Cruising from Port Canaveral on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas

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Kelsey Parry

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Cruising from Port Canaveral on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas
Curator’s statement

While just narrowly having been knocked out of first place for the world’s largest ship, Wonder of the Seas is certainly not out of the running for one of the best options for a cruise vacation! Next-level specialty dining exclusive to the ship, upgraded attractions and cabins, and a suites-only neighborhood are just some reasons Wonder of the Seas is a great option for travelers who want to make the most of their holiday.

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Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas is a marvel of cruise luxury, setting sail with an array of thrilling activities, world-class entertainment and innovative amenities. As the largest cruise ship globally, it offers an unparalleled seafaring experience, combining comfort and excitement on a grand scale.

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Ship Overview

Wonder of the Seas, the fifth Oasis-class ship of six in the Royal Caribbean fleet, is currently the newest and most luxurious of its ship class (and will hold that title until Utopia of the Seas launches later this summer). Wonder of the Seas has all the bells and whistles like The Ultimate Abyss dry slide, exclusive restaurants such as The Mason Jar, and innovative rooms with better storage and outlets. Wonder of the Seas has you covered for those who enjoy the newest and expect the greatest Oasis-class vacation.

Looking for tips and tricks regarding planning and Royal Caribbean cruising expectations in general? Find my full guide to Royal Caribbean tips and tricks here.

What to Know When Cruising the Eastern Caribbean

Cruising from Port Canaveral opens up a plethora of options in terms of Caribbean itineraries. On my sailing, we opted for an Eastern Caribbean route that included Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas, St. Thomas, USVI, and Sint Maarten.

For more information about cruising out of Port Canaveral, please see my separate guide, a Pre-Cruise Guide to Port Canaveral, Florida.

Itinerary Overview

Day 1: Embark in Port Canaveral

Day 2: Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas

Day 3: Sea Day

Day 4: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

Day 5: Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

Day 6: Sea Day

Day 7: Sea Day

Day 8: Disembark in Port Canaveral

Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas

The holy grail of private islands, Perfect Day at CocoCay has something for everyone, including those with no set plans. Remember to check out a towel before leaving the ship, as you will need to bring your own (though they do have a kiosk on the beach if you forget). Bring your equipment along instead of renting from Royal Caribbean for those interested in snorkeling.

Hideaway Beach is the newest addition to Perfect Day at CocoCay and is a fantastic option for adults only (though comes at an additional cost). However, that additional cost gains entrance into arguably one of the island's best areas, where Royal Caribbean has replicated all of Perfect Day at CocoCay’s best features in one location. The area has more bars available to guests, a larger swim-up bar area with a DJ, a heated pool, a pizza/empanada food stall in addition to Snack Shack, a sports bar called On the Rocks, and best of all, the beach was designed as a well-secluded cove to limit waves (and hopefully jellyfish, which are an issue at some of the other beaches across the island).

Groups looking for an elevated food and beach experience should book the Coco Beach Club or one of the swanky cabanas within (again, booking a cabana here might be cheaper than individual tickets, depending on the number in your group). The lunch at Coco Beach Club is top-notch, with filet mignon, lobster, and a fantastic tapas spread (among other options). Beach loungers in this area come with towels, so there is no need to check out towels from the ship. Compared to Hideaway Beach, which is 18+ only, Coco Beach Club allows children.

Coco Beach Club on Perfect Day at CocoCay

Kelsey Parry

Thrill Waterpark boasts the tallest waterslide in North America (as well as six other great slide options). For large families, it is worth noting that booking a cabana at Thrill Waterpark might save money versus booking individual tickets.

Those looking to go on Up Up and Away, the helium balloon on Perfect Day at CocoCay, make sure you book through the Cruise Planner as soon as your cruise is confirmed. This books up quickly (but is often canceled/refunded due to inclement weather).

Bar service while enjoying the beach loungers across the island is hit or miss, so if you would rather not have to get up and make your way to a nearby bar, consider booking a cabana or day bed at one of the many “neighborhoods” across the island (which come with a dedicated server). South Beach is a bit more geared towards adults (and is the farthest away from the ship), while Breezy Bay and Chill Island are quite close and family-friendly.

Prices fluctuate greatly for Perfect Day at CocoCay, depending on ship and sail date, so consider booking your reservations in the Cruise Planner as soon as your booking is confirmed so you can be sure to snag the lowest prices possible.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

St. Thomas, a part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a beautiful stop offering numerous seafaring opportunities. Note that the Royal Caribbean cruise port in Charlotte Amelie is a few miles from town and not walkable (whereas other cruise lines dock very close to Charlotte Amelie). St. Thomas is one of the only locations within the U.S. and its territories that drive on the left side of the road (though the vehicle's driver’s seat is still on the left, per the usual in the U.S.). Traffic in St. Thomas is notoriously terrible, so consider booking an excursion versus navigating alone to ensure you return to the ship on time.

Excursions through Royal Caribbean are certainly the easiest, and if going this route, there are many various options revolving around St. John and catamarans that are great options. However, an even better option is to book through a local excursion vendor for small group trips, as it is quite difficult to see things like sea turtles in Trunk Bay when so many other tourists are on the same catamaran in the same area at the same time.

Also note for planning purposes that arrival and departure times into and out of St. Thomas are often quite awkwardly scheduled (i.e., arriving early morning and departing midday or arriving early afternoon and departing late evening).

Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

Sint Maarten (Saint Martin) is a beautiful island that is split between its French north side (Saint Martin) and Dutch south side (Sint Maarten). It is important to note that Wonder of the Seas docks in Philipsburg, on the island's Dutch side when planning independent excursions. Paid (easily navigable) ferries are very close to the cruise port and take you a short distance to the town of Philipsburg. However, note that Philipsburg is much like other mainstream cruise ports with many Diamonds International storefronts, etc. If looking for a quainter, more local town adventure, head over to the French side and visit Grand Case or Orient Bay for better culinary and beach options.

Grand Case has many local beach clubs and/or restaurant options along the beach to choose from upon arrival. Lolo’s/Cynthia’s Talk of the Town is one of the most highly recommended, as are Rainbow Café and Captain Frenchy SXM. Grand Case has some lovely, upscale dinner dining options such as Le Cottage, L’Auberge Gourmande, and Le Pressoir, though these are sadly unlikely to work on a cruise schedule.

On Orient Bay, consider stopping at Chez Leandra for lunch or Le P’tit Bistro at dinner (if by some miracle the ship in is port long enough).

Formal Night on Wonder of the Seas. Kelsey Parry dressed up with a companion on the ship.

Image 1: Formal Night on Wonder of the Seas ; Image 2: Ice Skating in Studio B

Chefs Table on Wonder of the Seas - Kelsey Parry

Image 1: Chefs Table on Wonder of the Seas ; Image 2: Giovannis Wine Bar on Wonder of the Seas

Need to Know

Packing Considerations

Eastern Caribbean cruises have myriad routes and stops, with everything you would expect from a warm, sunny Caribbean cruise. Plan to bring plenty of bathing suits, cover-ups, flip-flops, and sunscreen (be sure to check local regulations on sunscreen in places such as St. Thomas). Depending on your excursions, water shoes might be a good idea if rocky beach entrances are involved.

7-day cruises on Wonder of the Seas will include two formal nights (usually night 2 and night 6), so bring some dressier attire if you feel comfortable. You will see everything from sundresses to ball gowns and tuxedos. Other theme nights include the '70s, '90s, Caribbean, and white nights, so bring along whatever you are able to fit!

Ship Based Activities

AquaTheater - One of the best features of Oasis-class ships, Wonder’s AquaTheater show InTENse is not to be missed. Make sure to book reservations through the Cruise Planner website beginning roughly 60 days prior to departure. Consider booking for Day 2 or later, as rougher seas when departing Florida sometimes cause Day 1’s performance to be rescheduled.

Studio B - The ice rink featured on most Royal Caribbean ships (not included on Quantum-class ships) is another must-see element of Wonder of the Seas. Each Royal Caribbean ship’s ice show has a different theme, Wonder’s being called 365: Seasons on Ice. 365: Seasons on Ice has a storyline that revolves loosely around the four seasons (plus a fun nod to Game of Thrones). The costumes and talent are absolutely top-notch and should be booked in advance through the Cruise Planner website. Studio B also offers ice skating for guests at multiple points during the cruise, so remember to pack pants and socks if you are interested (they provide the skates and helmets).

Royal Theater - Wonder of the Seas does not have an official Broadway show; instead, it chooses to continue the storyline from Odyssey of the Seas’ Royal Theater show with The Effectors II - Crash N Burn. The story, written for Royal Caribbean exclusively, revolves around superheroes and uses next-level technology, such as drones, throughout the performance.

The Attic - Purpose-driven venue for the resident Oasis-class ship comedians. This venue will host comedy shows on many evenings of the cruise (note these are 18+ age-restricted). Activities like bingo, art auctions, and trivia are also hosted here during the day.

The Ultimate Abyss - Added during amplification in 2019, this dry slide is featured on Oasis-class ships (except Allure of the Seas) and takes riders from deck 16 aft all the way down to deck 6 aft and is accessed via deck 15.

Perfect Storm waterslides - Three water slides featured on the Wonder of the Seas pool deck. Note that the champagne/toilet bowl slide on the starboard side of the ship usually has a smaller line because many people get stuck in the “bowl” part.

Casino Royale - The onboard casino is enormous (just like all Oasis-class ships). It includes a separate non-smoking room (formerly the home of Jazz on 4), and both rooms have plenty of updated slot machines and table games.

Solarium - The adults-only pool deck section is partially covered at the front of the ship, deck 15.

Music Hall - A great two-story venue for music, game shows, and more, featured on newer/updated Quantum and Oasis-class ships (called Dazzles on older ships). Make sure to see Finish that Lyric in this venue, which is a fun competition for those who are lyrically inclined (however, on Wonder of the Seas, Finish that Lyric is held in the AquaTheater, weather permitting).

Crazy Quest - Seemingly back on most Royal Caribbean cruises regardless of length, this adults-only, no-holds-barred game show is hosted towards the end of the cruise in Studio B and is not for the faint of heart (or easily shocked/offended)! Find a seemingly fun group of people and hold on for a wild ride…

Royal Caribbean standbys also on Wonder of the Seas - Vitality Spa, FlowRider, Rock Climbing Wall, Wonder Dunes mini golf, and the sports court (including pickleball).

Dining on the Ship

Specialty Dining - Consider paying extra on an evening or two for a lovely dinner at one of the fabulous specialty dining locations onboard: Chops Grille, Chef’s Table, 150 Central Park, Izumi Sushi, Izumi Hibachi, Wonderland, Giovianni’s Italian Kitchen, Hooked Seafood, and The Mason Jar. The Mason Jar is also fabulous for brunch on a sea day.

Playmakers Sports Bar - Playmakers is a great addition to any Royal Caribbean ship, as it provides the first sports bar venue with plenty of television screens and great bar food for an additional cost (unless using the Unlimited Dining Plan).

Boardwalk Doghouse - Included in the cruise fare and has various choices of hot dogs and sausages for grab-and-go dining.

Johnny Rockets - A little-known perk of Johnny Rockets on Oasis-class ships is that breakfast is free and, therefore, a great alternative to the Windjammer or Solarium Bisto on sea days. Note that there is a separate line for milkshakes, which are included in the unlimited drink package.

Coastal Kitchen* - A lovely, upscale dining venue for those booked in Junior Suites and above, connected to the Suite Lounge on deck 17.

El Loco Fresh - This is a great pool deck lunch option at no additional cost, which includes items like tacos, quesadillas, nachos, etc.

Park Cafe - Exclusive to Oasis-class ships, Park Cafe is a convenient option for a quick breakfast or lunch, including sandwiches (such as the Kummelweck), build-your-own salads, self-serve drinks, etc.

Windjammer - Included in your cruise fare and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Note that it also has nightly themes at dinner, which can be found in the daily Cruise Compass.

Main Dining Room - All three decks have the same nightly-themed menu and are included in your cruise fare.

Solarium Bistro - Included in the cruise fare, an easy alternate option to the Windjammer for those who already find themselves forward on the upper ship decks near the Solarium.

Cafe Promenade - The only 24-hour food and drink venue on the ship, Cafe Promenade has a specialty coffee bar (included in the unlimited drinks package), self-serve coffee, tea, water, and light snacks throughout the day.

Sorrentos - Royal Caribbean’s quintessential pizza joint on all ships. Set expectations and enjoy this venue late night, as it is one of the only food options open until ~2:00 am.

Bars on Wonder of the Seas

Boleros - This location is perfect for festive music, specialty cocktails trending toward rum-based, and a great vibe. Make sure to give the Hemmingway Daiquiri a try.

Cask & Clipper - The nightly staple English pub on all Royal Caribbean ships with live guitar music and televisions for important sporting events.

The Vue Bar - Replacing the port-side cantilevered hot tub near the solarium on other Oasis-class ships, this is exclusive to Wonder of the Seas bar and is a great location for sailaway views.

The Mason Jar Bar - If you do not snag reservations at the Mason Jar restaurant, consider going to the bar instead, which also serves food amidst a great ambiance of live nightly music and rocking chairs facing the water.

Schooner Bar - Another staple of Royal Caribbean ships, with the largest bar selection. Nightly piano bar performances, daily trivia, and many other activities will be held at this happening location. Try their new cocktail, the Sea & T, if you enjoy gin and tonics.

Giovanni’s Wine Bar - A rustic Italian vibe makes the wine bar next to Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen a great place to have a pre-dinner drink, catch up on the day with friends and family, or grab a bite to eat from the restaurant next door (at an extra cost).

Spotlight Karaoke - While most commonly known for hosting karaoke, this bar will feature visual trivia games and televised sports events throughout the day.

Rising Tide Bar - Take a ride and enjoy a cocktail while this bar moves (very slowly) between the Royal Promenade on deck 5 and Central Park on deck 8.

Wipeout Bar - A great spot to watch the excitement of sailaway, the FlowRiders, and the Ultimate Abyss, this bar is at the very aft of the ship, accessed via deck 15.

Bionic Bar - Robotic bartenders make your classic or custom drink right before your eyes.

Starbucks - Technically not serving alcohol, but just as important, this full Starbucks location on the Boardwalk is not included in the unlimited drinks package (but guests are able to use their normal Starbucks app for purchase, if desired).

Other mainstays of Royal Caribbean Oasis-class bars on Wonder of the Seas - Music Hall venue, Casino Royale, Suite Lounge* (for Grand Suite and above guests only), Crown Lounge* (for Crown and Anchor Diamond status guests and above only), Solarium, Trellis Bar in Central Park, Lime & Coconut Pool Bars, Vitality Cafe (for fresh juices, smoothies, and protein shakes included in the unlimited drinks package), Suite Sundeck Bar* (for Grand Suite and above guests only).

Advisor - Kelsey Parry

Travel Advisor

Kelsey Parry

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