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I paid $350 for 3 hours in a private room at Royal Caribbean's sports bar. It made it easy to watch March Madness games, but I wouldn't do it again

03 Apr 2024

Watching your favorite team play doesn't take a break when you're on a cruise ship, and for those that are passionate fans, this means catching the game and rooting for their team no matter what.

Playmaker's Owners Box on Wonder of the Seas

Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade is Royal Caribbean's sports bar venue, and it features lots of televisions that show a variety of sports programming. For casual game watching, it's a hot spot and can get very busy when there are major events happening.

On Wonder of the Seas, Playmakers has the Owner's Box, which is a private VIP alcove you can rent for a few hours and I wanted to see what it was like to get this during the onset of March Madness in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Playmakers is known for being a sports lovers paradise

Playmakers entrance

The first Playmakers opened on Symphony of the Seas when that ship launched, and it's become a favorite of cruisers for its a la carte menu, viewing opportunities, and causal atmosphere.

Now it's found on several ships across Royal Caribbean's fleet, including the brand new Icon of the Seas.

Read more: Icon of the Seas information, tips & tricks

The Playmakers Owner Box VIP Section costs $350

Owner's Box at Playmakers

The seating in Playmakers is on a first-come, first-reserved basis. There's no ability to make advanced reservations, which can be problematic if you really want to see a particular game and many other passengers do too.

The newer Playmakers have the Owners Box, which you can book during the cruise to assure you of space for your group.

It's really meant as a group activity, with enough space for a dozen or so people. 

Owner's Box

On our spring break sailing, I wanted to catch the opening of the basketball tournament to see the University of Connecticut play (Go Huskies!).

It costs $350 for 2 and a half hours, although the staff were adamant we could stay for as long as our game was playing.

You get two pitchers of beer, 12 wings, and 2 appetizers from the regular menu. The beer is limited to what's on tap.

The Owner's Box is located near the Boardwalk

Looking towards the Boardwalk

A velvet rope sections off the Owner's Box from the rest of Playmakers, and you'll find the most comfortable chairs  surrounded by televisions.

The staff welcomed us in and the restaurant's manager came by to ensure the games we wanted to see were on the screen. There are two large televisions, along with a few smaller sets that line the walls. You can easily watch 3-4 games at the same time, although Royal Caribbean's satellite feed is not quite the same as at home.

Luckily, they had most of the games available to watch, so it was just a matter of having the staff change the channel on each television to match what we wanted.

TV in owners box

The box is open air, which means noise from the Boardwalk can easily bleed through.  Moreover, while the restaurant is air conditioned, the open air nature of the restaurant means the outside heat and humidity certain seeps in.

When we sat down, there was a large family activity going on that was quite loud. Plus, I'd be concerned in the warmer months of the year how hot it gets in the venue.

There are sound bubbles

Speakers in the ceiling

Noise bleed from around the bar and in the Boardwalk is going to happen, so Royal Caribbean installed what I call "sound bubbles".

These speakers in the ceiling have a plastic dome around them to direct the sound directly downwards to whomever is sitting below it.

They do indeed work, and it allows you to easily hear the game you want to watch, even if it's noisy around you.

Playmaker's food is just what you want on game day


Burgers, wings, nachos, oh my! 

Whether you're in the Owner's Box or not, the comfort food at Playmakers is your typical sports bar selections that hits the spot for most people.

A lot of the menu is great for sharing, which is conducive to a group experience in the Owner's Box. It's easy to get nachos, and place it in the middle to share.

Besides the snacks and beer included with the rental, you can order anything else you'd like off of the regular menu. 

Buffalo crunch roll

I think the onion ring tower, nachos, and buffalo crunch rolls are all worth trying there.  Those are great for sharing, but order your own Campfire Cookie because you won't want to give any of that up.

We had fun, but I wouldn't rent the Owner's Box again

Watching the game

UCONN won its game, and we enjoyed all the food and drinks provided, but I'm not sure I need to experience this again.

At $350, it's not outrageously expensive for a large group, but I'm not sure I need to spend the money for a dedicated area again. 

If you're a die-hard fan and you're on a cruise for a critical game, then you might consider renting the Owner's Box for your group. It certainly is nice having reserved seats and space to spread out.

The bar's service was impeccable, and they did just about anything to ensure we got what we wanted.

I glanced around a few times and even though it was the NCAA tournament, there were still stools and booths available that we could have sat at for free to watch the game. Perhaps if the price was closer to $100, it might have been worth it.

The decision to rent the Owner's Box truly comes down to your passion as a fan, and how important it is to you to have a reserved section.  

Inside Royal Caribbean's luxury Royal Loft Suite, which start at almost $5k a night

02 Apr 2024

On one of the biggest cruise ships in the world, you'll find a giant suite that has more space and amenities than you ever thought possible on a cruise ship.

Royal Loft Suite

Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas has an entire neighborhood dedicated to just suites, and it's where you'll find some of the largest cabins on any cruise ship.

The Royal Loft Suite is one of the biggest suites on the ship, and also one of the most expensive.  It comes with the ship's best perks, known as Star Class. It comes with complimentary drink package, specialty dining, gratuities, and the services of the Royal Genie.  

Read more: My advice for someone using a Royal Genie on a Royal Caribbean cruise

It's a big room with the best benefits Royal Caribbean offers, and we got a chance to tour the cabin. Let's take a look inside.

The Royal Loft Suite has its own entrance on deck 18

Royal Loft Suite entrance

The Royal Loft Suite is located within the suite neighborhood, which is an area of the ship that only has suite cabins. There are suites on other decks too, but this area is reserved exclusively for suite guests.

Unlike other suites that share a common hallway, the Royal Loft Suite has its own glass door that stops anyone from even reaching the actual door to the cabin. It's like its own mini-hallway.

A chime outside the glass door rings inside the cabin to allow entry.

Guests are welcomed into the foyer

Royal Loft Suite foyer

As you walk into the Royal Loft Suite, it becomes apparent quickly this is a very different cruise ship cabin.

There is a baby grand piano on your right, a wet bar on your left, and floor-to-ceiling windows leading to the balcony.

The look of the room is also quite opulent, with hardwood floors and marble furnishings.

This suite features a large living room and dining area

Royal Loft Suite living room

Sprawling is the best word to describe this cabin, as the main floor has a dining room table that can seat up to 8 people.

Room service is included with this suite, and that includes being able to order food from specialty restaurants or the Main Dining Room. Guests staying in this cabin are able to have their meal served in the dining room.

Royal Loft Suite

To the right is the living room, and it has lots of space to relax.

There is a large couch, chair, and even a pair of hanging rocking chairs. I especially liked the couch had a chaise to it, making it far more comfortable for lounging.

There are two floors, with the master bedroom exclusively on the upper level

Royal Loft Suite master bedroom

As the name implies, there is an upper loft area that is just for the master bedroom and bath.

Stairs lead to the upper level, where you'll find a king size bed. The bed overlooks the rest of the suite and has views to the windows, providing ocean views.

If you need privacy, a curtain can be extended by the push of a button to completely envelop the bedroom.

Master bedroom in Royal Loft Suite

Behind the bed are more closets than you could possibly need, with floor-to-ceiling doors that offer drawers and hanging space.

The master bathroom has an amazing shower

Master bathroom

The amount of extra space continues into the master bath, with dual sinks and lots of counter space.

Within the shower is a rainforest shower with a pair of handheld shower heads, along with various nozzles.


There's also a soaking tub nearby.


The toilet is separated by a door, and has a remote controlled bidet.

The balcony is smaller than other Royal Loft Suites, but has a better location

Royal Loft Suite balcony

I was surprised by how much smaller the balcony space was on this balcony compared to the Royal Loft Suite balcony on Allure of the Seas, but Royal Caribbean made up for it with an ocean view that doesn't have the privacy issues other ships have.

Hot tub

The balcony has its own hot tub to enjoy, along with a table and chairs nearby.

There's also two more hanging rocking chairs that face the ocean, along with a wet bar and television.

The second bedroom has space for additional guests

Second bedroom

On the lower floor is the second bedroom, which can sleep an additional two guests. The bed does not separate.

This room has its own doorway, along with storage and even a chair.  Just like the master bedroom, the television retracts down from the ceiling.


While the bathroom is not nearly as large as the master bathroom, it's still quite nice and has multiple faucets inside the shower.

The Royal Loft Suite comes with a genie


Just as important as the room is the services of the Royal Genie, who isn't quite a butler, but is just as helpful.

The genie is responsible for three cabins on Wonder of the Seas, and assists with just about every need their guests might have. Dinner reservations, seats for a show, escorting on and off the ship, and even getting elevators for their guests are just some of the benefits they provide.

Think of a genie as an "easy button" for the cruise, where you don't need to pre-book things and simply inform the genie what you want to do, and they will make it happen.

The Royal Loft Suite is one of the biggest and over-the-top suites you can book on a cruise ship


Cruise ships have become well-known for offering incredible experiences that you can't believe are available at sea, and this suite certainly fits the bill.

Suite accommodations are not about providing a dollar-for-dollar value, but rather, an option for the well-to-do that can afford it. Walking through the cabin, you quickly get a sense this is unlike other cruise ship cabins (or even lesser suites).

The combination of sprawling space and services of the Royal Genie mean anyone willing to pay the price tag to enjoy a stay here.

6 mistakes I saw people make on my spring break cruise

25 Mar 2024

No matter the cruise, there's always going to be a large contingent of first-time cruisers that inevitably make mistakes.

Wonder of the Seas at CocoCay

I took my family on a 7-night cruise on Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas for spring break. It's an annual cruise tradition, as taking the kids out of school during the course of the calendar year gets more difficult as they get older.

Spring break has its pros and cons to sailing this time of year, but we find the comfortable outdoor temperatures, lack of tropical storms, and built-in time off as good reasons to sail this month.

Matt at Laser Tag

Over the span of the week, I ran into many cruisers and couldn't help but notice some of the clearly new ones struggling with things I think could have been avoided. I'm far from perfect, but I've gotten a lot better at avoiding common pitfalls from experience. Therefore, I think it's helpful to share with our readers ways they can improve too.

Here are the six mistakes I saw first-time cruisers committing on my cruise.  These are the ones I witnessed, although I'm sure other first-time cruise mistakes were being committed elsewhere. 

Not knowing it's spring break

Royal Promenade

This may seem obvious, but there are always a few people genuinely surprised to be on a spring break cruise. Maybe it's because where they are from, spring break is a different week of the year. Or they don't think of March as when spring break might happen.

There were about 1700 children on our spring break cruise. To be clear, a ship like Wonder of the Seas would have been full if it were spring break or not. The difference is you have more kids than other weeks, but all the cabins would have been sold out one way or another given how popular cruising is, and how cruise lines sell their ships to sail at full capacity every week as a matter of economics.

Spring break might seem like it's one or two weeks, but in reality, it encompasses a few months.  Most people consider spring break season to begin in mid-February when it's President's Day weekend in the United States and go all the way through Easter.

Wonder of the Seas docked

That means you'll find spring breakers cruising anytime in late February, March, or early April. Depending on when Easter falls on the calendar, the season can be longer or shorter. You should expect more kids on the ship any of these weeks.

One way to double check is to spot check school calendars, especially if you're on the fringe of spring break. Google your own hometown school calendar, as well as a few others. For what it's worth, Orange County schools in Florida had their spring break beginning on March 18, while Osceola County had theirs March 11.

The good news is you don't get the rowdy college spring breakers on a 7-night cruise, as much as you would on a 4-night cruise. However, there are definitely more families onboard and that just means lines for the water slides, laser tag, or hot tub might be longer.

If you truly want to avoid a spring break cruise, try a cruise in January, early February, or May.

Not checking in online

Inside the cruise terminal

As I barely stopped in my cruise check-in process, I couldn't help but shake my head at the folks who had to stop and have the terminal staff enter their paperwork for boarding.

Royal Caribbean allows you to start checking in for your cruise up to 45 days before the cruise begins, and you really should do all the pre-cruise check-in steps while you're at home (or work, I promise not to tell your boss).

In short, the time it takes to enter your travel information in the app at home is time saved in the terminal. I'm willing to bet it's faster for you to enter the information than the terminal staff can do it.

Whether it saves you five minutes or an hour, I personally would rather expedite the process to get on the ship and not start my vacation with an unnecessary line.

Read more: Royal Caribbean check-in process

Not specifying liquor brand when ordering a drink

Pouring drink at the bar

Whether you buy a Royal Caribbean drink package or not, when you tell the bartender which drink you'd like, always specify the brand of liquor.

All too often, I see someone come up to the bar and ask for "a pina colada" or "a bloody mary" and not ask for Kraken rum or Tito's vodka.

When you ask for a liquor, you're almost always going to get the cheapest brand of liquor they have (better known as "well liquor"). It won't be nearly as smooth, and usually results in that cringe face after the first few sips.

Don't worry, most types of liquor are included with a drink package.  Unless you're asking for something super top shelf, it won't affect the price.

Read more: Avoid these Royal Caribbean drink package mistakes

Choosing My Time Dining

Line for My Time Dining

This next one isn't so much of a mistake, as it is something to think about for next time.

When you choose which dining time for dinner on your cruise, you have to pick between Traditional or My Time Dining.  There are pros and cons to both, but I really felt bad for the folks in My Time Dining.

When I walked past the Main Dining Room on Deck 4 at 6:30pm, there were two giant lines that went almost back into the casino.

Line for My Time Dining

I went back a half hour later to check, and the line had subsided, but hadn't gone away.

My Time Dining is a good choice for those that want flexibility in when they eat, but understand you may have to wait for a table.

Too much fun in the sun

Cabana pool

To be fair, experienced cruisers succumb to the sunburn just as easily as a new cruiser. But it seems like new cruisers tend to end up with that "lobster glow" more often.

Even though it's only March, the sun is strong and a sunburn is something no one wants.

Not only should you remember to apply sunscreen before you start your day on shore, but you need to re-apply. A lot.

Matt at Hideaway Beach

Every two hours or so is a good idea, and you want to take a break to avoid getting burned.  Once you're burned, it can be really uncomfortable for the next few days.  

Similarly, it's easy to start having a great time relaxing in the ocean or pool, but be sure to take breaks and remember to not over do it. 

Eating before you start day drinking is always a solid bet, and pace yourself. It's easy to get swept up in the fun and keep the drinks flowing, but drink responsibly so you don't end up being "that guy" later in the day.

Read more: 22 unpleasant cruise ship problems you aren't prepared for

Keeping luggage tags on bags on final night

Both luggage tags on the suitcase

At first I thought there was just one person that did this, but then I saw lots of bags.

The luggage tags you attached to your bag on embarkation should not be on your bags still when it's time to leave the luggage out on the final night of the cruise.

I have no idea how often (if at all) this really gets anyone into trouble with their luggage being lost, but if removing the original luggage tags is definitely a good practice to get into so there is absolutely no confusion if a piece of luggage in the cruise terminal is for a guest disembarking or a new guest boarding the ship.

I ate brunch at 3 Royal Caribbean restaurants, and the one you've heard of the least was the best

21 Mar 2024

Brunch isn't something Royal Caribbean has offered a lot, but it's great you can find brunch more often now.

Brunch on Royal Caribbean

On Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, there are three restaurants that serve brunch throughout the cruise: the Main Dining Room, Solarium Bistro, and Mason Jar.

Brunch isn't offered every day, but it's available on select mornings of the cruise.

During my recent cruise on Wonder of the Seas, I stopped by all three to sample them all.

Only reservation you need is at Mason Jar

Mason Jar entrance

Both Solarium Bistro and Main Dining Room require no reservations for brunch, but you will need one at the Mason Jar.

Brunch is offered at Solarium Bistro on sea days (and on the day we docked in St. Thomas at 1pm). Brunch was only offered in the Main Dining Room on our late arrival day into St. Thomas, and the Mason Jar offers brunch on embarkation day and sea days (and St. Thomas day).

You can make a pre-cruise reservation for Mason Jar on the Royal Caribbean website. For the other two restaurants, simply walk up and ask for a table.

I was surprised by the menu choices

Brunch food

When I hear the word "brunch", I think of scrambled eggs and bacon served alongside spaghetti and a burger. In short, it's about a lot of choices you can intermix between the two meals.

The Mason Jar's brunch menu has items from both meals, including fried chicken sandwiches, avocado toast, biscuits, and more.

Cinnamon roll

Being a Southern American styled restaurant, there are a lot of regional favorites here: blueberry johnnycakes, spinach 'n pimento cheese omelet, and fried chicken 'n waffles. There's also scrambled eggs, burger, and a chicken sandwich if you want something a bit more familiar.

At the Main Dining Room, their brunch menu leaned more heavily into the breakfast choices. It felt like their brunch menu was the standard breakfast menu, with a few of their lunch menu items added in.

Solarium Bistro

The Solarium Bistro's menu was the largest of the menus, with multiple stations to choose from.  Served buffet style, there is no printed menu, but I found much more choices than I expected.

Solarium Bistro's brunch buffet bonanza


The Solarium Bistro is a complimentary restaurant at the front of the ship that I think many passengers overlook. However, on the day I ate there, it was definitely not uncrowded.

You will find lots of choices spread across multiple buffet stations. There are waffles, burgers, omelets, spaghetti, bacon, and more.

Solarium Bistro

I was impressed by how much choice there was, which is why it felt the most crowded of the buffet spots I visited on Wonder.

The food quality was that of the Windjammer buffet, so it wouldn't be anything significantly different. But I think the sheer variety and the fact it's included in your cruise fare stood out a lot.

Southern comfort food at Mason Jar

Brunch at Mason Jar

The Mason Jar is Royal Caribbean's first specialty restaurant to lean into the brunch trend, and it wont leave you disappointed either.

You'll find a mix of familiar and maybe not-so-familiar choices (if you don't live near an SEC college). I'm all for new choices, and I appreciate it's not just more of the same.

Fried Chicken at Mason Jar

The Sweet-Tooth Cinnamon Roll and the red velvet pancakes caught our eye almost immediately. The cinnamon roll was massive, and probably best suited as something to share with everyone at your table.

In fact, all the dishes were quite large and this is a good restaurant to order one more entree than people in your party and just share everything. 

A basic brunch in the Main Dining Room

Brunch in MDR

The brunch menu in the Main Dining Room is perhaps the least inspired of the three, in the sense it's the standard breakfast menu they have every day, with a few staples of the lunch menu.

There's nothing wrong with any of the choices here, but don't expect to be wowed by anything new or different.

What I love about eating in the Main Dining Room for breakfast or brunch is the relaxed pace, dignified atmosphere, and ocean views (if you're near a window).


Whereas Solarium Bistro is busy with people, the Main Dining Room is more spread out and has you seated with waiter service.

The French toast and omelet your way are probably the top choices, but you could get a steak or burger here too.

Solarium Bistro is worth a try on your next cruise

Solarium Bistro

Among the three restaurants, I enjoyed Solarium Bistro the most.

Not only is it complimentary, but I thought its variety of menu choices really stood out. It felt like I could mix and match the most of the three, and I thought there were some interesting choices too.

Mason Jar

The Mason Jar is a strong contender too, as you'll find classic and reimaged southern-inspired breakfast dishes. I think being able to go to any specialty restaurant and get something you can't find elsewhere on the ship is a big selling point of spending extra.

However, there is a lot of bleed over between the Mason Jar's brunch and dinner menus. Plus, I think the bar scene is better than the restaurant experience, but that's a different debate.

Bagel and lox

Compared to Solarium Bistro and Mason Jar, the Main Dining Room's brunch offering was uninspiring. It wasn't bad food by any means, just nothing you're going to walk away from and think that meal really stood out.

Overall, I would recommend the Solarium Bistro for brunch as an easy choice that the entire family will find something they can enjoy. If you have a dining package, make a point to try Mason Jar on another morning.

Icon of the Seas vs Wonder of the Seas

07 Mar 2024

The two newest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet are Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas. Both ships make an excellent vacation choice, but how do they compare to one another?

Side by side image of Wonder of the Seas vs Icon of the Seas

The most obvious difference between these two ships is that they belong to two different ship classes. All Royal Caribbean cruise ships belong to one of seven classes of ships, each of which has a varied layout and diverse onboard offerings.

Icon of the Seas is the first ship in the Icon Class, whereas Wonder of the Seas is the sixth Oasis Class ship. While the two ships share many similarities, including water slides, an ice-skating rink, and modern accommodations, there are quite a few ways in which the vessels differ from one another.

Let’s take a look at Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas to see how these ships compare.

Ship Size

Icon of the Seas is currently the largest cruise ship in the world. She took the record away from Wonder of the Seas, who had held the title for around two years. Icon of the Seas is not drastically larger than Oasis Class ships, but the extra space onboard provides even more room for activities and amenities.

Here’s how these two vessels size up:

Icon Wonder size graph

Dining & Bars


Food is an integral part to any cruise vacation, and rest assured, you won’t go hungry on either vessel. Both Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas have over a dozen dining venues—both complimentary and specialty.

While the two ships share several restaurants, including the Main Dining Room and Sorrento’s Pizza, they each offer different options, too.

Here are the restaurants found on Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas:

graph showing complimentary restaurants on Icon of the Seas
graph showing specialty restaurants on icon of the Seas

Many of the dining venues found on both ships are tried and true favorites, such as Chops Grille and Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen. Others, however, offer unique dining experiences, like the whimsical-themed Wonderland on Wonder of the Seas or food hall concept at Icon's AquaDome Market.


Icon of the Seas saw the addition of over a dozen new dining venues, including Celebration Table, a private dining experience available to book for special occasions with friends and family.

Related: Icon of the Seas restaurant and dining guide

Needless to say, whether or not you plan to dine at only complimentary restaurants or splurge on specialty dining, you’ll find more than enough food to try on either ship.

Additionally, Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas have no shortage of bars and lounges. From sipping a cocktail on the pool deck to enjoying a glass of wine before a show, it’s convenient to find a drink anywhere onboard.

1400 Lobby Bar

Here are the bar and lounge venues found on Icon and Wonder of the Seas:

bars on icon and wonder

Pool Deck

Pool deck on Wonder of the Seas

The upper decks of both Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas are filled with pool spaces and onboard thrills, along with a selection of dining and bar venues. You can’t go wrong with spending a day on the pool deck on either ship, but there are a few differences between the two to be aware of.

First, Icon of the Seas’ pool deck is three decks high, and it features four pools, including the largest pool at sea, the Royal Bay pool, along with Swim & Tonic, the first swim-up bar at sea. In addition, there are two infinity pools—Cloud 17 and The Cove pool—which provide unmatched views of the ocean.

Wonder of the Seas has three main pools along with Splashaway Bay, an aqua park for kids, but you will not find infinity pools or a swim-up bar on the ship.

Related: 6 things to know before you book Wonder of the Seas

One of the major differences between Icon and Wonder is the adults-only pool area. On Wonder of the Seas is a traditional adults-only Solarium, which is fully enclosed, climate-controlled, and located in the front of the ship.

Icon of the Seas does not have a Solarium. Instead, you’ll find The Hideaway, an adults-only pool neighborhood inspired by Las Vegas pool parties.

The Hideaway at sunset

While the area is fully outdoors and lacks shade, it is, undoubtedly, a trendy spot to hangout.

As far as activities, both ships have water slides, a sports court, and mini golf course on the upper decks. Wonder of the Seas, however, only has three water slides, whereas Icon of the Seas has six slides at the Category 6 Waterpark, which is complimentary to all guests.

Icon of the Seas also features Crown’s Edge, an obstacle course and zip line attraction, whereas Wonder of the Seas has the Ultimate Abyss, a dry-slide reaching speeds of nine miles per hour.

Crowns Edge Icon of the Seas

Regardless of which ship you choose, either will provide ample opportunities to enjoy some time in the sun.

Central Park

Central Park on Icon of the Seas

One of the most popular neighborhoods on Wonder of the Seas and Icon of the Seas is Central Park, an open-air park in the middle of the vessels. With lush greenery, shops, restaurants, and bars, it’s no surprise this area is a hit with guests onboard.

However, there are a few key differences between Central Park on the two ships.

Both ships have several specialty restaurants within the park, with Wonder of the Seas offering steaks at Chops Grille, upscale cuisine at 150 Central Park, and Italian delights at Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar.

Icon of the Seas also has Chops Grille in Central Park, but Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen is found in the Royal Promenade instead. In its place is Izumi in the Park, the first-ever Izumi Sushi and Hibachi location in Central Park.

Chef Travis at Izumi

Not only does Izumi in the Park feature indoor seating for both sushi and teppanyaki, but the restaurant also offers a walk-up window where guests can purchase grab-and-go sushi, gyoza, and other Japanese favorites.

Related: Izumi in the Park review on Icon of the Seas

And while guests won’t find the fan-favorite 150 Central Park on Icon of the Seas, they can enjoy an 8-course meal at the nearby Empire Supper Club instead, which includes live jazz music.

In terms of bars, guests will love the new Lou’s Jazz n’ Blues venue on Icon of the Seas, which offers live soul and jazz tunes each evening in a classy setting. Wonder of the Seas does not have a jazz bar; instead, guests will find Giovanni’s Wine Bar in its place. While this bar does not feature live music, musicians may occasionally perform in the park during the evening.


Trellis Bar, another bar within the park, also differs between the two ships. The bar has far more seating on Icon of the Seas compared to Wonder of the Seas, and it also has its own food menu, although these dishes come with an extra cost.

Despite these differences, the overall ambiance of Central Park on either ship remains similar. The park provides a quiet escape away from the hustle and bustle elsewhere onboard, whether you're enjoying a relaxed lunch at Park Cafe or simply taking a stroll through the trees.

Surfside vs The Boardwalk


In addition to Central Park, you’ll find another open-air neighborhood at the aft of both Icon and Wonder of the Seas. This area is referred to as the Surfside neighborhood on Icon of the Seas and The Boardwalk on Wonder of the Seas.

While these neighborhoods may look similar at first glance, they could not be more different from one another. Both neighborhoods are family-focused, but Icon of the Seas takes this focus up a notch.

On Wonder of the Seas, The Boardwalk caters to all ages. Sure, kids will love the neighborhood’s carousel, arcade, rock climbing wall, Johnny Rockets location, and candy store, but adults will appreciate Playmakers Sports Bar and the AquaTheater entertainment venue.

Wonder of the Seas boardwalk

On Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean wanted to make Surfside the ultimate destination for families, rather than just a place for families to stop by throughout the day.

Related: Icon of the Seas Surfside neighborhood: What to expect

New kid-friendly complimentary dining venues were added—Surfside Eatery and Surfside Bites—along with the new specialty restaurant Pier 7, where kids under 12 eat for free. Additionally, the neighborhood features Splashaway Bay and an aft-facing infinity pool, along with The Lemon Post, a new bar with mommy-and-me cocktails and mocktails.

Not only that, but Surfside is located just above Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean kids programming center, which helps keep most family-focused areas in one place.

Royal Promenade

Wonder of the Seas Royal Promenade

The Royal Promenade is the hub of any Royal Caribbean ship. It has dozens of areas to explore, from restaurants to retail stores, lounges, and cafes. It’s an area most guests frequent every day of the cruise. While Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas both have a Royal Promenade, there are a few differences between the two.

Icon’s Royal Promenade is more expansive than Wonder’s, as it fully wraps around two decks. On Wonder of the Seas, guests can only walk the entire length of the promenade on one deck. This leads to more congestion as passengers go from Point A to Point B onboard.

Another difference is The Pearl. It’s hard to miss the massive, shining structure—known as The Pearl—upon boarding Icon of the Seas. The Pearl is at the forefront of the ship’s Royal Promenade, functioning not only as a structural component of the ship, but also to provide that "WOW!" factor.


Near The Pearl is Pearl Café, Icon’s coffee shop, which is a major upgrade from Cafe Promenade found on Wonder of the Seas. Pearl Café features a greater variety of snack options compared to the latter, and it also offers specialty coffee beverages and beautiful ocean views from the cafe’s 36-foot high windows.

Related: 8 things I love about Icon of the Seas (and 3 I didn't)

Both Royal Promenades feature popular bars including an English-style pub, Boleros Latin bar, and karaoke venue. Icon of the Seas has even more bars, though, including the new Dueling Pianos Bar, where guests can watch live pianists, and the 1400 Lobby Bar.

Ocean views are more accessible in Icon of the Seas’ Royal Promenade as well. The neighborhood has a large amount of windows, whereas there are no ocean views from the area on Wonder.

Pearl Cafe

Either ship’s Royal Promenade is sure to be a dynamic place to spend your evenings while cruising, whether you’re listening to live acoustic music at the pub, shopping for a new souvenir, or people-watching from one of the Promenade’s many seating areas.


Aqua 2

Even though all Royal Caribbean ships offer impressive entertainment options, production shows on the fleet’s newest ships go above and beyond the rest. Both Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas offer spectacular entertainment choices—here are the differences to note.

Perhaps the most major entertainment difference between the two ships is the AquaTheater. Oasis Class ships, including Wonder of the Seas, are known for their outdoor AquaTheater, where guests can witness unique performances combining high diving, synchronized swimming, and acrobats paired with high-energy music.

On Icon of the Seas, the AquaTheater was moved indoors to the AquaDome, a multi-deck high dome placed atop the vessel. The AquaDome is also home to The Overlook, an indoor lounge with breathtaking ocean views, along with several dining venues and bars. At the forefront of the neighborhood, though, is the performance venue.

Aquadome Overlook

Both ships also have an ice-skating rink, with Absolute Zero found on Icon of the Seas and Studio B on Wonder of the Seas. Guests can enjoy performances from professional figure skaters on either ship, although the circular rink on Icon of the Seas is larger than the rectangular rink on Wonder of the Seas.

Another major difference is in the Royal Theater, as Icon of the Seas features a 90-minute Broadway production, The Wizard of Oz, while Wonder of the Seas does not. In lieu of a Broadway show, passengers on Wonder of the Seas can enjoy The Effectors II, a Royal Caribbean original production, along with Voices, an a capella group.

Aside from signature production shows, each ship boasts a wide array of other entertainment options, including comedy shows, game shows, and live bands.

These are the signature production shows on Wonder and Icon of the Seas:

entertainment list on Icon Wonder of the Seas


Balcony room

There are 28 categories of cabins to book on Icon of the Seas, ranging from the most basic interior cabin to lavish suites.

All things considered, the standard cabins on Icon of the Seas are similar to those on Wonder of the Seas. Every cabin includes a king-sized bed, private bathroom, chair or couch, desk/vanity, television, and storage space in closets and drawers.

Nonetheless, there are a few differences to note between the two ships.

First, Icon of the Seas has more cabins that can accommodate more than two guests. 82% of cabins on Icon of the Seas can accommodate three or more guests, which is ideal for such a family-focused ship.

Family surfside suite

This is why, while Wonder of the Seas technically has more cabins onboard, Icon of the Seas can accommodate more passengers at full capacity.

Secondly, there are more sub-categories of rooms within each category. Not only can you book an interior cabin on Icon, for instance, but you can book a Spacious Interior cabin, too, which offers a slightly different layout with additional storage space.

Likewise, infinite balcony cabins launched on the ship, which differ from a traditional balcony in that the balcony is part of your overall living space instead of a separate outdoor area. The goal of these balconies is to provide additional living space to guests while still having access to a private outdoor veranda.

Spacious Infinite Central Park Balcony Cabin on Icon of the Seas

For a deeper look into cabins onboard, check out the following cabin tours:

As another plus, Royal Caribbean introduced destination elevators with Icon of the Seas. These “smart” elevators get passengers to their destination more quickly. To use the elevators, guests press a button indicating the deck of their destination while they are still in the elevator lobby.

Passengers are then assigned an elevator with other passengers traveling to that deck, which is much more efficient than having several elevators stop at every floor.

Suite Experience


Both Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas are wonderful ship options for those booking a suite on Royal Caribbean. Not only does each vessel boast an array of suite categories, but both ships have a dedicated Suite Neighborhood exclusive to suite guests.

Everything from basic Junior Suites to multi-story, luxurious cabins are found on either ship. In total, there are 174 suites on Wonder of the Seas and 179 suites on Icon of the Seas. Icon of the Seas features more suite categories than Wonder, which include suites such as the Sunset Junior Suite and Icon Loft Suite.

Related: Guide to Icon of the Seas cabins and suites

suite neighborhood Wonder of the Seas

The suite neighborhood on either ship has a pool, Coastal Kitchen restaurant, and Suite Lounge. Guests should note that Wonder of the Seas has a much larger Suite Lounge, though, and that Icon of the Seas has The Grove, a Mediterranean grab-and-go dining venue that is not found on Wonder.

Suite guests on both ships will enjoy the amenities of Royal Caribbean’s Royal Suite Class, which is broken into three tiers: Sea, Sky, and Star Class. Each tier comes with its own host of benefits, with the most exclusive Star Class offering benefits such as complimentary specialty dining and the services of a Royal Genie.

Bottom Line

Icon of the Seas docked in St. Thomas

Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas are, without a doubt, the cream of the crop in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. Either vessel provides the best of the best that Royal Caribbean has to offer, including the newest restaurants, most modern staterooms, and state-of-the-art entertainment.

There is no wrong choice when deciding between the two ships for your cruise vacation; it all comes down to preference. Comparing the two ships’ entertainment offerings, dining venues, cabin categories, and, of course, price, will help you decide which to pick for your vacation.

It also helps to watch a ship tour of each vessel, which are found on our YouTube channel:

Icon of the Seas vs. Wonder of the Seas

Wonder vs Enchantment: ranking the best Royal Caribbean ship and the worst

03 Feb 2024

There's so many different Royal Caribbean cruise ships, each with their pros and cons and rankings among cruise fans.

Wonder of the Seas vs Enchantment

Online reviews can be misleading, too—you’ll find someone people swear off sailing a ship that others can’t stop praising.

Cruise fans rate Wonder of the Seas as one of the best Royal Caribbean ships, primarily due to her size and up-to-date amenities.

In contrast, Enchantment of the Seas was one of the ships our readers said they would never go back on again due to her old age and faded amenities. 

In my quest to see all that the cruise line has to offer, I’ve now experienced a cruise on both the “best” and “worst” ships Royal Caribbean offers.

But does Royal Caribbean really have such a great difference between these two ships? What distinguishes them?

Read moreRoyal Caribbean ship classes ultimate guide (2024)


Wonder of the Seas

One of the key differences between Wonder and Enchantment is their size.

Wonder is one of the newest and largest cruise ships in the world. A large Oasis Class ship, she was just launched in 2022. The ship features state-of-the-art facilities, 18 total decks, and an expansive length.

The smaller, Vision-Class Enchantment of the Seas was launched 26 years prior, in 1996.

She was the last Royal Caribbean cruise ship to be lengthened in 2005 when they cut the ship in half and inserted a new section in the middle. 

This change added 151 new cabins, but the ship still only has 1142 staterooms and a capacity for 2252 passengers and 852 crew members.

Enchantment has a more scaled-back and intimate setting, contrasting the grandeur and scale of Wonder of the Seas.

Of course, even the smallest Royal Caribbean ship still feels big on a human scale. No matter which ship you sail on, it will be like a huge building on the sea. 

And Royal Caribbean has a reputation to keep up: even their smallest ships are larger than the ships offered by other mainstream cruise lines.

Even though Enchantment of the Seas is less than half the size of Wonder, both are large cruise ships that will take time to explore. 


Although the two ships are very different sizes, I couldn’t tell any difference once inside the cabins.

Different ships have different numbers of cabins available, but each cabin category is consistent regardless of the ship. 

Surprisingly enough, my cabin on Enchantment of the Seas reminded me most of the cabin I stayed in on Wonder

Both were inside cabins I purchased through the guarantee process. 

Both cabins had no windows, a private but small shower, a TV, a vanity, a safe, a large closet with hangers, and a wide bed that could be split apart into two twin beds.

Despite the similar layout, I did notice a few significant differences.

First, my Enchantment cabin had no mini-fridge, the small cooler that usually sits in the cabinet beside the desk.

Secondly, I did notice the age showing inside Enchantment’s cabin. The flights would flicker or break, and one of the forward elevators even broke down for 24 hours. 

I could tell that the ship had been renovated and had satisfactory amenities, but it was impossible not to notice a little wear and tear.

Third, on my Wonder of the Seas cruise, the TV inside the room was a newer Smart TV, which allowed me to cast to it directly from my iPhone. On Enchantment, the TV was an older version featuring only a few free channels.

Of course, the price was the major difference. I booked both cruises about a month beforehand, both for 7 nights. On Wonder of the Seas, I brought a guest, but on my Enchantment cruise, I had to pay the single supplement fee.

The final price for my 7-night Wonder of the Seas cruise was $2674.76, about $382 per night for two people.

On the other hand, my Enchantment of the Seas cruise cost $1471, or $210 per night. 

Even with the solo traveler fee, this cheaper price helps take the sting out of the “worst ship” title. 

Read moreWhich Royal Caribbean cruise ship will you never sail on again? Here's what our readers said!


The cuisine is a crucial aspect of every cruise experience, so, naturally, this category would have a strong bearing on how you choose your next cruise ship.

It’s important to note that I haven’t noticed the quality of food or service change between Royal Caribbean ships, no matter their popularity. 

The menus stay consistent throughout all ships and classes, especially in the Main Dining Room.


The only difference is that Wonder of the Seas boasts far more venues, with 10 complimentary restaurants and 13 specialty venues.

Enchantment of the Seas, in contrast, only has 4 complimentary restaurants and 3 specialty venues onboard.

Read moreOne food item you need to order from each restaurant onboard Enchantment of the Seas

But if you are already unwilling to spend extra money on food, the wide range of specialty restaurants on Wonder may not appeal to you.

Enchantment of the Seas has plenty of delicious food, served with charm—and often a shorter wait! 


As a cruise ship, it makes sense that fans would rate Wonder of the Seas as one of the best.

The ship was designed to be a destination in itself, with an awe-inspiring amount of options available. 

She features iconic recreation zones like the AquaTheater, the Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, and Central Park. Shops, restaurants, and live music are everywhere—to say nothing of the activities and shows.

You can compare the Cruise Compasses side-by-side on our website. Although ships both feature the same significant events, such as get-togethers and musical performances, it’s clear that Wonder of the Seas goes above and beyond. 

The ship features incredible amenities like laser tag, mini golf, and ice skating. It’s impossible to experience it all in one cruise!

But if you’re on a more port-intensive cruise, like an Alaska or Mediterranean itinerary, Enchantment of the Seas ship is more than satisfactory. I discovered that it was the perfect place to come back to and relax at night.

Reviews online complain that Enchantment is a boring ship, but I appreciated the quiet after a long port day. 

While Wonder of the Seas has an impressive array of amenities and entertainment, Enchantment features a cozy, intimate environment. 


I loved that Enchantment of the Seas was a much quieter environment. Instead of having large, open entertainment areas, like the Boardwalk and the Royal Promenade, Enchantment features one small, round Centrum. Since each floor looks out onto the Centrum, you can’t see how many people are milling around, and the noise is minimized.

It was a much more relaxing cruise experience.

However, the environment on Wonder of the Seas also felt much friendlier. I made actual friends on that cruise, unlike my Enchantment of the Seas cruise, where people hardly spoke in the elevators.

Both of my cruises were 7 days long, with ample time to connect with others onboard. But that wasn’t my experience on the smaller ship.

Maybe it was because Wonder of the Seas feels like such an exciting ship, with many more activities. 

Or maybe it was because my Enchantment cruise was much more port-heavy, leaving cruisers tired and focused on tourism.

For whatever reason, I have never again felt the same social charm that I first experienced on Wonder of the Seas.

Bottom Line 

In the end, we can’t decide for you if Wonder truly is Royal Caribbean’s best ship, or if Enchantment of the Seas is the line’s worst.

These two polarities can show the significant differences between popular and less popular cruise ships.

However, the two ships aren’t that different on a larger scale. Ultimately, the choice—the most well-liked ship versus the least popular ship—is up to your preferences. If you value grandeur, noise, and endless access to venues and entertainment, Wonder of the Seas may be the best choice.

But if you’re looking for a cheaper option with a quiet, intimate environment, you might be able to handle an older ship like Enchantment just fine.

Did Royal Caribbean's CEO hint Wonder of the Seas could be deployed to Galveston?

26 Jan 2024

If you read between the lines, it sounds like Royal Caribbean might have plans for an even bigger cruise ship to move to Galveston.


Royal Caribbean first deployed Allure of the Seas to Galveston in November 2022. Shortly thereafter, the second Oasis Class ship was replaced by Harmony of the Seas, and recently, Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International's President and CEO, hinted that the former largest cruise ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas, might be next. 

During a Q&A session with travel agents on Icon of the Seas, Bayley was asked if Royal would ever consider deploying an Icon Class ship to Galveston, as they've done "very well" with Allure and Harmony and want to show the company what they could do with an Icon Class vessel. 

To be clear, he did not announce or confirm anything.  However, he did allude to a possible future ship deployment. 

"It wasn't an accident that we built that 100 and whatever it was million dollar terminal in Galveston, Texas, which, by the way, is our highest-rated terminal experience in the world," he said. 

Top of the terminal

"And if you just, you know, if you just think forward a few more years, I WONDER what we're going to do next. I'm not giving away our strategy here because it's pretty simple, but if you can just use your imagination, you know, big things are coming." 

It was clear that when he said "Wonder," he was emphasizing the word to the audience, to which they responded in cheer!

As of now, Harmony of the Seas is available to book from Galveston through March 2026. No other deployments have been announced beyond that date.

Wonder of the Seas is unlike any of the previous five Oasis Class ships

Wonder of the Seas in Labadee

While you'll still find Oasis Class favorites onboard, such as Central Park, the Boardwalk, a Flowrider, AquaTheater, and Riding Tide Bar, the ship is slightly different than her younger sisters. 

Truthfully, she — and Utopia of the Seas — can be thought of as "Oasis Plus" ships. While Wonder shares many of the same bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues as Oasis, Allure, Harmony, and Symphony of the Seas, significant enhancements were made to her design and layout.

First, the cruise line added a brand-new neighborhood, the Suite Neighborhood, which is only accessible to those staying in suites. It's where they will find the Coastal Kitchen restaurant and suite concierge, as well as the Suite Sun Deck that's complete with a private bar, plunge pool with in-pool lounges, and a variety of comfy seating options. 

Suite Sun Deck on Wonder of the Seas

Additionally, whereas on other Oasis Class ships, many Loft Suites face the Sports Court, this isn't the case on Wonder, as this area is occupied by the Suite Sun Deck. Instead, the majority of suites have an ocean view. 

Royal Caribbean also significantly increased the size of the Windjammer Marketplace onboard. It can be found on Deck 15 and is situated around the entire Boardwalk Neighborhood. 

Adults will also appreciate how the Solarium is completely closed and climate-controlled. However, it is important to note that, while most Oasis Class ships have two cantilevered hot tubs near the Solarium, there's only one on Wonder, as the space for the second was used for The Vue Bar. 

Wonder of the Seas pool deck

When it comes to the pool deck, it's much more colorful than those found onboard Allure, Harmony, and Symphony of the Seas. Wonder has a Caribbean-style pool deck, which means that you will find a Lime and Coconut Bar, private casitas, and even a brand-new large television that hangs over the Central Park Neighborhood

At the aft of the ship, guests will notice that there's only one FlowRider. The second one was replaced with the Wonder Playscape area, which is essentially an underwater-themed climbing playground for children. Moreover, the mini-golf course was moved and rethemed. 

Read more: Wonder of the Seas vs other Oasis Class ships

Galveston's brand-new terminal opened in late 2022

New Galveston terminal

Terminal 3 cost Royal Caribbean $125 million and is the cruise line's dedication to the Galveston cruise market. 

In total, the building measures 161,300 and has numerous high-tech features, including mobile check-in and facial recognition to help expedite guest arrival. 

Moreover, it's a LEED-certified terminal (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), meaning that it is environmentally responsible and uses resources efficiently.

Read more: I cruised Royal Caribbean from Galveston for the first time. Here's what a cruise from Texas is like

While you can cruise from the popular port cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Tampa, Galveston helps make cruising to those living in Texas, as well as nearby states, more accessible

Galveston terminal drop off

Before this terminal opened, you couldn't find some of the world's largest ships in Texas. Now, however, cruising on Oasis (and, potentially, even Icon) Class ships is easier than ever, especially if you aren't located near Florida. 

There are some limitations. First, newer ships usually are not sent here. Allure, for instance, while a jam-packed Oasis Class ship, isn't brand-new and never underwent any sort of Royal Amplification. 

Harmony of the Seas, which replaced Allure in 2023, is the newest ship to sail from Galveston for Royal Caribbean to date. 

Wonder of the Seas

Second, since Galveston is located on the Gulf of Mexico, you won't find any Eastern Caribbean itineraries. Western Caribbean cruises tend to be more port-intensive, too. 

While Bayley didn't give any specifics regarding when we could see Wonder move to Texas, it's exciting to think one of the largest Oasis Class vessels could call Texas home! 

Wonder of the Seas Cabins to Avoid

26 Dec 2023

Which staterooms should you avoid booking on Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas?

Wonder of the Seas aerial aft

Wonder of the Seas is one of the biggest cruise ships in the world that is 1,188 feet long and is basically a floating city.

Read more: Wonder of the Seas review

Among the 2,867 staterooms you can stay in on Wonder of the Seas, there are at least a few types you might want to think twice about booking.

Wonder of the Seas balcony room

While most staterooms are totally fine, there are some rooms that are perhaps located in an area that could be prone to noise, could make you seasick, or are just disappointing.

Read more: What is the best location on a cruise ship?

In an effort to ensure you pick the right stateroom, we scoured the Wonder of the Seas deck plans to find the cabins you definitely don't want to book.

1. Connecting rooms (if you don't need it)

Balcony room on Wonder of the Seas

Connecting rooms a boon for families looking to get more than one cabin with a common door in the middle, but it's a bad idea if you aren't using that door.

You'll find connecting inside, oceanview, and balcony rooms on Wonder of the Seas, but don't book these rooms unless you need the other room.

The problem with these rooms is the connecting door is not as well insulated from noise as a wall would be, and there's many complaints about noise bleed from people that book a connecting room when they don't know the person on the other side.

To be clear, if you need two rooms, connecting cabins are great and you should book it. After all, if the people in the other room are noisy, you can open the door and tell them to quiet down!  But that doesn't work when it's a stranger.

2. Rooms on deck 3 under public venues

Studio B on Wonder of the Seas

If you go to sleep early, you'll avoid to avoid a cabin under or above a public venue.

The oceanview and inside rooms on deck 3 are all underneath either Studio B ice skating rink or Casino Royale.

The problem with having a room in this location is you could have noise bleed to contend with, especially if you're someone that likes to go to sleep early.

There are pros and cons to having a room on the lowest deck of a cruise ship, but ideally you'll book a cabin that has other cabins above and below it.

3. Cabins towards the bow if you are prone to seasickness

You will want to avoid cabins towards the front of the ship because you are likely feel the motion of the waves more distinctly.

The front of the ship tends to experience more motion than the center of the ship, and if you're someone who is worried about getting seasick, you'll want to avoid these cabins.

When Calista went on Wonder of the Seas, she had an inside cabin at the very front of the ship and she felt more seasick there than elsewhere on the ship.

Read more: 13 things I wish I'd done differently on my first cruise

It's important to remember everyone's tolerance for motion is different, and booking a cabin at the front will not guarantee anyone gets seasick (nor will booking a midship cabin guarantee you wont get seasick).

While I don't consider cabin location often in terms of if I'll get seasick or not, it's worth pointing out cabins closer to the bow are to be avoided if you think that might apply to you.

4. Rooms below the pool

Pool on Wonder of the Seas

You would be surprised how much noise a cabin below the pool can have, especially in the early morning.

The pool deck on Wonder of the Seas is a hub of activity, with plenty of people up there in the morning, day, and evening. You might expect that to be the case most times of the day, but there's still things happening there in the early morning.

Crew members use the early morning and late evening hours to re-arrange deck chairs. At night, they stack them to ensure they don't go flying around overnight and then set them back up in the early morning.  The issue with this is crew members drag the loungers across the deck to get them to where they need to go, and that can result in screeching sounds emanating from the ceiling of your cabin.

To be safe, avoid these cabins on Deck 14:

  • 14162 to 14240
  • 14562 to 14640

One more note about cabins on deck 14 are the balcony cabins that have a bit of an overhang, which is only a problem if you want your balcony to be sunny.

Deck 14 balconies

The deck 14 balconies in this area will likely have more overhead cover.

That means less sun and less rain on the balcony in most cases.  Some people like that, others prefer the more open feeling of lower deck balconies.

5. Rooms above the Royal Theater

Royal Theater

If you're someone that likes to go to bed early, don't book a cabin directly above the theater.

Newer Royal Caribbean cruise ships do a pretty good job with soundproofing, but if given the choice, avoid cabins on deck six that are directly above the Royal Theater.

This means avoiding these cabins on deck 6:

  • 6130 to 6160
  • 6135 to 6153
  • 6530 to 6560
  • 6535 to 6553

6. Obstructed view cabins

Obstructed view

Forgetting room location for a moment, if there's one type of cabin I hear the most complaints about it's obstructed view rooms.

There are some cabins on Wonder of the Seas where the view from the window or balcony is partially or even completely obstructed by a lifeboat, machinery, or some other structural element.

I think the reason why I read so many complaints is people are unaware they're booking it, or naive to how much the obstruction will bother them.

Obstructed view Central Park balcony

Here are the cabins on Wonder of the Seas which have obstructed view:

  • 7100 to 7108
  • 7500 to 7510
  • 7114 to 7126
  • 7516 to 7528
  • 8100 to 8108
  • 8500 to 8510
  • 8116 to 8124
  • 8516 to 8524
  • 8329
  • 8729
  • 9100 to 9108
  • 9500 to 9510
  • 9118 to 9124
  • 9518 to 9524
  • 9329
  • 9729
  • 10100 to 10108
  • 10500 to 10510
  • 10124 to 10128
  • 10522 to 10528
  • 10329
  • 10729
  • 11100 to 11106
  • 11500 to 11506
  • 11124 to 11130
  • 11524 to 11528
  • 11327 & 11329
  • 11727 & 11729
  • 12327 & 12329
  • 12727 & 12729
  • 14217
  • 14293 to 14299
  • 14693 to 14699
  • 14323 & 14325
  • 14719 to 14725
  • 1780

It is worth noting that there is one distinct benefit to booking an obstructed view cabin, and that is it's usually cheaper than an unobstructed view room. However, I find the disappointment many readers have with an obstruction is not worth the aggravation in order to save some money.

7. Central Park balconies near the movie screen

Movie screen on Wonder of the Seas

One change Royal Caribbean made with Wonder of the Seas was to add a movie screen to the pool deck, but that screen is viewable from the Central Park balcony cabins below and some people noted it was loud on the balcony as a result.

The issue is people on their balcony can hear the sound from the movie screen above them, and that disturbs some people that would prefer a quiet balcony.

My $2,400 Wonder of the Seas balcony room had more storage and modern touches than I expected

18 Dec 2023

A balcony stateroom is one of the most popular types of cabins on any cruise ship, and it's a great choice on Wonder of the Seas.

Wonder of the Seas balcony room

As one of the largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas has quickly become one of the top choices for a cruise vacation. When the ship debuted in 2022, I spent two weeks in a balcony cabin to experience this type of room for myself.

While I've stayed in plenty of balcony rooms on other Royal Caribbean ships, I came away impressed with how the cruise line has continued to improve on this core cabin type.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean cruise ship cabin and suite guide

Wonder of the Seas

The reason I tend to book a balcony cabin the most is for the balance of space and amenities. It has more living space than an inside room, and it comes with a private balcony without paying a lot more for it in a suite.

I stayed in room 10552, which is a category 4D Ocean View Balcony cabin. This means my room is located on deck 10, and has a private bathroom, balcony, and room for up to two guests.

It connects with cabin 10550.

Balcony room

Here's a look around what this cabin looks like, and what you can expect in a similar room.

Matt and Jenna in The Bahamas

For $2,409.94, I spent seven nights in an ocean-view stateroom that sailed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Nassau, Bahamas, Labadee, Haiti, and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The ship has 2,867 staterooms. My room was towards the center of deck ten.

The best thing about booking a balcony cabin is the fact you have a private balcony that allows in natural light and fresh air. It's not nearly as expensive as a suite, but a step above inside rooms.

My room measured 182 square feet, and that is just enough space for two people to be comfortable for a week on the ship.

Key card slot

As you walk in, there is a keycard slot to put your card (or any card) to activate the electricity in the cabin. 

While it's meant to save energy when not in the room, most people tend to just stick any card they have in there to keep the air conditioning running during the warm summer months.

Royal Caribbean has mastered how to maximize the small space with more storage than ever, especially compared to older cruise ships.

Sitting area

A sitting area has a large mirror, along with a desk and chair.  There are USB and power outlets to keep everything charged here.

USB plugs in cabin

The sitting area is quite useful in terms of being somewhere you can work, eat, prep yourself, and have access to charging outlets. Power outlets used to be very few on cruise ships, but new ships come with many more outlets.

Across from the desk is a couch. I find the couch ends up being a collection location for bags, shirts, and souvenirs, but once in a while I clear off enough of it to actually use to sit on.


Next to the couch is a rather large closet, full of hangers, shelving and a safe.

Just like the outlets, there's so much more storage space in this balcony cabin than in a similar room on an older ship. In fact, the amount of storage space on Wonder of the Seas' standard cabins rivals suites on older ships.

Bathroom door on Wonder of the Seas

Every cabin on a Royal Caribbean ship has its own bathroom, and on Wonder of the Seas Royal Caribbean made a subtle change to the bathroom door.

The bathroom door is magnetized, so it shuts on its own when it gets close to closing.


The bathroom has a stand up shower, sink, and toilet.


The king-size bed is actually two twin beds pushed together. All Royal Caribbean cabins come in this configuration, but you can ask your stateroom attendant to split the beds if you'd like.

USB plug near bed on Wonder of the Seas

There is a nightstand on both sides of the bed, with a lamp and additional charging ports and power outlets.

Across from the bed is a large flat-screen TV with storage hooks below.

Wall hooks on Wonder of the Seas

The private balcony is accessible from a sliding glass door.

Balcony sliding door

The balcony is large enough for two people to enjoy, as it comes with with chairs and a table.  Having your own balcony means you have a great spot for sailaway, watching the sunset, or taking in the scenery while in port.

Balcony chairs

The balcony measures 50 square feet, and that adds a considerable amount of living space to the total room.

Looking out from balcony

A balcony cabin is the most popular type of cruise ship cabin, because it has just enough living space to feel comfortable. You won't confuse it with a suite, but compared to an inside room, it's so nice having more area to enjoy.

Plus, the balcony is such a nice area. My wife really enjoys going out to read a book on it.

I don't always book the same class of ship cabin on every cruise, but I tend to book an oceanview balcony most often and I never regret the choice!

Wonder of the Seas vs Symphony of the Seas

14 Dec 2023

How do two of Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ships compare to each other?

Symphony of the Seas

Wonder of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas are the two newest Oasis Class ships, and that makes them the biggest vessels packed with lots to do onboard.

You might think the ships are mostly the same, but there's some major differences between the two vessels. Truthfully, the ships are more the same than different.

Here's a look at the key differences.

Ship size

Wonder of the Seas in Labadee

Wonder of the Seas is slightly bigger than Symphony of the Seas, which was a marketing decision more than anything.

By making Wonder "bigger", she gets to assume the mantle of the world's largest cruise ship, and that gets Royal Caribbean more attention.

Symphony of the Seas docked

Here's how they size up:

 Wonder of the SeasSymphony of the Seas
Gross Tonnage236,857228,081
Width215.5 feet215.5 feet
(double occupancy)
Crew members2,2042,200


Both ships have complimentary and specialty dining choices, but it's the extra-cost restaurants where you will the variations.

In terms of complimentary food, you will find on either ship:

  • Main Dining Room
  • Windjammer Cafe
  • Solarium Bistro
  • Park Cafe
  • Cafe Promenade
  • Sorrento’s Pizza
  • Boardwalk Dog House
  • El Loco Fresh
  • Vitality Cafe
  • Coastal Kitchen (suites only)
  • Room service (continental breakfast only)
  • Johnny Rockets (breakfast only)
Windjammer entrance on Wonder of the Seas

The Windjammer on Wonder of the Seas is arguably better, as it's been moved to deck 15 and is significantly larger and with a better layout.

For the specialty dining, here's what the differences are:

RestaurantWonder of the SeasSymphony of the Seas
Chops Grille✔️✔️
Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar✔️
Izumi Hibachi & Sushi✔️✔️
150 Central Park✔️✔️
Sugar Beach✔️✔️
Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade✔️✔️
Johnny Rockets
(lunch and dinner)
The Mason Jar✔️
Vintages Wine Bar✔️
Hooked Seafood✔️✔️
Chef's Table✔️✔️
Jamie's Italian✔️


Jamie's Italian

The differences in specialty dining are few, with primarily being a different Italian restaurant in Central Park, and having Mason Jar.


In terms of bars, there are minor differences between the two ships.

BarWonder of the SeasSymphony of the Seas
Schooners Bar✔️✔️
Trellis Bar✔️✔️
Playmakers Bar & Arcade✔️✔️
The Lime and Coconut✔️
Diamond Club✔️✔️
Rising Tide Bar✔️✔️
Solarium Bar✔️✔️
Suite Lounge✔️✔️
Bionic Bar✔️✔️
English Pub✔️✔️
Vue Bar✔️
Wipe Out Bar✔️✔️
Cantina Fresca✔️
Pool Bar & Sand Bar✔️


Sundeck on Wonder

One difference Royal Caribbean made with Wonder of the Seas was having less suites than on Symphony.

Considering how lucrative suites are for the cruise line, as well as how in-demand suites can be for passengers, it seemed a strange decision to change the amount of suite cabins.

Suite Sun Deck on Wonder of the Seas

Wonder of the Seas has an entire suite neighborhood, which is the first Oasis Class ship with an eight neighborhood. In order to make room for the new amenities suite guests will enjoy, the amount of suites had to be cut back so there could be room for it all.

By adding a private deck area for suite guests, it cut into the amount of suites the ship can have.

Loft Suite

There are 188 suites on Symphony of the Seas, while Wonder of the Seas has 174 suites.

Symphony has a few more suite categories that Wonder does not have:

  • Villa Suite
  • Star Loft Suite
  • 2-bedroom Grand Suite

Read moreRoyal Caribbean suites guide & review



Nearly every Royal Caribbean ship differs on entertainment.  The cruise line likes to offer different shows on its ships, although sometimes you'll find a show repeated across multiple vessels.

The show lineup in the main stages are completely different on Wonder and Symphony.

Effectors 2. Photo by @dek_mak

Wonder of the Seas is currently the only Oasis Class ship without a full-length Broadway show onboard. Here's a look at the shows:

Royal Theater

  • Wonder
    • Voices
    • The Effectors II
  • Symphony
    • Hairspray
    • Flight: Dare to Dream


  • Wonder
    • inTENse
  • Symphony
    • HiRo

Studio B

  • Wonder
    • 365: The Seasons on Ice
  • Symphony
    • 1977
Wonder of the Seas in Nassau

Speaking of these venues, the AquaTheater on Wonder of the Seas is semi-enclosed in glass, which means it's more protected from the wind.


Playscape on Wonder of the Seas

There's so many activities on both ships.  It's what has made the Oasis Class such a hit with cruisers, but there are notable differences among each.

Wonder of the Seas has Wonder Playscape, which is underwater-themed climbing playground for kids. Kids can explore slides, climbing nets, and games. The Wonder Playscape is connected to the Wonder Dunes mini golf.

The space taken up by Wonder Playscape replaces what would have been a Flowrider, so Wonder only has one Flowrider while Symphony has two.

Waterslides on symphony of the seas

Both ships have Splashway Bay aquapark, as well as three water slides.

In addition, Wonder of the Seas has Music Hall instead of Dazzles on Symphony of the Seas.

Both venues specialize in live music, but Music Hall tends to have more cover bands.

Escape room on Symphony of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas has a dedicated escape room game.


The assortment of standard cabins is the same between Wonder of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas (minus the suite differences mentioned earlier in this article).

There are a few things within the staterooms that are different.

Bathroom door on Wonder of the Seas

The bathroom door on Wonder of the Seas is magnetic, which means it doesn't have that "ka-chunk!" sound the door makes when slamming shut.

The bathroom doors use a magnetic element which pulls shut the the door when it's within about 1/2 -1” from closure. 

USB plug near bed on Wonder of the Seas

There's also many more USB outlets on Wonder of the Seas.

In addition to the USB outlets at your desk, they've finally added USB outlets near the beds.

Wall hooks on Wonder of the Seas

Something else helpful on Wonder are hooks on the wall. Below the television are a series of hooks that came installed already.

Wall hooks are very helpful in a cabin because you can use them to keep apparel off the ground, and more importantly, free up drawer space.

Bottom line

Wonder of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas are very close in look and feel, with a few minor differences.

By far the most notable difference is with the suites, as Wonder has a more expansive offering. If staying in a suite is important to you, then having an entire suite neighborhood would be a nice option.

Boardwalk on Wonder of the Seas

The shows are different across both ships, which is standard among any Oasis Class ship.

Another difference worth mentioning between Wonder and Symphony is the price.  Generally speaking, Symphony will usually be priced a bit lower than Wonder simply because it's not as new.  Royal Caribbean tends to price newer ships with a premium.

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