It looks like Royal Caribbean might be bringing back their WOW Bands.
Symphony of the Seas departed on a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise in February 11, 2023, and to many guests' surprise, they found that they were once again able to purchase WOW Bands at Guest Services!
Here's everything you need to know about the soft relaunch of WOW Bands onboard Symphony of the Seas.
What are WOW Bands and what can you use them for?
WOW Bands are silicone ready-to-wear, water-resistant wristbands that come equipped with RFID chips. They are a great option for those who do not like to carry around their SeaPass while onboard. With the tap of your wrist, everything is billed directly to your onboard account; there is still no need to carry cash or credit cards.
All guests are able to purchase and wear WOW Bands; they are neither Crown & Anchor nor suite exclusive benefits.
The wristbands can be used for everything onboard except the casino. You can open your stateroom door, make onboard purchases, access lounges (for suite guests and select Crown & Anchor members), and even order a drink with your drink package.
Note that if you are ordering a drink on the pool deck or casino, the bartenders are not equipped with mobile scanners. You will have to take off your wristband and/or provide your stateroom number. If you order at a physical bar, they are able to tap your WOW Band while it is on your wrist.
If you are disembarking the ship in ports of call, you will need to use your physical SeaPass. It is best to leave your WOW Band inside of your stateroom when you are disembarking the ship for the day.
How much do WOW Bands cost?
WOW Bands can be purchased at Guest Services for $5.99 each (yep, there was a price increase!). If you have an old WOW Band on hand, you are able to reuse it! Just make sure that you stop by Guest Services, so they can encode it for your specific voyage.
There are three colors available for guests to choose from: white, black, and blue. Every band costs the same, regardless of what color is chosen. On this specific cruise, yellow was not available, even though it was in the past.
The price also stays the same throughout the cruise, whether you buy it on the first last or last day. If using a WOW Band interests you, you will get the most out of the price by purchasing the wristband as early as possible.
What is it like using a WOW Band while onboard?
I found out about WOW Bands on day 2 of my 7-night cruise and immediately went to Guest Services to purchase one!
I never heard Royal Caribbean make an announcement that WOW Bands were available. I saw other guests wearing them and deduced that they were brought back.
My family and I purchased WOW Bands on our Harmony of the Seas cruise in 2018, and we never really used them because of how many issues we had. My dad said he remembered us regularly visiting Guest Services to have them replaced.
Since that was my last cruise before the pandemic and Royal Caribbean discontinuing the bands, I was eager to try out all of the features.
Since I have a drink package, my first stop, obviously, was the bar. I went to Boleros and ordered a glass of champagne at the bar; it was a seamless process!
The scanner has some difficultly reaching where I was sitting, so I assume if you were sitting at the far end of the bar or in the lounge area, you would have to take off your wristband and/or provide your stateroom number.
I had no trouble opening my stateroom door. In fact, I prefer using the WOW Band for that, as I keep my SeaPass in my phone case and have to pull it out whenever I want to enter my cabin. Having the WOW Band will make it easier to get into my stateroom tonight when I return with Sorrento's pizza and a drink! Last night, I struggled opening my door with pizza in one hand and my soda cup in the other.
My next stop was the pool deck. I was disappointed to learn that the bartenders do not carry mobile scanners with them, as that kind of defeats the purpose of the WOW Bands; I asked a few different bartenders if they were able to tap my wristband from my lounger, and they all said no. I was able to provide my stateroom number without handing off my SeaPass or WOW Band.
Later on in the evening, I used the WOW Band to order drinks at Izumi during dinner and Schooner Bar. My waitress at Izumi did not have a mobile scanner, so she, too, had to take my stateroom number. At the Schooner Bar, the scanner only reached so far, so I had to get out of my seat to go tap the wristband.
Thus far, I have enjoyed the convenience of not carrying a SeaPass around; however, I wish Royal Caribbean had better outfitted their staff to be able to accommodate guests with the bands. Having to take off my wristband, provide my cabin number, or physically move closer to the scanner seems to defeat the purpose of paying extra for it.
What if you do not want to use a WOW Band?
WOW Bands are totally optional. If you do not wish to pay for one, you can continue to use your SeaPass as normal.
Even if you opt to purchase a WOW Band, you can use your SeaPass whenever you feel like it.
Perhaps the WOW Band is not the right accessory for formal night. No worries! Buying a WOW Band will not tamper with the functionality of your SeaPass.
What ships have WOW Bands on them?
As of February 12, 2023, the only confirmed ship with WOW Bands onboard is Symphony of the Seas. Royal Caribbean has not made an announcement as to when they expect to roll them out on the rest of the fleet. In fact, they never even announced their launch on Symphony of the Seas.
When you board your ship, you can always head to Guest Services to see if they are available. If not, you will just have to use your SeaPass as normal!