Royal Caribbean is building the new world’s largest cruise ship despite the pandemic still halting sailings — see the Wonder of the Sea

Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
The Wonder of the Seas.
  • Royal Caribbean’s latest Wonder of the Seas cruise ship was transferred to its outfitting dock on September 5 in preparation for its 2022 debut.
  • The Wonder of the Seas is set to be the world's largest cruise ship, according to Royal Caribbean’s president and CEO Michael Bayley in a report by the Orlando Sentinel.
  • The ongoing and delayed construction of the ship comes during an unsteady time for the travel industry amid the pandemic.
  • Public safety concerns over large, crowded cruise ships came after thousands of people linked to cruise trips were left stranded, infected, quarantined, or dead during the start of the pandemic's global spread.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Royal Caribbean's new Wonder of the Seas cruise ship was transferred to an outfitting dock on September 5 in preparation for its 2022 debut despite the current tumultuous state of the travel industry amid the pandemic.

The construction of the ship was first announced in 2019 as the fifth boat in Royal Caribbean's "Oasis" lineup, which consists of the world's biggest cruise ships, according to the cruise line. However, this latest addition to the family will be larger than its four predecessor, according to Royal Caribbean's president and CEO Michael Bayley in a report by the Orlando Sentinel.

The Wonder of the Seas ship was originally set to embark from Shanghai in 2021, but its initial debut was delayed due to the pandemic, USA Today reported.

While the 2022 unveiling will hopefully come at a coronavirus-free time, the travel industry — including cruise lines — has been struggling amid the pandemic.

Rewinding back to the beginning of COVID-19's global spread, large cruise ships were notoriously known as hotspots for the virus, leaving thousands of passengers and crew members infected, dead, stranded, or quarantined. As a result, the industry — now crippled by the lack of sails, overhead costs, and public image and trust issues — may have an uphill battle before it can resume trips akin to pre-coronavirus times.

Despite this, the Centers for Disease Control's no-sail order until the end of September, and COVID-19 cases tied to cruises as recent as July, not everything related to the cruising is as bleak as it seems. Many cruise-goers are still eager to get back onto ships, and in April, bookings for 2021 cruise trips started rising again despite the ongoing pandemic.

Keep scrolling to see the Wonder of the Seas, which will hopefully debut during better times:

There is not a lot of information about the ship that is available yet since it's still under construction. However, the Wonder of the Seas' move to the outfitting dock marks the first time the ship has been in water, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
The keel of the Wonder of the Seas being lowered into the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France to begin construction in 2019.

Source: Orlando Sentinel

The cruise ship is set to be able to accommodate 5,000 guests with double occupancy and 2,200 crew members along the boat's 18 decks, Royal Caribbean International's director of public relations Lyan Sierra-Caro told Business Insider in an email.
Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
The Wonder of the Seas.
In total, the Wonder of the Seas will be 1,188 feet long, 215 feet wide, and weigh 228,000 tons. The future unveiling of the Wonder of the Seas will mark the cruise line's first Oasis ship debut in Asia, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
Construction on the Wonder of the Seas at the outfitting dock in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France on September 5.

Source: Orlando Sentinel

CruiseComplete.com's president Heidi Allison told the Los Angeles Times that bookings made around March and the beginning of April for 2021 cruises increased 40% compared to bookings in 2019.
Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
Construction on the Wonder of the Seas at the outfitting dock in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France on September 5.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Of this increase, 11% of the bookings were made by passengers who had a cancelled 2020 cruise vacation, which often either results in cruise credits or full refunds.
Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
Construction on the Wonder of the Seas at the outfitting dock in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France on September 5.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Business Insider

The aforementioned Los Angeles Times report also states that a CruiseCritic.com's online poll of 4,600 cruisers showed that 75% of those polled will be resuming cruise trips, potentially at a higher frequency, after the pandemic is over. To compare, 25% said that they plan to take less or no cruise trips altogether.
Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
Construction on the Wonder of the Seas at the outfitting dock in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France on September 5.

Source: Los Angeles Times

According to a report by TradeWinds, UBS analyst Robin Farley believes that 75% to 80% of cruise ships will be back in operations, albeit at a decreased level of occupancy, by the second half of 2021.
Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
Construction on the Wonder of the Seas at the outfitting dock in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France on September 5.

Source: TradeWinds

This could potentially set the 2022 release of the Wonder of the Seas on a good track, especially since Royal Caribbean's stock price — and other cruise lines like Norweigan and Carnival — have been steadily trending upwards since the beginning of August.
Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
Construction on the Wonder of the Seas at the outfitting dock in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France on September 5.
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