The largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean International’s Wonder of the Seas, has finally been officially christened in a ceremony at her new homeport, Port Canaveral in Florida.
The ceremony, held the evening of Friday, December 9, 2022, included a blend of traditional moments as well as high-tech, energizing snippets showcasing the ship’s innovations and celebrating her in style.
Wonder of the Seas Named
Royal Caribbean International has finally named the line’s newest ship, Wonder of the Seas, in a “Caribbean Chic” ceremony at Port Canaveral, with cruise line executives, VIPs, and media in attendance for the momentous occasion that has officially christened the new ship.
Festivities onboard the vessel included previews of the new, high-energy, tech-infused production shows, spectacular high dives in the AquaTheater, aerialists, and live music for the assembled guests.
Traditional elements, meanwhile, included the bagpipe performance always seen at Royal Caribbean’s ceremonial christenings. For Wonder of the Seas, the Mount Dora Pipe Band did the honors for the godmother procession.
The ship’s godmother, Marie McCrea, was chosen via a TikTok challenge, #SearchForWonderMom, that was launched on Mother’s Day to find the ship’s “WonderMom.” More than 16,000 nominations were submitted.
Nominated by her daughter, Allie, for being a devoted mom, wife, and cancer survivor, McCrea was selected for her resilience, her guidance, and courageous spirit for her family.
“I was in awe of all the incredible stories of the everyday heroes who are motivating those around them to discover, wonder and make memories,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “Marie and her family have a heartening and encouraging story that made us cry and rejoice and hopeful, and throughout it all, she inspired wonder and adventure in those around her.”
Also on hand for the naming ceremony were a number of finalists for the #SearchForWonderMom contest. The event continued with a unique choral rendition of the United States national anthem, traditional religious blessings for the ship, crew, and everyone who will sail on her, and remarks from different cruise line executives.
Many of the remarks thanked the shipbuilding group, cruise line leadership, and most of all, the ship’s crew. “Wonder of the Seas brings together the very best that Royal Caribbean can give,” said Bayley. “This truly is the very best family vacation today.”
Yet Bayley’s comments didn’t just consider that what the ship offers is wonderful, but that it is truly the ship’s crew that makes the vessel wonderful.
“What really brings Wonder of the Seas to life is its crew members,” said Bayley, noting that there are 2,300 international crew members onboard, and that more than 50,000 crew members work across the Royal Caribbean fleet and in the line’s private destinations.
To conclude the ceremony, McCrea launched the largest champagne bottle in the world – equivalent to 12 regular champagne bottles – to break on the ship’s bow in a time-honored moment every Royal Caribbean cruise ship has enjoyed in its history.
A Late Naming Ceremony
Since Wonder of the Seas set sail on her maiden voyage in March 2022, more than 180,000 guests have already sailed on the vessel – all without an “official” christening.
It is not unusual for cruise ships to have several initial shakedown cruises, including media sailings or repositioning cruises, prior to being named, to be sure small problems are corrected prior to the ship truly entering guest service.
Yet Wonder of the Seas has already been sailing for nine months, an unusually long period for a ship to welcome guests before its official naming ceremony, which more traditionally takes place within just a few weeks of a ship beginning service.
The delay likely related to bringing the ship to her official Florida homeport, Port Canaveral, as well as to ensuring travel restrictions have been lifted in order to host a stunning ceremony that could welcome all interested guests.
Prior to arriving at Port Canaveral, the ship first sailed a short series of voyages from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, then spent the summer season sailing in the Mediterranean.
Now, the world’s largest cruise ship will offer Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings, the majority of which are 7-night sailings, and all of which will include calls on CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in The Bahamas.
Depending on the sailing date, Eastern Caribbean itineraries will visit ports such as St. Thomas, St. Maarten, San Juan, and Labadee, while Western Caribbean sailings will visit ports such as Nassau, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Falmouth.
The ship will remain at Port Canaveral year-round at least through spring 2024.