Royal Caribbean's Wonderland Restaurant Is A Fantasy Come To Life

Travelers who choose to vacation aboard cruise ships may experience enchanting new scenery at each seaport, but what if we told you something otherworldly exists just below deck? Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas, Earth's largest cruise ship, has colorful dining options across the board (20 to be exact), but none are quite like Wonderland, which we had the opportunity to visit during a recent sailing at the invitation of the cruise line.

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Thanks to our friends at Royal Caribbean, I was lucky to dine in this fantasy world and experience the kaleidoscope of imaginative eats it has to offer. The Alice and Wonderland-themed specialty restaurant can be found on deck 12. The décor in this especially velvety two-story space evokes magic and surrealism, though diners are also reminded of a larger-than-life reality beyond the grand windows looking out on the monstrous inner deck.

While the view is nice, you'll probably instead become fixated on your lively maître'd — the Mad Hatter. He's perfectly silly and admirable in his mismatched suit and fabulous metallic face paint. As far as the food goes, it's divided by elements: sun, ice, fire, earth and sea. To browse the options, you must dip a brush in magic water to paint over a blank sheet; the invisible ink reveals the restaurant menu.

Speaking of the options: Do not come here if you want chicken fingers and fries. Everything on the menu is fun and experimental. With that being said, if you appreciate foods you'd likely not get anywhere else, this could end up being the culinary highlight of your trip. So let's get this tea party going.

Shortly after we were poured chalices of wine, our attentive server brought an array of appetizers. First came The Bird's Nest deviled eggs on a bed of crispy noodles that were smoked at the table. They tasted strikingly similar to a campfire. Then came the incredible Mad Hatter's Purple Potted Shrimp wrapped with crispy noodles dipped in a cutesy mug of scotch bonnet, followed by Crispy Crab Cones with cilantro and avocado mousse, liquid lobster with bone marrow and caviar, and Citrus Seas Shhhh, which featured spicy tuna and floral yuzu granité in hollowed limes topped with citrus shaved ice.

After the starters were enjoyed, the main course was served. I had Halibut Cooked in Clear Paper with wild mushrooms and potatoes. I'm not quite sure why it was presented this way, because it wasn't as pretty as the other dishes and the "clear paper" was plastic (which looked a little "I just microwaved this" to me), but rest assured it was divine. I finished the whole thing without a lick of regret. If tuna is the chicken of the sea, this baby is a swan.

I don't normally order dessert when I'm out to eat, but I'm here to tell you it's absolutely necessary at Wonderland. The Forbidden Apple made with raspberry crêmeux, lemon curd, brown butter crumble, berries and yogurt ice cream is immaculate, but the true star is The World — a chocolate globe that reveals delectable peanut butter ganache, chocolate mouse and salted caramel ice cream once the waiter pours it over with melted chocolate. This dish is meant for sharing, but after the first bite you may consider finishing it yourself. I did.

As far as presentation goes, the Mystical Mushroom Garden wins Best in Show. It's made with pistachio, white chocolate mousse, red velvet and chocolate soil, soft-centered meringue, mango sorbet and berries. Trust us, you'll want to snap a photo for Instagram before digging into this one.

To dine at Wonderland, guests on the Symphony of the Seas must pay an add-on of $45 per person for a six-course meal. Believe us when we say you'll be talking about this place long after you've made it back to land. Was it real? Or just imagination? Immersive dining experiences are just one of many reasons to book a cruise. We bet you didn't know these 20 mind-blowing amenities even existed.

Both travel expenses and the meal that is the subject of this review was provided at no cost to the writer.