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A Year of Wonder! One More Time! (10/29/23-11/05/23... 7-Night, Eastern Caribbean)


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DAY 7:  * SEA DAY * - (SAT, 11/4)… LAST DAY! 😪

We woke up and stepped onto our balcony to find the Caribbean Princess just off the port side of the ship. Today is the last day of the cruise, I’m assuming she is also heading back to Florida to conclude her sailing.


We had breakfast once again in the Solarium Bistro. My wife's uncle and GF headed back to their cabin to start packing. We also began packing, but then decided to head to the Solarium for some quality hot tub (and pool) time. My wife is a water baby and I can’t keep her away for too long! 😄

Here’s that double hot tub that cantilevers over the side of the ship on the starboard side (right side) of the ship just as you enter the Solarium. Amazing views from that hot tub!





Just a couple more pics of the Solarium…



For lunch, we all met at Hooked Seafood…





Nice biscuits…


Most of us had the Claim & Crab Chowder… also very nice…


Half of us had the Maine Lobster Roll and the other half had the Messy Fish Sandwich…





… a side of Cajun French Fries…


For dessert, I had the Coconut Cream Pie… My wife of course had the Decadent Chocolate Brownie…



After lunch, we all went back to pack some more. We met in the Solarium an hour or so before dinner to relax in the padded loungers by the windows.

Our final dinner was at Giovanni’s…

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DAY 7:  * SEA DAY * - (SAT, 11/4)… Conclusion!

We headed to dinner at Giovanni’s… 


The rolls/garlic knots they bring out to the table were very good! We also ordered Caesar Salads and a Meatball Gigante…



I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana. Not New York Italian restaurant good, but still very tasty. 😆


For dessert…


We ordered Mamma’s Tiramisu, Go Bananas, and the Pistachio Panna Cotta…




… all delicious!

After dinner, yep… back to cabin to pack some more! 

Tonight we have the rescheduled Aqua Theater show, “inTENse: Maximum Performance”. Once again, we just showed up 20 minutes before the show and sat dead center in the theater. We skipped the Key reserved section this time because last time on Wonder (last JAN) it was on the far left of the theater.











Once again, we were dead center and the performers would often pass just above my head!




















Soooo close… felt like she could have walked on my head as she passed over me!



The show was amazing as always! Just like the ice skating show, completely unique to Royal.

After the show I took a few pics of Central Park and then headed back to the cabin to complete packing.

CP from Decks 15 & 16 facing forward…



Now, looking to the rear/aft of the ship…





Peeking down in to the Royal Promenade…


Bags packed with the Key tags… saddest sight! 



I’ll be back to wrap up the final morning, etc.

Have a good evening everyone!


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DAY 8:  * DEBARKATION DAY * - (SUN, 11/5)

Oh noooo! The dreaded morning arrived all too soon!  😫

I woke up earlier than Christine (surprise, surprise 😆) and saw some lights shining through the balcony curtains. We were already docked at Cruise Terminal 1 and the MSC Seaside passed by us making her way into Port Canaveral.




We met up with the rest of our party and headed to Deck 4 of the MDR for our final special “Key” breakfast.


I ordered my usual, the “Royal VIP Signature” breakfast with Smoked Sausage Links, and some freshly squeezed OJ (gotta milk that DBP until the very end!).


We finished breakfast, grabbed our carry-ons, and headed to the Royal Promenade to exit the ship (same level, Deck 4). After we snaked our way down the ramps through the terminal and down to the luggage claim area, we found our bags in the designated “Key” area. Customs was easy since they utilize the facial recognition equipment in Port Canaveral.

Our “Fly, Stay, and Cruise” package purchased through the Radisson, also included shuttle service directly from the port to the Orlando airport. We had a 9:00 am pickup with Cocoa Beach Express, but we got to the parking garage literally two minutes late (9:02 am) and they had just left! We saw them pull away! 😳 The parking garage was a madhouse as our sailing had a very large group of disabled guests onboard, many in wheelchairs, that understandably created a logistical nightmare for these shuttle services! The woman handling the Cocoa Beach Express check-ins was frazzled and kept saying that this has never happened before.

We were a little aggravated when they explained that the next airport shuttle would not arrive until 10:00 am! I wasn’t too stressed since we now have TSA PreCheck. Last time, it was a disaster at MCO waiting to get through security (45-50 minutes), so we applied for the TSA PreCheck as soon as we returned so we would never go through that stressful delay again!

Thankfully, the Cocoa Beach Express folks were kind and called dispatch to arrange for another smaller shuttle to pick us up around 9:20 am so we didn't have to wait until the 10:00 am shuttle. We made it to the airport a little after 10:00 am with plenty of time to spare! I love the TSA PreCheck as there was barely a line and we did not have to take anything out of our bags, remove our shoes, etc., when going through security!

The return flight was uneventful… we had a changeover at Baltimore (BWI) before returning home to Islip/MacArthur (ISP) on time.

I'll be back to finally 😆 wrap this blog up with my final thoughts/comments and observations!

Thanks for following along! 😀

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Final Wrap-Up, Random Thoughts & Observations

As with every other cruise with Royal Caribbean to date, we all had an absolutely amazing time!  😎

Airports & Cruise Port

  • Islip/LI MacArthur Airport (ISP) is an absolute pleasure to fly into and out of especially when you can book a non-stop early AM flight. We’re lucky that Southwest offers non-stop flights to Orlando (MCO) and Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) and that we can purchase the resident parking passes for the airport (ISP). We also now have TSA PreCheck, but with such an early flight, we didn’t need it as we flew through security (no line)!
  • Orlando Intl. Airport was a pleasure this time around (vs. JAN 2023). The TSA PreCheck line was almost non-existent and we flew through security once again.
  • Port Canaveral was also a pleasure to navigate overall with the Key. Our hotel shuttle bus was able to pull into Cruise Terminal 1 without traffic delays. We booked the earliest boarding window (10:30am-11:00am), but the terminal passenger traffic outside was building up already. Once we entered the terminal, we could see it was completely full and the line was growing outside! I can’t imagine that all of these people had early boarding times! 🤔

Thankfully, there was a dedicated “Key” line to the far left just inside the terminal doors and we flew through the terminal to security with little to no waiting time. Once through security, we went up the escalator and we were greeted by dedicated cruise terminal employees that expedited our check-in process. The ship had started boarding, so we just walked past the waiting area and boarded the ship… no sitting/waiting/standing in line at any time in the terminal. We were in the Royal Promenade in no time!


We liked the Radisson Resort at the Port (Port Canaveral). Nice property with an on-site full-service restaurant (Flamingo’s 🦩) and so close to the port (we could see the top of the ship from the hotel). They offered a shuttle to the port (included for us since we booked the “Fly, Stay, and Cruise” package).

Just keep in mind that this hotel is designed like a motel. Room doors open up to the outside. The décor was also very dated and badly in need of an update or “amplification” 😆 (textured walls and old dark brown colonial furniture), but the room was clean and served its purpose.

Dining Experience

  • We only had dinner once in the MDR this sailing (formal evening #2 – lobster🦞tails) and the food and service was fine and as expected. On our last sailing on Wonder (JAN 2023), the MDR service was the worst we’ve experienced on Royal to date. The waiter on that sailing apologized profusely throughout the week and explained his assistant was a new trainee.
  • We purchased the Unlimited Dining Package for the first time for this sailing. We ate primarily in specialty restaurants. Service in all of the specialty restaurants was amazing as usual. The waiters all went out of their way to ensure that we were completely satisfied with our meals. One of the folks in our party needs to follow a gluten-free diet and they were all very accommodating.
  • Service at the Coco Beach Club restaurant, as well as the bar service, was outstanding as always! The food was delicious once again.
  • Loved having the Starbucks machines/products in the Café Promenade. We made sure to work our DBP and ordered hot/iced coffees, cappuccinos, and Frappuccinos (I love the caramel) every day of the cruise! We usually ignore the Starbucks kiosks while onboard… the Lavazza coffee is normally good enough for us!

Perfect Day CocoCay

  • The beach club just never disappoints us! Once again, we were thankfully the only ship in port. We purchased it at $88.99 last BF/CM cruise planner sale, so we felt it was well worth it for the private resort feel, excellent service, and upgraded lunch (Surf & Turf). Next May (Icon), we booked Hideaway Beach for a change of pace as this was our third visit to the beach club.
  • The infinity pool temperature was perfect and never crowded. The beach was beautiful as well, but we spent most of our time in the infinity pool! This time we spent the whole day at the beach club. We normally explore the island, but decided to stay at the beach club this time.


  • We had an Oceanview balcony on this sailing (9156 – port side). My wife’s uncle had the same category cabin just down the hall (9186). We loved the location as we were just forward of the elevator tower and only one deck above our favorite neighborhood, Central Park! I love Oasis class since you can traverse the ship easily on three main decks to get to the other elevator tower and anywhere on the ship in between: Royal Promenade (5), Central Park (8), or the pool deck (15). No need to shuffle through narrow and winding stateroom hallways!
  • Our stateroom attendant (Timothy) was absolutely amazing. Very friendly and helpful. He must have a 6th sense as every time we exited the cabin, he would mysteriously appear in the hall outside and say “Hello!”. No sneaking past him! 🥷


  • The Aqua Theater show, “inTENse: Maximum Performance!” was excellent once again. On this sailing, due to slightly rough seas at times, they had to cancel multiple performances for the performer’s safety. Thankfully, our show was rescheduled automatically to the final evening and the show went off without a hitch.
  • Tap Factory: Energy Machine” in the Royal Theater is worth seeing if you did not catch it on another ship (we saw it on Odyssey) or previously on Wonder. We skipped it this time since we’ve seen it twice since last year and it’s our least favorite of the main production shows on Wonder.
  • Voices” in the Royal Theater was excellent once again! If you love vocalists and music from different eras, then you will likely love the show.
  • Ice Spectacular: 365” in Studio B was excellent as usual. Another unique experience only on Royal ships that we never miss. 
  • The Effectors II: Crash & Burn” in the Royal Theater. Simple plot… bad guy (Crash) escapes with help from new sidekick (Burn), tries to seek revenge by capturing each of the Effectors, and eventually is captured once again. It’s mostly about the technology including the lasers, drones, and drone “vehicle” that flies above the audience (think of the plane in “Flight” from what I understand) on the lower level. Some sequences were very similar to the original ”Effectors” on Odyssey (scenes introducing the characters). This time, we skipped the Key reserved seating section (upper level) and sat dead center on the lower level. Last time, sitting in the Key section, we felt disconnected from the show as all of the action (lasers, drones, etc.) appears in front of you and in the distance. Also, on the upper level, there is a balcony railing that tends to cut off the bottom of the stage. We all enjoyed the show much more this time as we were immersed in the action as the drones flew over us, etc.
  • We skipped the “Adult Comedy LIVE” show in The Attic this time. We were too tired to go to the 10:00 pm show.
  • The “All Access Ship Tour” was excellent! Something everyone should try to experience at some point! Of course, this is not necessarily something you would repeat on a regular basis.
  • The “Pickleball at Sea” beginner clinic was fun. We have never played before and I think my wife is hooked!

It’s amazing that we’ve spent 15 nights on Wonder this year and we still haven’t experienced all that she has to offer!

Random Thoughts and Observations

* We spent time in the solarium almost every day, but as was the case last January, we could not access the bridge wings on either side. They were always closed/roped off.

Photo packages:

Just an FYI, they apparently have changed the policy. Back in January, the photo packages included photos taken in specialty dining restaurants. Many of our best photos were taken during specialty dining at 150 Central Park, etc. At some point this year they must have changed the policy and now these photos are no longer included.

How did we find out? While eating in 150 Central Park, a photographer came by and took a number of photos. He returned later during the meal with printed photos presented in a nice cardboard portfolio. He explained that these photos are not included in the photo package and would cost us $29.99 for one, $39.99 for three, etc. When I showed him the photos we took at the same restaurant earlier this year on Wonder, he was very surprised. He had no explanation of course. We declined to purchase the photos out of principle. Before complaining to Guest Services, I checked the cruise planner description (we purchased the 20-photo package when it was $119.99) which now states these photos are excluded from the package.


* The Key:

Our first experience with the Key was back in May 2019 on Allure. What an amazing experience! We paid just $19.99 pp/day and it was worth every single penny! The embarkation day lunch was hosted in Chops Grille. The reserved seating sections were prime seating in the middle of the lower level in every venue. We were always just behind the suite guest reserved section. When we disembarked the ship on the last morning, we were personally escorted off the ship (in groups) to the dedicated customs line shared with Star class guests.

Following that experience, we purchased the Key for 3 of the next 4 sailings, but on each subsequent sailing, the cost increased and the benefits started to erode (currently $41.99 pp/day for our May Icon sailing – more than doubled!).

First, the Key embarkation day lunch was moved to the MDR. Our first experience with the Key lunch in the MDR was excellent, but the last few have not been nearly as good! The service has been progressively worse and it’s clear that they are utilizing trainees or newer crew members to help work these lunches. The temperature of the food is not consistent as well. Secondly, they moved the Key reserved sections to less than desirable locations IMHO in each venue. In the Aqua Theater and Studio B, the reserved section has been to the far left of the venue. In the Royal Theater, the reserved section is in the upper level. The problem with the upper level… sit too close to the railing and the bottom of the stage is cut off… sit too far back and the top of the stage area is blocked. Plus, with the more interactive shows like the Effectors, all of the action is over your head when you’re seated in the lower level. Finally, not as big a deal, you exit the ship on your own along with everyone else. No expedited debarkation process.

We still enjoy the carry-on drop off service on embarkation day and the debarkation day breakfast, but we really never took advantage of some of the other benefits. The dedicated reserved times for activities (Zipline, Ultimate Abyss, Rock Climbing Wall, etc.) often conflicted with port excursions so we’ve never been able to take advantage of this perk. Priority departure at ports has never really been necessary. I haven’t sailed an itinerary with the need to tender in over a decade (at the old Coco Cay last time in 2010! 😆) and whenever we go down to the gangway to depart the ship, there is little to no wait.

I think we’re probably going to pass on the Key next time and for the foreseeable future…

* Dining:

What is it with Royal constantly changing the MDR Traditional Dining times? We originally booked Early Traditional Dining at 5:30 pm. The cruise docs then moved it to 5:00 pm. OK, not a big deal… the same thing happened to us on Odyssey in 2022 and on Wonder this past January.

We board the ship, collect our Sea Passes which now all state My Time Dining? Thankfully, we only wanted to make one MDR reservation for Day 6 (Formal evening #2). We explained the situation and they booked us a table for four for 5:30 pm.

* Final observation/recommendation:

Always check your onboard account activity at least daily! We were probably just lucky in the past, but we’ve never had to correct charges to our account. On this sailing, we had numerous incorrect charges to our account. One erroneous charge involved the application of the C&A 50% off any glass of wine/beer benefit… we had the DBP! There should be no additional charge of course. I went to Guest Services and they apologized and removed the charge. The next erroneous charge was at Playmakers. I had ordered the chicken tenders appetizer and a soda. The appetizer was less than $10, well below the $20 credit from the UDP, and the soda is included in the DBP. Somehow, the waitress charged me for a $15 chicken sandwich? I noticed it while we were still there and I went directly to the bar and they removed the charge. We had a couple of other small charges which were removed. I wonder if they get confused with the UDP and DBP. Just remember there is always the potential for human error. You don’t want to notice these issues on the last day (nightmare lines at Guest Services) or after you return home when it’s often too late to do anything about it.


Bottom line, we had an amazing time and will continue to be loyal to Royal!

Having another cruise booked always makes disembarking the ship much less painful! Our next sailing will be in 6 months on Icon (5/11/24). Can’t wait to see what she has to offer! We’ll finally reach Diamond after that sailing (77 points now). I wish we lived in Florida so we could jump on a 3-nighter! 😎 🌴 🌞

Thanks so much for following along!

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you spoil us with content and pictures, @JohnK6404 and we are very grateful. 

i feel like i was aboard wonder with you all!

a real special treat to follow along and read through this journey, with well placed pictures and the REAL down and dirty on the good and not so good. 

i appreciate that you did not lose momentum once you arrived home + still gave us the best recap possible 💚 sometimes that’s harder once you’re off the ship — but not here!


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8 hours ago, JohnK6404 said:

We board the ship, collect our Sea Passes which now all state My Time Dining? Thankfully, we only wanted to make one MDR reservation for Day 6 (Formal evening #2). We explained the situation and they booked us a table for four for 5:30 pm.

Thanks for the blog @JohnK6404

I've learned from @BrianB that if you book UDP, they auto move you to MTD from traditional.  Glad it didn't impact you too negatively.

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18 hours ago, JohnK6404 said:

Back in January, the photo packages included photos taken in specialty dining restaurants. Many of our best photos were taken during specialty dining at 150 Central Park, etc. At some point this year they must have changed the policy and now these photos are no longer included.

They must have changed that right after your January cruise because when we sailed HM in March 2023 (we had the 100 Photo Package for that sailing), the specialty restaurants were already excluded.

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1 hour ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

They must have changed that right after your January cruise because when we sailed HM in March 2023 (we had the 100 Photo Package for that sailing), the specialty restaurants were already excluded.

One of the examples I showed the photographer as proof from that same restaurant (150 Central Park) back in January... even has the date printed up top... at least we know now! 🙂


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1 hour ago, Floski said:

Question about Hooked (we didn't eat there on WoS last Dec) - can you get more than one entrée at a seating?

We did not ask at Hooked (was tempted!), but a couple of us did in 150 Central Park. The waiter explained that the Lobster Thermidor was not very filling. I couldn't decide, so he brought out that dish and the Veal Medallion dish I was eyeing! Not sure if having the UDP helped this time in any way, but I know they do the best they can go the extra mile.

One thing we noticed in all of the specialty dining restaurants (not Playmakers) this time around was that all of the waiters effectively extended our DBP to the other couple we sailed and dined with! My wife and I had the DBP, but the other couple did not. The only exception... in one of the restaurants they had to pay for their first glass of wine.

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On 11/11/2023 at 11:16 AM, JohnK6404 said:

Oh, another website quick question! Is there a way to get rid of the column to the right of the post?

"Top Posters in this Topic", "Popular Days", "Posted Images", etc?

That sidebar only appears in blogs longer than 2 pages! So your old blog doesn’t have it since apparently it was not as FLUUUSHHH with content and replies! 😆 I always try and get there but have yet to make it, myself. haha

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