(7:30 a.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean took delivery of its newest -- and biggest -- ship to date, Wonder of the Seas.
The fifth in the iconic Oasis class of ships, Wonder of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world -- coming in at 236,857 gross tons and carrying almost 7,000 passengers at full occupancy.
Wonder begins its inaugural season in Fort Lauderdale on March 4, 2022, offering seven-night Caribbean cruises before heading to Barcelona and Spain to operate seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries for the summer.
After three years of construction a traditional flag-changing ceremony took place in Marseille,France, with shipyard partner Chantiers de l’Atlantique, marking the point at which the ship becomes part of the Royal Caribbean fleet.
Welcoming Wonder of the Seas to the Royal Caribbean fleet was Royal Caribbean Group Chairman Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, and Laurent Castaing, General Manager, Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, France.
"Wonder of the Seas will energize cruising in a bolder and bigger way. Adding this ship to our already best-in-class fleet elevates the company in continuing to lead the industry with new features and innovation," said Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group.
"Taking delivery of Wonder of the Seas is the culmination of 30 months of ingenuity and partnership across more than 2,000 committed crew members and workers who are among the best at what they do," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International."
The ship will broadly follow the "neighborhood" concept of its four sisters, but will introduce an eighth neighborhood for the first time -- the Suite neighborhood, which comes complete with an exclusive sun deck area.
It will also have a number of other firsts including a redesigned pool deck, Adventure Playdeck and a new bar concept -- The Vue situated on aft of Deck 15.
The ship also introduces new-to-the-line speciality restaurant, The Mason Jar, serving Southern food.