Wonder of the Seas Inside Scoop: Things You Probably Don’t Know about the Biggest Ship at Sea | Travel Research Online

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Wonder of the Seas Inside Scoop: Things You Probably Don’t Know about the Biggest Ship at Sea

Aboard Wonder of the Seas, between Puerto Rico and the Bahamas It’s Day Five of the Wonder of the Seas’ maiden voyage sailing the Caribbean out of Fort Lauderdale, with stops at San Juan and Nassau, Labadee and CocoCay. While only 60% full today, with a contingent of about 100 media and many Loyal to Royal repeat cruisers, at full capacity she can carry 6,988 total guests on 18 decks.

A big ship fan myself(and a small ship fan too!), I’m having a blast, but with the help of one onboard press conference, a Coffee Talk with Vicki Freed and an interview with SVP Jay Schneider, I’ve also learned a lot.

So here are a few things I think travel advisors might like to know when you go to sell the ship:

 

 

Suite Deck on the Wonder of the Seas © Cheryl Rosen

 

Crowd control is a thing RCCL knows how to do.

At least in Miami. It doesn’t get any better than a five-minute check-in when you are one of 4,300. And despite one glitchy elevator that sometimes doesn’t seem to understand the human touch, there are no lines waiting to board, even when the show breaks.

Rather than being lost in the crowd, families onboard are closer together than ever.

For the suite crowd, including the best and biggest 10-person Family Suite at sea, Wonder of the Seas for the first time collects all the pieces—rooms, pool deck, restaurant—into one single secluded neighborhood. And on the pool deck,the ship now has an adult pool on one side and the kids splash area on the other, so parents and grandparents can sit in the middle and keep an eye on everyone.

 

Adult-only solarium on the Wonder of the Seas © Cheryl Rosen

 

There’s more technology and fewer people in a roster of great—but shorter—shows.

What do you do when you are creating entertainment and all you have is Zoom—and every time you try to get together, a new variant fells the stars of the team? You mix technology with live action and create something original and new. Tap Factory is lots of fun, a sort of Stomp at sea. And when the Tree of Life fell victim to supply chain issues, Nick Weir and the entertainment team merged the 365 show and the ice show in a remix that creates something better than either. The brand new Voices, 45 minutes of fabulous acapella pop music and dance from an onstage team of 12 backed up by Zoomers, is an homage to what we all went through when only technology held us together, and a thanksgiving that we are finally coming together again, on these beautiful ships at sea. Not here yet, but coming in November, is part 2 of The Effectors that is currently playing on Odyssey of the Seas; a preview short film we saw touched our hearts with the trials of the crew struggling to produce it through Covid and then Omicron, and convinced us that a show about superheroes is timely and meaningful – and amazing fun—for adults as well as kids.

If you love country, there’s more here for you.

Country music fans will cheer the first-ever appearance of the genre in the Promenade. And while Portside BBQ is gone, it’s been replaced by the bigger and grander Mason Jar. Honestly, I loved the down-home feel of Portside, the affordable prices for huge portions, the line dancing, waving goodbye to the Manhattan skyline sailing out of New York harbor. But bless their hearts, the F&B team sure did come up with some tasty concoctions when they expanded the menu here. (OK, I couldn’t resist the PB&J Old Fashioned: peanut butter whiskey, bourbon, strawberry jelly).

 

Dinner with a view at the Windjammer Cafe © Cheryl Rosen

 

There’s a new design to the Windjammer.

With more people to feed, the Windjammer has more washy-washy stations plus a row of sofas. But buffets for 6,000 do suffer a bit in delivery. It seems to me there are fewer choices; it’s hard to find anything that’s not carb and sugar heavy. And it takes 15-20 minutes to get what you order at the omelette station. But in its new location, the Windjammer does offer that really nice view of Central Park back to the Aqua theater that you could once only get in Wonderland.

As in all things built during Covid, it’s still a work in progress.

Just as the million moving pieces that come together in entertainment at sea started to jell, omicron hit. So on this very first revenue sailing, there is not yet a big Broadway-type show, and even the Aqua Show is still under construction. But the tales of adversity being overcome and the sense of being part of the rebirth of cruising offer up the kind of emotional connection to which those who truly love travel aspire.

 


Cheryl’s 40-year career in journalism is bookended by roles in the travel industry, including Executive Editor of Business Travel News in the 1990s, and recently, Editor in Chief of Travel Market Report and admin of Cheryl Rosen’s Group for Travel Professionals, a news and support group on Facebook.

As an independent contractor since retiring from the 9-to-5 to travel more, she has written regular articles about the life and business of travel agents for Luxury Travel Advisor, Travel Agent and Insider Travel Report. She also writes and edits for professional publications in the financial services, business and technology sectors.

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