Experiencing Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas as a Disney Fan
It will come as no surprise that I am a huge Disney fan. I love visiting Walt Disney World and exploring the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Resorts. It’s a familiar yet exciting adventure each time I trek down to Orlando, and I always seem to experience something new. Last spring, I sailed on the Disney Dream, the third ship in Disney Cruise Line’s fleet, and relished the experience. It was everything I love about the Disney Parks in one floating package encompassing music, magic, and magnificent storytelling.
In December of 2022, I had the opportunity to embark on an inaugural voyage on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Wonder of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship. While I was beyond excited to experience this incredible ship, I had limited knowledge about Royal Caribbean. I had teammates who had sailed with them and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, yet for me, Royal was missing that intrinsic familiarity that accompanied a Disney Cruise. What would it be like to sail the seas without Mickey and Minnie at the helm?
Come with me as I share the joy and excitement as a Disney fan experiencing the entertainment and truly unique sense of whimsy onboard Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas!
1. Entertainment – “Think BIG”
When you sail with Disney Cruise Line, you have a fairly good idea of the kind of entertainment you will experience onboard. There’s an expectation for grand, family-friendly shows that touch your heart – shows that feature familiar characters embarking on quests that create pleasant waves of nostalgia. Indeed, attending a performance of Beauty & the Beast remains one of my most cherished memories from sailing on the Disney Dream. I knew exactly what I was walking into and adored every moment.
On the contrary, I had absolutely no idea what to expect regarding the spectacles and shows offered on the Wonder of the Seas. My fellow teammates told me to expect “bigger” entertainment from Royal Caribbean, whatever they meant by that, and I greatly anticipated my first exposure to these shows.
Well, it turns out “bigger” was the perfect descriptor.
The Royal Theater on the Wonder of the Seas spans two decks and has a capacity of 1,397 persons. It is elegantly decorated with royal blue and gold carpeting and a sumptuous chandelier that I couldn’t help but find “Hidden Mickeys” in. I guess you can take the girl out of Disney, but you can’t take Disney out of the girl.
We watched The Effectors II: Crash n’ Burn, a superhero story that incorporated impressive drone technology and featured popular modern songs. While I did not find the plot particularly memorable, there’s something to be said about witnessing a person-lizard hybrid astride a purple dinosaur, strutting across the stage and belting out Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
We then migrated to the AquaTheater, an entertainment venue that hosts the deepest pool at sea and two 30-foot diving boards. Here, we experienced inTENse: Maximum Performance, an extraordinary display of athleticism wherein a synchronized troupe of divers perform a series of depth-defying dives, twists, and walk tight ropes. inTENse set the mood with popular music, working familiar songs into its routines. This was my favorite performance on the Wonder of the Seas, and we even caught bits of it the following night while we ate dinner in the Boardwalk neighborhood.
The final show we experienced on the ship was 365: The Seasons on Ice, which took place, you guessed it, on an ice-skating rink: a perfectly curated slab of ice – on a cruise ship – in the middle of the Bahamas! Amazing! I had never seen an ice show before and thoroughly enjoyed watching the performers glide through each season with varied, elaborate, and fun techniques. This show also used popular music as its backdrop.
At first, it was strange to hear popular music accompany these larger-than-life performances. It took me outside of the entertainment, reminding me that there was a world outside of the ship. In contrast, when you sail with Disney, most everything is, well, Disney! In my experience, it feels much like the Disney Parks, where reality is muted in favor of bright colors and fanciful feelings. Everything on a Disney ship is cohesive and is there to make you feel part of a larger story. That said, using popular music worked very well for the spectacular shows on Wonder of the Seas and put the focus on the athleticism and thrilling entertainment being provided to guests.
2. Whimsical Dives Down the Rabbit Hole, Astride a Jaguar Carousel “Horse”
While cohesive storytelling wasn’t necessarily an element on the Wonder of the Seas, there were a plethora of interesting, provocative, and sometimes just plain-odd moments of whimsy that had me doing a double-take. Queue the performer wheeling a full-size player piano into an elevator to serenade guests as they navigated all 15 decks of this magnificent ship.
Here are my top 5 most unique and interesting things I came across during my time on the Wonder of the Seas:
1. The Central Park Neighborhood: an open-air area of the ship with lush gardens, restaurants, coffee shops, and fascinating statues of elephants, astronauts, and fruit-toting forest folk
2. The unique statues, foliage, and topiaries in the Solarium, an area for guests who are at least 16 years of age
3. Wonderland: Imaginative Cuisine: a dining experience that literally takes guests through the looking glass, down the rabbit hole, and into a curious world of oddities and art. Even the elevators near the restaurant are themed to the classic Lewis Carroll tale of Alice in Wonderland and feature characters like the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, and the Mad Hatter.
4. The imaginative carousel in the Boardwalk neighborhood features not only wood-carved horses but also lions, cheetahs, and jaguars – oh my!
5. The Bionic Bar, where robots make your beverages! There are many drinks to choose from, including a fair selection of zero-proof and non-alcoholic options. It was surreal watching my “Rainbow” mocktail mixed by a mechanical bartender and slide over to me with just a tap of my room key.
I loved sailing with Royal Caribbean and would absolutely book another cruise on either the Wonder of the Seas or another ship in their vast fleet. While it was undoubtedly different than cruising with Disney, it maintained that magical and surreal element that I appreciate in my vacations. If you’re a Disney fan like me and unsure if you’d enjoy a Royal Caribbean cruise, I urge you to look into the unique elements offered by this cruise line. Our Cruise Specialists are an amazing resource and would love to answer all your questions!