth is the ship doesn’t feel overly crowded because there are so many places for people to go. The Promenade feels as bustling as any popular mall or Vegas casino resort you’ve ever strolled through, and yes, the pools are often full to the brim with people soup. You will need to line up early for AquaTheater shows to get a reasonable seat.

But I never struggled to find a lounge chair or buffet table, and Central Park always felt peaceful. Don’t let the size of the ship intimidate you. There’s space for everyone.

What I loved about Wonder of the Seas

Things to do

FlowRider on Wonder of the Seas. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I am not the type who can lie in the sun all day – I get bored, dehydrated and sunburned. So my favorite thing about cruising on the world’s largest cruise ship was that there was always something to do.

If I was feeling active, I could try the zip line or Ultimate Abyss dry slide or take a brisk walk around the promenade. If I wanted to linger with friends over a drink, I could try a different bar every time. Even up on the pool deck, I was always moving back and forth from one of the main pools to the splash playground to the water slides and back. My daughter and I spent an hour ice skating, and I would have attempted to summit the rock wall if it hadn’t been closed due to high winds when we had time to go.

My colleague Ashley Kosciolek, also on the sailing with us, made a point to try every activity on board, and it took her more than a day to sample everything.

Shows

I’m also a theater buff and love to watch shows of all kinds. The quality of cruise ship shows can vary, but Royal Caribbean excels in this department.

My daughter (and everyone else on board) was in awe of the acrobatic and high-diving show at the AquaTheater; you haven’t lived until you’ve seen someone slackline high above a ship at sea. The ice skating show was so fun, with such colorful costumes, we saw it twice. The one main theater show we saw (“Voices”) was mediocre, but the preview of “The Effectors II,” which is now playing, looked amazing.

I wasn’t about to take a young kid to a comedy club, so I missed that experience, but it’s another fun option for folks who aren’t big on musicals.

Suite Neighborhood

The Suite Neighborhood was also a big success, and cruisers who like to book suites should choose Wonder over the other Oasis-class ships for this reason. Every meal we ate at Coastal Kitchen, the suite-exclusive restaurant open for every mealtime, was superior to the main dining room, and the staff went out of its way to pay attention to my daughter and accommodate any need.

The sun deck was lovely, and if I hadn’t been traveling with a young child who preferred the splash park, I’d have spent all my sun time lounging there. The concierges were a great help getting us show tickets and restaurant reservations, and whisking us off the ship in the easiest debarkation of all time.

Plus, the proximity of the Suite Lounge to our suite meant that we could easily pop over for a drink or snack whenever we wanted. My 8-year-old even ventured over there on her own to pick up some breakfast one morning, and the staff was kind and helpful to her.

Related: 5 things I love about Royal Caribbean’s new suite neighborhood

Family-friendliness

ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Royal Caribbean has been paying closer attention to the needs of families with children, and it shows on Wonder. (The culmination of this focus will be the next biggest ship at sea, Icon of the Seas, debuting in 2024.)

All family-friendly cruise lines have kids clubs and food options for kids, but Royal Caribbean really thought about the arrangement of things on the ship. On the Boardwalk, you can find outdoor seating for Johnny Rockets, Playmakers Sports Bar (which has an extra-fee burger menu) and a complimentary hot dog venue next to the carousel and a climbing structure for kids. While I waited for food to arrive, my daughter could run, climb and ride around to get the wiggles out.

There’s a splash area for diapered kids, so they have a cooldown option since they’re not allowed in the main pool, and a grown-up can find a lounge chair between the splash pool and the water slides and let the kids go back and forth. A new playground space bleeds into the minigolf course, which is next to the grab-and-go Mexican venue and near the multistory slide entrance, so it’s an easy place for families to set up shop.

Plus, the Adventure Ocean youth facilities are huge, with space for multiple activities to take place at the same time. My daughter is not always a fan of the kids clubs, often because older kids would monopolize the video games or because everyone in the club had to do the same activity without choice. On Wonder of the Seas, she could choose to do art or watch the science experiment if she didn’t feel like running around and playing games.

Related: Why Wonder of the Seas is awesome for families

What I didn’t love about Wonder of the Seas

Wonder of the Seas pool deck. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Small pools

Every large cruise ship suffers from the problem of overcrowded pools, but even three pools couldn’t handle the sea-day crowds on Wonder. If you feel like taking a dip, know that you’re going to share the pool with everyone from splashing, often unsupervised kids to adults on their first or fifth drink of the day. The pools are packed and bustling and not at all serene. At least they do have lifeguards monitoring the waters.

No Broadway show

For years, Royal Caribbean has been putting condensed versions of popular Broadway shows on its ships. I’d seen “We Will Rock You” on Anthem of the Seas and was impressed by the quality of the performance (the script, less so – but that’s not Royal’s fault). So I was disappointed to learn there’d be no big-name musical on Wonder of the Seas, despite its sister Oasis-class ships offering them.

Late-night food

Food waste is a big deal on cruise ships, and the industry as a whole has been moving toward fewer late-night food options that people tend to order and not finish. (Think of the death knell of the infamous midnight buffet and increased room service fees.) On this cruise, however, I found that when your kid eats dinner at 6 p.m. and then plays in the kids club until 10 p.m., she will be ravenous when she gets out, yet pickings are slim.

If I picked her up early, we could perhaps hit the buffet before it closed. Otherwise, the options were limited to Sorrento’s 24/7 pizza and the pastries and fancy little sandwiches at the Cafe Promenade. I would have liked some fruit or something that was not greasy but also kid appropriate, and it was definitely hard to find – especially if I didn’t want to pay (which I didn’t). Really, I wish the buffet stayed open just a tad later to accommodate Adventure Ocean’s closing hours.

Wonder of the Seas cabins and suites

A balcony cabin. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Wonder of the Seas offers an array of cabins and suites to suit any price point, from windowless inside cabins to ocean-facing balcony rooms and a plethora of suites, including two-story loft accommodations, suites with large balconies facing the AquaTheater and the Ultimate Family Suite. Like its Oasis-class sisters, it has unique-to-Royal interior-facing rooms with picture windows or balconies that overlook the Boardwalk and Central Park.

My colleagues on board were booked into inside and balcony cabins, and reviewed their rooms favorably. I booked my daughter and myself into a Grand Suite, the lowest level of suite that qualified for Sky-class perks, including full access to Coastal Kitchen and the Suite Lounge.

Related: Wonder of the Seas 3 ways: Inside, balcony and suite compared

Our suite was a two-room suite, with the sleeping area separated from the living area by a floor-length curtain that could be pulled across the entire width of the room. That meant I could read or work on the couch with the lights on while my daughter slept in the dark on the other side of our suite. This setup is a bonus for family travelers with different bedtimes.

Our room had two twin beds, but those can be pushed together into a queen for couples. We each had our own nightstand with drawers and bedside lights, as well as U.S. and European outlets and USB ports by the bed. The layout works better with the beds together; my daughter’s pillows were blocking her outlets, should she have wanted to use them.

Our suite was technically an accessible room, which I hadn’t realized when booking. There was an emergency pull cord by one of the beds. The left side of the bed is too close to the bathroom wall to fit a wheelchair or walker, so travelers using mobility devices are limited to the right side.

Across from the beds was a desk with drawers, topped with a Lavazza coffee maker and flanked by two narrow closets with limited shelving. Another closet stood kitty-corner to the bathroom door. The storage was sufficient for a weeklong Caribbean cruise, but I was disappointed there wasn’t a bureau with deeper drawers (as there was in my colleague’s balcony room) or additional shelf space for underwear and bathing suits.

We didn’t discover the best part of the sleeping area until halfway through our cruise – a TV that comes down from the ceiling!

Grand Suite on Wonder of the Seas. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

The living area had a three-seat couch and two easy chairs with a coffee table in between. A wall-mounted flat-screen TV was affixed above another desk, this one with three deeper drawers and the minifridge.

The entire room was done up in neutrals with some gold highlights. It definitely felt more like a luxury hotel than a standard Royal Caribbean cruise cabin, but to be honest, I found the decor a bit bland.

Our bathroom was enormous (thanks, accessible room), with a roll-in shower and grab bars around the toilet. (And a phone, for when nature calls …) The bathroom vanity only had one sink, not two, but did have a ton of shelf space behind the large mirror.

The shower was equipped with wall dispensers of Malin + Goetz shampoo, conditioner and body wash, which smelled lovely. I tried to set up the pull-down shower bench for leg-shaving purposes, but I couldn’t figure it out; not sure if it was broken or I’m just helpless.

Grand Suite. (Photo by Erica Silverstein/The Points Guy)

If I had one regret about our cabin, it was that I spent next to no time on the enormous balcony. It had a dining table for four, surrounded by cushioned wicker chairs, as well as two even more cushy wicker chairs with footstools flanking a drinks table. It was the perfect spot to read a book or enjoy room service breakfast, but we were always on the go.

Grand Suite. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

And that would be my biggest takeaway tip for folks choosing cabins on Wonder of the Seas. With so much to do on board, you’re not going to be in your room much. Consider trading down and staying in the smallest or cheapest room you’re happy in and saving your money for restaurants and experiences on board or excursions ashore.

Related: Royal Caribbean cruise ship cabin and suite guide: Everything you want to know

That said, I appreciated the perks that came with the Grand Suite perhaps more than I did the extra-large room. We received complimentary Wi-Fi, priority embarkation and disembarkation, free drinks and snacks at a nightly happy hour in the lounge, concierge service and priority show seating (if you showed up early), and complimentary room service.

We also had exclusive access to the Suite Lounge, Suite Sun Deck and Coastal Kitchen restaurant. We only stopped briefly at the sun deck because I forced my daughter to go; its upscale vibe and lack of a swimming pool make it less attractive to children than the main pool deck, but for adults, it’s a lovely place to order a drink and chill on a lounge chair or in a hot tub.

We used the Suite Lounge to make requests of the concierge and to enjoy nibbles throughout the day, but the happy hour snacks were too fancy for my kid, so we only made it to the bar for free drinks once. If you’re coming to Coastal Kitchen for dinner, come a little early to pick up a free cocktail or glass of wine, and take it with you to your table.

Both my daughter and I agreed that Coastal Kitchen was the best part of the suite experience. It was a calmer sit-down dining experience than the main dining room, and it was fun to look out over the sports deck and Boardwalk while we waited for our food. Everything I ate was delicious, from some of the best gnocchi I’ve ever tasted to delightful balls of cheesecake.

The service here was outstanding. The waiters treated my daughter like a princess, bringing her bowls of berries and making her special chocolate milk. When I asked for something other than Tabasco for my scrambled eggs one morning, they ransacked the galley and brought me both salsa and sambal to spice things up.

Wonder of the Seas restaurants and bars

Wonder of the Seas has more restaurants than you could hope to dine in on a seven-night cruise and an equally large number of bars – all with their own vibes and specialties. Pick your favorites and don’t worry about experiencing it all.

Restaurants

Royal Caribbean’s main dining room is perfectly fine, but nothing special. You can eat here every night and have an array of options, or you can skip it for the extra-fee specialty restaurants and not feel like you’ve missed anything.

The Windjammer buffet is large and split into two sections, each overlooking the Boardwalk nine decks below. Food items are set out in stations to keep queues to a minimum, and I was pleased with the selection whenever I ate there. Some cruise ships have long and narrow buffets, where you can’t see beyond the section you’re in, so you have to do laps to make sure you haven’t missed anything. The Windjammer is all set up in one open space, so you can see all the stations at once; it feels more open and less claustrophobic this way.

Windjammer Marketplace on Wonder of the Seas. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Wonder of the Seas has several included-in-your-fare cafe-style venues that are perfect for fast meals or snacks. El Loco Fresh by the minigolf course is a favorite for a quick lunch of tacos and quesadillas. Sorrento’s Pizza serves pies all day and night on the Promenade; the pizza is fine but nothing special. The Dog House hands out hot dogs and sausages on the Boardwalk, but we never found them open when we were hungry.

Central Park Cafe is a lovely place to grab a bagel or muffin for breakfast or a premade salad at lunchtime; the Promenade Cafe was our go-to for late-night pick-me-ups like cookies and finger sandwiches. I never made it to the Solarium Cafe in the solarium for Mediterranean fare (though I heard it was a good place to go for healthy salads).

And, of course, the world’s largest ship has an enormous soft-serve ice cream station in the middle of the pool deck.

Wonderland restaurant. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Extra-fee restaurants range from casual to elegant, so you’ve got options on how much you want to spend on meals and what style of eatery you prefer. If burgers are your thing, you have competing options on the Boardwalk, both with indoor and outdoor seating.

Johnny Rockets offers all manner of burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches, but is known for its milkshakes and dancing waiters. My daughter would have eaten here daily if I was willing to keep paying for hot dogs and milkshakes.

Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade focuses on your bar-food apps, like wings and nachos, with a few burgers and two megadesserts worth forking over the extra cash. My daughter and I split the Campfire Cookie and she’s still talking about that cookies-s’mores mashup.

Campfire Cookie at Playmakers. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Central Park is the hub for date night, with 150 Central Park (the fanciest restaurant on board), Chops Grille (steakhouse) and Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen.

We ate lunch at Giovanni’s, and the pizza put Sorrento’s to shame. The giant meatball is apparently amazing (I don’t eat pork, so didn’t partake), and I admit to ordering the Nutella and banana stromboli for dessert off the kids menu and not regretting one bite. At night, don’t miss the wine bar across the park.

For a surreal experience with the Mad Hatter and molecular gastronomy, Wonderland is a reservation must. Sushi fans can hit up Izumi, tucked away on Deck 4 by the casino.

Hands down, our favorite restaurant on board was The Mason Jar, Royal Caribbean’s new Southern comfort food restaurant only available on Wonder of the Seas. It was such a hit I hope they roll it out on other ships.

The extra-fee venue is open for brunch and dinner and has a lively bar and often a live country music band. The bar area is themed around a front porch, with rocking chairs, a swing and tables tucked into window spaces, while the dining area in the back feels homey and relaxed.

The Mason Jar is not a place to count your calories; we had brunch there and it was an indulgent feast. My daughter loved her chocolate, peanut butter and banana French toast so much she wouldn’t share a bite; I adored the creative cocktails and the jalapeno cornbread with pimento cheese spread and whipped honey butter.

Book early for a reservation or come off-hours for a seat at the bar. The main drawback is the venue gets loud, especially when the band is playing, so be prepared to yell all your conversations.

Bars

Mason Jar bar. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Solo parent travel with an 8-year-old gave me many reasons to drink but few opportunities to actually spend time in Wonder of the Seas’ many bars.

I was a fan of Giovanni’s Wine Bar, with indoor and outdoor seating in Central Park; it was a romantic spot, as is the all-outdoor Trellis Bar nearby. I never got to ride the Rising Tide Bar and was disappointed, but it’s not an interesting bar beyond its kitschy ability to levitate.

You have to stop by the Bionic Bar to watch the robotic arms mix drinks. However, the robots have a predilection for sweet cocktails, and their drinks aren’t the best. Better to head to one of the many Lime & Coconut outposts on the pool deck. Its signature drink is delicious and refreshing (and you can get them in colorful souvenir pails), and the outdoor seating has a fun resort vibe.

Some of my favorite drinks came from restaurant bars. I didn’t want to splurge for a meal in Wonderland, but I met friends at the bar and enjoyed a very pink cotton candy-topped Cheshire Cat Cosmo from the creative cocktail menu.

Cocktails at Wonderland. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

The drinks at Mason Jar were hands-down my favorite; my PB&J Old Fashioned came with a mini crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a garnish. And, yes, you can get smoky drinks at both restaurant watering holes.

The Vue Bar is a new venue, cantilevered over the side of the ship and replacing a hot tub found on sister ships. I only passed by, but word from my friends was that it was overly windy and the drinks were the standard ones, not a special menu.

Vue Bar. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

If you like to dance the night away, the Music Hall is a two-story club with live and DJ music and two bars. Catch the game and a beer at Playmakers Sports Bar; there’s an arcade here, too. The Cask & Clipper often has live music; the nautical-themed Schooner Bar is the place for trivia and a pianist; and the Latin-inspired Boleros is the place to get your salsa on.

You can get your caffeine fix at Starbucks or Cafe Promenade. Both serve Starbucks coffee for a fee, but the snacks at Cafe Promenade are free, while the ones at Starbucks cost extra. You can order smoothies and juices for a price at the Vitality Cafe in the spa.

Related: Cruise ship drinks packages: A line-by-line guide

Wonder of the Seas activities

Wonder Playscape on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

Wonder of the Seas is the perfect ship for folks with short attention spans or who need to keep active to stay happy. There is always something to do, and I’m not just talking bean bag toss and music trivia. Even better, the majority of the activities are fee-free, so you can play to your heart’s content without worrying about running up a huge bill.

Most of the fun is found on the uppermost decks of the ship. In addition to multiple pools and hot tubs, you’ll find a splash playground for kids (plus a mini splash area for tykes in diapers) and three waterslides. Adults can bask in pools and hot tubs at the indoor 16-plus solarium.

Crank the adrenaline up a notch at the back of the ship. I declined to try the FlowRider surf simulator, nor did I join a game on the sports court, but I did fly across the ship on the short zip line that soars above the Boardwalk. (You have to look down — it’s wild.)

My daughter and I tried the Ultimate Abyss 10-story slide (dry, not wet) multiple times. You ride down on a mat, with your feet tucked into a fold at the bottom. Don’t be nervous about it; it’s much slower than you think it would be from the tube’s length. I actually wished it were a bit faster.

New on this ship is the Wonder Playscape climbing structure and play area for young kids. Watching my daughter scramble up and down, I thought that Royal Caribbean could have done more to make this area more fun for elementary-school-age kids. As it stands, it’s focused more on the preschool set. However, don’t miss the captain’s wheel that looks over the bottom floor of the play space. Spinning the wheel turns on some hilarious pirate audio.

Another odd choice is that the top of the Wonder Playscape climbing area opens onto the Wonder Dunes minigolf course. Because the whimsical, underwater-themed putting area is multicolored and not green, many families don’t realize at first that it’s a golf course, and little kids were climbing all over the obstacles.

The only main outdoor activity not on a top deck is Wonder’s twin rock climbing walls. They flank the AquaTheater at the far end of the Boardwalk. Wind prevented us from harnessing up and having a go, so be flexible if this is a top attraction on your sailing.

The activities continue indoors, too. At select times (usually on sea days), the entertainment staff offers ice skating sessions and laser tag in Studio B, the ship’s indoor ice rink. (Not at the same time, obviously, and a floor and inflatable obstacles are added for laser tag.) Both are popular, so sign up or get in line as early as possible. For ice skating, we waited in line to sign the waiver, but then were given a time to return to do the actual skating.

Studio B ice skating rink on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

A designated escape room is located next to Adventure Ocean, but it wasn’t yet ready on the maiden voyage. Arcade games are available by Playmakers and on Deck 16 next door to El Loco Fresh. And if you like to sing, a dedicated karaoke lounge with both public and private sessions can be found on the Royal Promenade.

For those who like gaming, there’s a casino on Deck 4 that I don’t think I ever saw.

I never made it to the Vitality spa and fitness center on decks 5 and 6, but it offers all the R&R options, from massages and saunas to yoga classes and treadmill runs.

And, of course, the ship’s entertainment crew will lead trivia and other activities, especially on sea days.

Wonder of the Seas shows

Ice skaters on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Royal Caribbean is known for its amazing entertainment, and the cruise line offers shows that cannot be found on any other line. We found that they live up to the hype.

The AquaTheater show, “inTENse,” was full of high diving, slacklining and synchronized dancing and swimming in varying-height pools. My daughter couldn’t get enough of it, and I have to say, neither could I. Fun fact: It’s the first all-female AquaTheater cast. Arrive at least a half-hour early if you care where you sit. We sat at Playmakers one evening and watched the line for the theater stretch all the way down the Boardwalk – and that was just people with reservations.

The ice skating show, “365: The Seasons on Ice,” is a whimsical romp through the seasons, with fun music, colorful costumes and spunky personality. Don’t expect Olympic-caliber triple axels; it’s more impressive that the group manages to stage on a tiny rink on a moving ship.

My daughter allowed me only one number of the main theater show, “Voices,” though friends who stayed weren’t overly impressed. We did see a preview of “The Effectors II” show and its light-up synchronized drone dance number, and that superhero-themed show looked more appealing.

Also not yet ready for prime time on our sailing were the parades down the Royal Promenade. We did catch part of a rehearsal for a pirate-themed parade, and the “floats” and costumes were fun. If you’ve got little kids, keep an eye out for the parade in your daily planner.

Across from the Studio B ice rink is The Attic, which hosts comedy shows. Cruise ship comedy tends to be hit or miss; whether you enjoy it depends on your sense of humor meshing with that of the comedian.

Wonder of the Seas itineraries and pricing

Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay private island. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Through at least April 2025, Wonder of the Seas will sail alternating weeklong Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral, Florida (near Orlando). Every cruise calls at Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Eastern Caribbean sailings visit St. Kitts, St. Thomas and Perfect Day. Western Caribbean cruises stop at Nassau, Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Labadee, Haiti (a private beach destination); and Perfect Day.

A few one-off sailings are six or eight nights or stop in alternate ports.

Currently, starting prices for windowless inside cabins range from $780 to nearly $1,400 per person, based on double occupancy. Christmas and New Year’s sailings are even more expensive. Starting prices for balcony cabins range from $1,000 to $1,700 per person, but winter holiday and other popular vacation weeks can top $2,000.

Suites start at $2,200 per person and take off from there, based on sail date and suite type. The ship’s sole Ultimate Family Suite (a spacious two-deck loft suite tricked out with kid-friendly games and attractions) will set you back at least $20,000 for the week.

What to know before you go

ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Required documents

Since Wonder of the Seas is currently sailing round-trip from Florida, U.S. citizens can sail with either a current passport or an official copy of their birth certificate and a driver’s license or other government-issued photo I.D. Passports must be valid for at least six months.

The name on your reservation must be the same as what’s printed on your passport or other official proof of nationality. Double-check if you’ve recently gotten married or go by a different version of your name.

Gratuities

Wonder of the Seas guests will find an automatic service gratuity of $16 to $18.50 per person per day, depending on your cabin category, added to their onboard account and final bill. You are allowed to adjust this amount at the Guest Services desk before disembarking, but TPG does not recommend this, even if you are disappointed by the service.

An 18% gratuity is added to bar and spa/salon bills. You should not feel pressured to add an additional tip.

Related: Everything you need to know about tipping on cruise ships 

Wi-Fi

Royal Caribbean has one of the fastest Wi-Fi systems at sea, and you can take advantage of this on Wonder of the Seas. Currently, Wi-Fi packages with streaming bandwidth start at $17.99 per day per device; however, prices do change over time. If you’re traveling with family or sharing a room with friends, look for multidevice packages that are less expensive on a per-device basis. Certain suite guests receive complimentary Wi-Fi, so know your included perks before you sign up for a package.

Related: How fast is the internet on Royal Caribbean ships? We put it to the test

Carry-on drinks policy

Every passenger of drinking age can bring a single bottle of wine or Champagne onto Wonder of the Seas at boarding, plus up to a dozen standard cans, bottles or cartons of nonalcoholic drinks such as sodas. You can enjoy your wine at no extra cost in your cabin or suite, but you’ll need to pay a $15 corkage fee if you choose to drink it at a restaurant, bar or lounge.

Smoking policy

Smoking (including e-cigarette smoking) is forbidden in cabins and on cabin balconies, and those who violate this rule will face a $250 cleaning fee.

Passengers can smoke in Wonder of the Seas’ casinos (cigarettes only) and designated outdoor areas of the pool decks; there is a separate nonsmoking section of the casino. The Central Park and the Boardwalk neighborhoods, though open to the sky, do not offer smoking areas, nor does the jogging track.

Laundry

Wonder of the Seas does not offer self-service launderettes. Passengers can pay extra for laundry, pressing and dry cleaning services.

Electrical outlets

You’ll find North American-style 110-volt outlets and European-style 220-volt outlets in cabins, along with USB ports, in all cabins. I liked having outlets by the bed, as well as the desk area.

Currency

The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar. You won’t need cash on Wonder of the Seas, though. Use your SeaPass card to charge any onboard purchases (drinks, souvenirs, extra-fee meals, shore excursions, etc.) to your onboard account, and Royal Caribbean will charge your credit card on file once the cruise ends. You can check your onboard bill in the cruise line’s app, at Guest Services or via your in-cabin television.

Drinking age

You must be 21 to consume alcohol on Wonder of the Seas.

Dress code

During the day, people dress casually. T-shirts, shorts, athletic wear, casual sundresses and bathing suits are commonly worn on board and ashore. Bring a cover-up to go from the pool back indoors.

An evening dress code only applies to Royal Caribbean’s main dining room. On most nights, casual dress is acceptable, with jeans and shorts acceptable in the main dining room. (Swimwear, bare feet and tank-type T-shirts are not allowed.) One night on our cruise was supposedly Caribbean-themed, but it wasn’t enforced. Still, a Hawaiian shirt is never out of place on a tropical cruise.

Two nights were deemed “dress your best” or formal, and you’ll find a range of interpretations of dressy attire. Women lean toward cocktail dresses or stylish pants outfits, though you’ll see some floor-length gowns. Men wear suits or sports coats or simply button-down shirts with nice slacks. People certainly get away with jeans if they’re a dark color and paired with a jacket or dressy top.

Kids can get away with almost anything, so don’t worry about convincing your preschooler to put on a button-down shirt.

Dressier nights tend to be on sea days, often the second and fifth or sixth night of the cruise.

Related: What to pack for your 1st cruise

Bottom line

Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas docked at Perfect Day at CocoCay. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Wonder of the Seas is a cruise ship that appeals to active families, couples and friend groups. While most of the fun activities on board are included in the fare, you will pay extra if you want to sample many of the restaurants on board.

Cabins cover a range of price points, but this popular new ship will command a higher price for a weeklong cruises than older ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Cruisers looking for more luxurious digs and less fuss over chasing after reservations and waiting in line for seats have a solid option if they want to book a Suite Neighborhood cabin, with access to exclusive dining and deck areas.

The biggest concern I had about Wonder was crowding and getting lost on such a huge trip, but I found my fears to be unwarranted. Sure, you’ll find competition for the best dining times and show tickets, but the ship didn’t feel more crowded than other big ships, and the neighborhood layout made it easy to find your way around.

I had a blast with my daughter on Wonder of the Seas and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for an active, big-ship vacation in the Caribbean.

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