The world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, will hit the sea for the first time this March.
The ship has been under construction for the past three years. The 1,188-foot-long vessel will leave for its first trip out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on March 4.
The ship was constructed at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, and boasts 18-decks capable of holding nearly 7,00 guests and 2,300 crew members.
“We’re excited to introduce guests across the world to Wonder of the Seas and its world-class features after a six-year-long process,” said Mark Tamis, the senior vice president of hotel operations at Royal Caribbean International, told CNN Travel.
“From planning to delivery, we’ve utilized our expertise across Royal Caribbean, as well as incorporating our guest’s suggestions and travel partner feedback to create something truly awe-inspiring.”
It is the fifth ship in Royal Caribbean’s renowned Oasis Class. The Wonder of the Seas will be the first of its kind to be designed with eight neighborhoods, introducing the new Suite Neighborhood alongside returning favorites Central Park, the revamped open-air Aqua Theater, where jaw-dropping, high-diving acrobatic and aquatic performances take place; Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea; and a 25-meter zip line ten decks above the Boardwalk neighborhood.
The Wonder of the Seas features 18 decks and 8 neighborhoods on board
“We’ve always prided ourselves on offering guests the best and most innovative ships to give them a truly extraordinary experience. Wonder encompasses all of that,” said Tamis.
The Wonder of the Seas was initially meant to make its premiere in 2021 but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The entire cruise industry has been racked with delays and suspensions since the beginning of the pandemic. The CDC has only recently loosened its guidance on cruise ships, having lowered the risk level of cruise trips from Level 4 to Level 3 this past January.
Cruise ships have frequently been sites of super spreader events throughout the pandemic. In December 2021, The CDC tracked a Covid-19 outbreak across 89 different cruise ships.
Cruise lines like Carnival Corporation reinstated guidelines on their ships such as mandatory masking and proof of vaccination, but the highly transmissible Omicron variant bypassed these precautions.
“Our health and safety protocols put in place have proven to be effective time and time again over the past year with our sailing s being restarted across each of our brands,” said Roger Frizzell, a spokesperson for Carnival, in an email to TIME magazine.
Carnival runs 32 of the 86 cruise ships currently being investigated by the CDC. 25 are operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises, 15 by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, and 4 by the Walt Disney Corporation’s Disney Cruise Line.
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