The author on the world's largest cruise ship
Insider's reporter took her first cruise on board Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, the largest ship of its kind.Joey Hadden/Insider
  • The Wonder of the Seas is the largest ship of its kind and was my first cruise.

  • The lifestyle is appealing for many but not for me.

  • Managing crowds, planning ahead, and constant motion are some of the things that cruising entails.

I went on a cruise in April. It's a unique kind of vacation.

The author on deck 16 of the world's largest cruise ship
The author on the world's largest cruise ship.Joey Hadden/Insider

This is a new place for cruise novices. I had never seen a type of ship like this before I went on my first Caribbean cruise. There were multiple stops in the Caribbean Sea on the cruise.

Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas is the largest cruise ship of its kind. We sailed to Roatn, Honduras, Costa Maya, Mexico, and the private island in the Bahamas.

It was strange to be in the middle of the ocean. After a cold winter in New York City, a week of sunshine and cool breezes was what I needed.

I can see the appeal of cruising. According to Forbes, 30 million people take a cruise each year, up from 17.8 million in 2009, before the Pandemic hit.

It's not my ideal type of vacation because of the pros and cons. This is why.

The world's largest cruise ship has eight neighborhoods spread across 18 stories.

People love cruising. No other first-timers were found.

People on the top deck of Wonder of the Seas enjoy drinks at the bar
Passengers on board Wonder of the Seas.Joey Hadden/Insider

I realized that cruising is a lifestyle after talking to others. People I met were on cruises. They told me that they earn points on their loyalty programs by taking cruises for every vacation.

I might have been surprised. After two years of the Pandemic, cruising is still a popular vacation choice. My ship had a lot of people on it.

I didn't find any other first-timers on the ship.

Before you embark on your first cruise, you should know what to look for.

Many people say the motion of the ship makes them sleepy, but I got sick from it.

The author reacts to constant motion in her stateroom with motion sickness medication.Joey Hadden/Insider

I should have known that I would have a hard time cruising. I get sick from sitting in a chair. It was difficult for me to eat and participate in activities at the sea.

The location of my room was a challenge for seasoned travelers.

I could feel motion in my room since it was at the front of deck eight. The front of the ship is one of the worst places to be if you get sick frequently. The higher decks in the middle of the ship feel more stable.

The nights were rockier. I heard and felt thunder beneath me on the worst nights. I could hear furniture falling down in my room. I was worried the worst would happen the first night. Waves hitting the bow of the ship are a normal part of cruising.

I don't think I would be able to handle it.

We weren't docked long enough to get a true sense of each place on the ship.

Port stops from top left to bottom right: Roatán, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas, CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

I thought we'd spend more time in each port since it took so long to get there.

I thought I'd have time to explore the destination after I'd traveled to the ports. Hiking in Honduras and visiting ancient ruins in Mexico were some of the things I enjoyed doing. Some of my excursions ended in time to board the ship for departure.

We always left before the sun set, even though I was hoping to see the stops at night. The ship left at 4 p.m. after docking in the morning.

I wouldn't call the ports a real adventure in each destination. The experience made me realize that I like to vacation in one place with more time to explore it.

Water sports and mini golf are included in the all-inclusive activities on the ship.

Passengers wait in line to go down the tallest slide at sea.Joey Hadden/Insider

There were lots of activities at Wonder of the Sea. The guests could play games in the arcade. There were sports like ping pong, basketball, and rock climbing, as well as more surprising offerings like an escape room and a carousel.

The tallest slide at sea was on the waterslides. There are 10 stories.

Dancing, drumming, ice skating, and acrobatics were some of the entertainment options on the ship. Comedy shows were also held at night.

I'm not much of a swimmer. Most of the activities on board didn't appeal to me because I don't have children of my own. Water slides and sports are the top attractions on the ship. I had fun playing laser tag and mini golf, but the activities didn't appeal to everyone.

I was looking for solitude in the adults-only area, but I had to deal with a lot of people.

Several cruisers enjoy the pool deck.Joey Hadden/Insider

The world's largest cruise ship is always busy. The outdoor decks and the main buffet were packed with passengers. I found it difficult to find a chair at the pool because the elevators were so jammed with guests, and I felt it was faster to take the stairs.

It made me anxious but I was hoping for more. Adding to that my dislike for crowds made me stressed out during the entire trip. I did not find a quiet, crowdless section of the ship besides my room.

It was more expensive and difficult to go solo.

The author sits on the bed in her stateroom.Joey Hadden/Insider

As a solo traveler, my room was not as warm as I would have liked. I think it's a good idea to take a vacation buddy when you're on your own.

Booking a room on a cruise ship by yourself can result in higher prices that are equivalent to two people. Some cruise ships have solo cabins that are priced for one passenger. For example, Royal Caribbean has some ships with single rooms, but my ship did not.

The rates for my ship were per person. The cost per person went up when I only had one person selected. According to the LA Times, the single supplement helps the cruise line make up for the lost revenue from a second person on board.

I paid $2,000 for an ocean-view stateroom. If I had brought someone with me, it would have cost less.

It would have been a lot more enjoyable. There were a lot of social activities on the ship, but I felt lonely. I would love to have a conversation with someone who knew me and was familiar with my experiences. Being surrounded by so many people made me wish I could be with them.

I like the freedom to explore on my own, plan my own day, and ditch those plans if I feel like it.

Seven daily planners from the author's cruise.Joey Hadden/Insider

A cruise is good for you. There are lots of plans every day. The day's activities and events were listed in a dailyplanner.

Booking every hour of my day is not something I like to do. Figuring out how to make decisions was difficult.

The Royal Caribbean app is used to make reservations for the specialty restaurants and shows.

The Aqua Theater's most popular show was the acrobatic water show. I did not see the show until I got a ticket two nights later.

The expectation by the cruise line was that other passengers liked the system. The constant planning made me feel stressed.

The ideal cruise-goer is one who likes to plan vacations, doesn't mind crowds of other passengers, and will commit to the thrill of a water slide.

The author on deck 16 of Wonder of the Seas.Joey Hadden/Insider

I spent my time on the cruise laying in the sun, exploring ports, and participating in activities like rock climbing.

After spending seven nights on the largest cruise ship in the world, I can see why it would appeal to a traveler who likes all sorts of entertainment in one place. I don't think cruising is a good way to travel. I want to spend more time at each island. I'll go to the Caribbean on a plane.

Royal Caribbean has a private island in the Bahamas. I can see why people like it.

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