ORLANDO, Fla. — What will officially become the world’s largest cruise ship proved it could turn to the left, turn the right and criss-cross as Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas began its series of sea trials this month.
The fifth in the Oasis class for the line, Wonder of the Seas is a sister ship to 2008’s Oasis of the Seas, 2009’s Allure of the Seas, 2016’s Harmony of the Seas and 2018’s Symphony of the Seas.
Each ship has been incrementally heavier in terms of gross tons so that they have been able to hold the moniker of world’s largest cruise ship.
Wonder of the Seas remains under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, gearing up for its debut in March 2022.
Leaving the shipyard on Aug. 20, the vessel sailed 1,550 nautical miles with 500 workers on board for its first sea trials, testing out its propulsion, navigation and engine performance systems.
While its four sister ships primarily call Florida home among Port Canaveral, Port Everglades an PortMiami, Wonder of the Seas will be headed for China when it debuts.
The current title holder, Symphony of the Seas, comes in at 228,081 gross tons, is 1,188 feet long and has a maximum capacity of 6,680 guests with 2,200 crew. At double capacity, though, the guest count is 5,518 from 2,759 staterooms.
Wonder of the Seas will debut with a gross tonnage of 236,857, also be 1,188 feet long, but have a 6,988-guest maximum capacity, the highest among all Oasis-class ships with 2,867 staterooms.
Wonder of the Seas builds on its sister ships’ neighborhood concept, adding a new eighth neighborhood called the Suite Neighborhood. Still on board will be the Central Park space in the interior, Boardwalk, Pool & Sports Zone, Entertainment Place, Royal Promenade, Vitality Spa & Fitness Center and Youth Zone.
The Suite Neighborhood is for suite guests only, similar to approaches taken on lines like MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line. It will have its own dining, sun deck and lounge.
The ship will also have the popular Ultimate Abyss dry slide, zip line, AquaTheater, twin rock-climbing walls, carousel, FlowRider, ice skating rink and Perfect Storm water park.
Wonder of the Seas had its first steel cut in April 2019 with its keel-laying in October of that year. It was originally to have debuted this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed construction.
It will be the first Oasis-class vessel to debut in the Asian market, a move that Royal Caribbean had done for several versions of its Quantum-class ships.
“China continues to be one of the most important parts of the world for Royal Caribbean. We have won the trust of our partners and the favor of travelers and built on that significantly since we first set sail 12 years ago,” said Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley in a press release.
The line plans to sail the shop from Shanghai and Hong Kong, China in 2022 on four- to nine-night voyages. March-November trips from Shanghai will visit Japan among its itineraries including stops in Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Ishigaki and Miyazaki, Japan. From November 2022 to January 2023, Wonder will sail from Hong Kong with stops among its itineraries in Chan May, Vietnam; Busan and Jeju, South Korea; Kochi and Okinawa, Japan; and Taipei, China.
Wonder of the Seas will hold the world’s largest cruise ship title until a sixth Oasis-class ship, also to be built at Chantiers de l’Atlantique, comes online in 2024.