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World’s biggest cruise ship prepares to make first sailing

The world’s largest cruise liner is undergoing finishing touches before it makes its first sailing in early March.

Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas cruise ship will set off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on its maiden voyage – a seven-day Caribbean itinerary – on 4 March.

Weighing in at 236,857 gross tonnes and measuring 362m long and 64m wide, it has capacity for 6,988 passengers, with more than 20 dining venues and 11 bars catering to them.

Its nearest competitor for size and capacity is sister vessel Symphony of the Seas, which can handle 6,680 passengers.

Both are part of the operator’s “Oasis class” series of mega-ships, of which the Wonder will be the fifth.

The vessel will have “eight distinct neighbourhoods” to explore – “a Royal Caribbean first”, according to the cruise line.

While its four predecessors have seven unique neighbourhoods (such as a watersports zone, a youth zone and “Central Park” area with shopping and outdoor plazas), the Wonder of the Seas will have an additional “Suite neighbourhood”, which is essentially a VIP area for guests staying in suites.

Royal Caribbean describes it as “a private experience like no other, featuring world-class dining, a new sun deck for unparalleled ocean views, a private lounge and restaurant and much more.”

It will also have the tallest waterslide at sea (the Ultimate Abyss), a casino, a carousel, a Flowrider surf machine, jogging track, zipline and outdoor cinema.

Entertainment promises to be on another level, too, with both an open-air AquaTheater and an ice-skating rink for some 100 performers.

Work began on the ship in 2019 in Chantiers de l’Atlantique, France, with a proposed launch for last year – but it was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It won’t be the brand’s biggest liner for long – Royal Caribbean’s sixth Oasis-class ship is on its way, with a slated launch date of 2024.

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