‘Wonder of the Seas’
PHILIPSBURG--The world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Fifth Oasis Class Wonder of the Seas, will be making its inaugural port call on Monday, March 21.
Port St. Maarten Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Gumbs said he is looking forward to the port call, adding that the cruise industry is on a path to rebounding and industry partners remain committed, with many ships debuting this year and in years to come.
Gumbs further said that the 2022 season began softer than expected due to Omicron, but March cruise figures are showing a slight increase in occupancy numbers. With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowering the cruise travel notice from level three to two, bookings in the coming months should improve in general.
Wonder of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship which commenced with its inaugural sailing out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on March 4, operating seven-night cruises.
These itineraries will run through April until the vessel heads to Europe in May for summer Mediterranean cruises. Wonder of the Seas will return to Florida in November for Caribbean cruises.
Gumbs said the Port currently welcomes all five of the Oasis class vessels and is still one of the few destinations in the world that can accommodate/berth two vessels simultaneously.
“We have an edge over many destinations, but they are catching up and we are in the process of extending our edge through experience and berth accommodations,” Gumbs said on Thursday.
The cruise line invites vacationers of all ages on board the world’s largest cruise ship to experience the ultimate combination of all-new adventures and Royal Caribbean favourites designed to inspire wonder and awe.
The ship is 1,188 feet long and 210 feet wide, with a gross tonnage of 236,857. She has a passenger capacity of more than 6,000 guests at double occupancy. Occupancy numbers through March averaged around 45-50 per cent and Gumbs said the port has noticed an uptick in that trend since the beginning of March. The crew onboard to serve the guests is 2,394, bringing the total capacity to more than 9,200.
Royal Caribbean’s sister ship Symphony of the Seas, built in 2018, held the top position until Wonder of the Seas was launched at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique (Saint-Nazaire, STX France) shipyard.
The vessel has 17 decks and cost US $1.35 billion to construct. Sister ships are Allure, Harmony, Oasis and Symphony of the Seas.
According to Royal Caribbean, guests will experience Wonder’s eight unique neighbourhoods – a Royal Caribbean first – variety and innovation come to life in a line-up of unparalleled thrills, more than 20 restaurants, bars and lounges, and show-stopping entertainment.
Highlights include Suite Neighborhood. The new, eighth neighbourhood welcomes Royal Suite Class guests to a private Suite Sun Deck in a new location, which features a plunge pool and bar, in addition to favourites such as exclusive restaurant Coastal Kitchen, the Suite Lounge and the grandest Ultimate Family Suite yet for a family of 10.
The ship features the Mason Jar Southern Restaurant and Bar where Southern comfort food meets Royal Caribbean’s hospitality and creativity. On the menu are staples and new twists on classics for brunch, dinner and late at night, along with live country music, farmhouse-style decor, a collection of 19 American whiskeys and other Southern libations.
Wonder Playscape, the underwater-themed play area, is a whole new outdoor adventure for families with children. Slides, climbing walls, games, interactive activities that come alive by touch, imaginative puzzles and light shows engage young travellers in more ways than one. Nearby is Royal Caribbean’s signature mini golf course, Wonder Dunes, with a new look and features.
At the centre of the Caribbean vibes is the pool deck, where the new cantilevered Vue Bar joins the line-up of poolside hotspots, including the popular Lime and Coconut, live music; The Perfect Storm, a trio of high-speed waterslides; children’s aqua park Splashaway Bay; and the adults-only Solarium.
Thrill-seekers can chase the waves on the FlowRider surf simulator, race down the tallest slide at sea, The Ultimate Abyss; brave the 10-story-high zip line; scale twin rock climbing walls; explore any one of the eight neighbourhoods, like Central Park and its 20,000-plus real plants; or take in original entertainment across four “stages”: air, ice, water and theatre, including inTENse, which features high-diving feats, slacklining, aerial acrobatics and more performed by the first all-female cast in the AquaTheater, the one-of-a-kind amphitheatre.