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Wonder of the Seas: Big in size, big in fun : Travel Weekly

Wonder of the Seas: Big in size, big in fun : Travel Weekly

I’m a sucker for a big ship. For me, it’s like a trip to Manhattan — I love the hubbub, the restaurants, the shows.

It’s no surprise, then, that my first four days aboard Wonder of the Seas’ inaugural cruise did not disappoint.

Can the newest and biggest ship on the seas also be the most fun? On the Wonder, the extra space has been carefully and wisely put to use to add the touches customers have been asking for.

A giant cowboy hat on the marvel adds to the fun. Photo credit: Cheryl Rosen

There’s more water to play and relax in, more art to look at, more technology for entertainment. There is more room for families and children to spend time together or apart. There’s more country in the music and more southern in the food. And from November, there will be the pleasure of homeporting near Orlando.

Here’s what makes Wonder of the Seas more fun:

The Suite area

Suite guests can spend the whole week in their private space if they wish. They have their own terrace, lounge and restaurant. (I’ll have more on the Suite neighborhood in a later report.)

Expansion of the swimming pool deck

Everything is bigger and prettier around the swimming pools. The children’s water park has moved closer to the adults, making it easier for families. There’s a Cantina Fresca that serves craft margaritas and other cocktails. There are lounge chairs in the water. The big screen is bigger. You can’t go wrong with more things to do, eat and drink while you’re in your bathing suit.

Kids playing at Splashaway Bay are now closer to the adult-only area on the pool deck.

Kids playing at Splashaway Bay are now closer to the adult-only area on the pool deck. Photo credit: Cheryl Rosen

New shows with something for everyone

Three shows – “Tap Factory”, the new “Intense” and the new “365: The Seasons on Ice” – use more technology and fewer words. This makes them even more fun for children, the hearing impaired and those who are not native English speakers.

“Intense” features an all-female cast performing stunts and stunts in the AquaTheater. The new ice show at Studio B’s ice rink is an expression of the changing seasons through the movement of skaters.

Joining the lineup in July will be “The Effectors II: Crash ‘n’ Burn” at the Royal Theatre. The original “Effectors” is a tech-focused, drone-flying hit about superheroes and villains that’s currently running on Odyssey of the Seas.

Enlarged teen area

Didn’t see it, as no adults are allowed. But I heard it was amazing, with an indoor area with video games and an outdoor area with a hot tub and teen bar. (Sraddha Maganti, 13, from Texas, said it was “super cool, and I met tons of new people of all ages and places, and they were super nice!”

The greatest Windjammer Café ever

There is now an aisle of couches to chat and wait for your group to show up. There are more sinks to wash your hands. And, the new design offers a new kind of best seat in the house, overlooking Central Park and beyond to the AquaTheater and then the sea.

The magnificent view from the Windjammer.

The magnificent view from the Windjammer. Photo credit: Cheryl Rosen

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The port barbecue is out, Mason Jar is in

I miss Portside BBQ, where you could get a smoked meat sandwich of pulled pork, beef brisket, or turkey plus a side and dessert for $7.99 on Oasis of the Seas. I knew it wouldn’t last.

The Mason Jar serves Southern classics.  Dinner is $39.99 per person.

The Mason Jar serves Southern classics. Dinner is $39.99 per person. Photo credit: Cheryl Rosen

At the new Mason Jar on the Wonder, customers can order smoked ribs and beef brisket, along with many other Southern classics such as pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, oyster po’boys and fried chicken. The choice is greater and the price much higher: $39.99 per person for dinner and $24.99 for brunch. Reservations are recommended.

A return to Labadee

Since Royal Caribbean’s private Haitian destination in Labadee is back, I finally took the plunge and gave in to my family’s urgings that only chickens refuse to try the soaring and exhilarating 60-story zipline , which they swore would not hurt my back or scare me.

They were right. Experts say what adult travelers want these days is a safe adventure, and ziplining qualifies.

The author prepares to ride the zipline in Labadee.

The author prepares to ride the zipline in Labadee. Photo credit: Cheryl Rosen