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The cruise world's new giant, Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, officially debuts on Friday

March 3 2022
4 min read
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The new giant of the cruise world, Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, is just hours away from its first sailing with paying passengers.

The much-awaited, 18-deck-high vessel -- the biggest cruise ship ever built -- will depart from Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades on Friday afternoon on its inaugural voyage to the Caribbean.

The seven-night trip will bring stops at Labadee, Haiti; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Nassau, Bahamas; and Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas.

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The sailing is the first of eight the massive vessel will operate out of Port Everglades before repositioning to the Mediterranean for the summer.

TPG will be reporting live from Wonder's first sailing over the coming week with a three-person team. It'll include two of our in-house cruise writers and editors, Erica Silverstein and Ashley Kosciolek. (You'll be able to find all their dispatches at Erica's author's page and Ashley's author's page, respectively.) Also on board will be Colby Kirkpatrick, one of TPG's social media managers. He'll be posting live from TPG's main social accounts at Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Facebook.

Setting a new record by a tad

Built at the giant Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, over the past three years, Wonder of the Seas measures 236,857 tons — about 4% bigger than the current size leader in the cruise world, Royal Caribbean’s 4-year-old Symphony of the Seas.

Like Symphony, Wonder is part of Royal Caribbean’s groundbreaking Oasis class of ships, which began rolling out in 2009 and now dominates the list of the world's largest cruise ships.

With the arrival of Wonder, Royal Caribbean now operates all of the world's five biggest cruise vessels and nine of the world's 20 largest cruise vessels.

Wonder is similar to Symphony and three earlier Oasis-class vessels with a few new twists that contribute to its bigger size, including a dedicated suite area with a private lounge, restaurant and sun deck. Like the four earlier Oasis-class ships, it is nearly 1,200 feet long — the equivalent of more than three football fields.

Notably, Wonder has room for up to 6,988 passengers with every berth filled -- more than any other passenger ship in history.

Related: The ultimate guide to Royal Caribbean

It sails with 2,300 crew members, also more than any other passenger ship in history.

As a result, the total number of people on Wonder at times could approach 9,300.

After launching the Oasis class in 2009, Royal Caribbean added three more Oasis-class vessels in 2010, 2016 and 2018. Each of the ships has been a little bigger than the last, and they’re all more than 20% larger than any other cruise vessels afloat.

Like the earlier Oasis-class ships, Wonder will offer multiple main pool areas, a kiddie splash zone, surfing simulators, a miniature golf course, a basketball court and even a zip line. And that’s just on its top deck. Inside the vessel, you’ll find more lounges, bars, restaurants and shops than you can imagine, plus a huge casino, spas and theaters.

As with earlier Royal Caribbean ships, it’ll even have an indoor ice-skating rink.

Related: The 7 most anticipated new cruise ships of 2022

Wonder originally was scheduled to debut in China in 2021 as the largest cruise ship ever to sail in Asia. But Royal Caribbean canceled its inaugural season of China cruises and redirected the ship to the U.S. market in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Featured photo by (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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