Symphony of the Seas cruise ship assessment: What to anticipate on board

Are you planning a cruise on Symphony of the Seas? Get able to be wowed.

In the event you’ve by no means been on this famously huge ship or one in all its big Oasis Class sisters earlier than, you may be amazed in any respect it has to supply, from outside decks loaded with amusements to seemingly infinite choices for eating, consuming and dancing the night time away.

Apart from Royal Caribbean’s new Icon of the Seas, which is in a category of its personal, there has by no means been one other set of ships as massive, daring and bustling because the Oasis Class vessels. Symphony of the Seas is among the latest and most amenity-filled of the 5 ships within the sequence.

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In the event you’re one of many almost 60 million folks dwelling within the northeastern U.S., the place Symphony of the Seas is predicated half the 12 months, you will see that nothing that comes near it by way of providing the final word megaresort-at-sea expertise.

As I’ve seen throughout a number of cruises on the vessel because it debuted in 2018, together with a weeklong voyage out of the New York space in Might, Symphony of the Seas is among the greatest cruise ships on the earth for cruisers who love a big-resort expertise with oodles to do all day and night time. It is also a very fantastic ship for households.

The largest caveat to selecting this ship: You need to be OK with crowds. And noise. Symphony of the Seas carries loads of individuals. And it is not a quiet ship. If it is intimacy and tranquility you need in a cruise trip, this is not the ship for you.

Overview of Symphony of the Seas

The massiveness of Symphony of the Seas is clear on this photograph of the ship subsequent to Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, which was the world’s largest cruise ship as not too long ago as 2009. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Symphony of the Seas was the world’s largest cruise ship when it debuted in 2018. Though it has since been surpassed in measurement by two newer Royal Caribbean ships (Marvel of the Seas and Icon of the Seas), it stays one of many giants of cruising — a floating megaresort on a scale that was inconceivable just some a long time in the past.

Royal Caribbean constructed the ship so massive — at 228,081 gross tons, it is almost 50% larger than the most important cruise ships of 15 years in the past — to not set a measurement file however to make sure there was room for an enormous vary of onboard actions and venues. On that objective, it delivers mightily. As you may examine under, it has extra eating places, bars, showrooms and decktop enjoyable zones than simply about any resort anyplace (on sea or land).

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It is also constructed to carry an unlimited variety of vacationers. Rising 18 decks excessive and longer than three soccer fields, Symphony of the Seas can carry an astounding 6,680 passengers with each berth crammed. Add in its 2,200 or so crew, and also you’re a ship that typically sails with almost 9,000 folks on board.

Even by land resort requirements, that is a wildly giant variety of folks sharing the identical resort house, for positive. However like all of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships, Symphony of the Seas has a brilliantly thought-out structure constructed round themed “neighborhoods” that spreads passengers round in a method that eases congestion.

Associated: The courses of Royal Caribbean cruise ships, defined

As with most Oasis Class ships, there are seven such neighborhoods on Symphony of the Seas, every with its personal vibe and comparable sights. This makes it simple to know the ship and discover your method round.

The seven Symphony of the Seas neighborhoods are as follows.

Leisure Place (Deck 4)

The Royal Theater on Symphony of the Seas. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

This neighborhood is dwelling to the ship’s principal theater, comedy membership, ice skating rink and on line casino. The Diamond Membership for high-level Crown & Anchor loyalty membership members is right here as effectively.

Royal Promenade (decks 5 and 6)


This inside mall-like house homes outlets, bars and quick-bite eateries, with the bars stealing the present. Ingesting spots on this zone embody the Bionic Bar, the place the bartenders are robots, and the Rising Tide Bar, which travels elevator-style between the Royal Promenade and Central Park above when you drink. That is additionally the place you may discover the ship’s energetic English-style pub, Copper and Kettle.

Vitality Spa and Health (decks 5 and 6)

Ahead of the Royal Promenade is the Vitality Spa and Health Middle, which features a salon, barbershop and thermal suite. The on-site Vitality Cafe affords contemporary juices and protein smoothies for a charge earlier than or after a exercise or remedy.

Boardwalk (Deck 6)


This open-air neighborhood was designed to imitate a basic seashore boardwalk of the kind you discover alongside the coast of New Jersey. It boasts a hand-carved wood carousel, scorching canine stand, sweet retailer, sports activities bar with arcade, and a Johnny Rockets burger joint. The primary sights are two big mountain climbing partitions and the AquaTheater, which is dwelling to spectacular water exhibits.

Central Park (Deck 8)


This open-to-the-sky neighborhood on the middle of Symphony of the Seas is crammed with dwelling bushes and crops, identical to New York Metropolis’s Central Park, and lined with the ship’s higher-end outlets and eating places, together with a steakhouse and Jamie’s Italian, a restaurant created by movie star chef Jamie Oliver.

Youth Zone (Deck 14)

In the event you’re cruising with younger youngsters, you may rapidly get to know this space, which is dwelling to the sprawling Journey Ocean youngsters membership and a drop-off nursery for infants and toddlers. A family-friendly escape room can be right here. Observe that a number of Youth Zone venues, together with the Gasoline Teen Disco and a kid-focused arcade, are one deck up on Deck 15.

Pool and Sports activities Zone (decks 15 and 16)

The primary pool on Symphony of the Seas. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

This top-deck zone of the ship is loaded with nearly each family-friendly amusement you would think about, together with a number of pool areas and scorching tubs, a kiddie splash space, big waterslides, two browsing simulators, a miniature golf course, sports activities court docket, a zipper line and a large dry slide attraction that may drop you 10 flooring to the Boardwalk space under. For these trying to get away from the children, it additionally affords an adults-only lounge space known as the Solarium.

What I cherished about Symphony of the Seas

The unimaginable array of issues to do


I used to be three days into my latest seven-day cruise on Symphony of the Seas after I realized that I hadn’t even been to the pool as soon as. Not as soon as. I had an excessive amount of else to do, from mountain climbing, miniature {golfing}, ice skating and zip lining to racing between extra big-production exhibits, parades, karaoke classes and dance events than I might rely. Plus, there have been all of the eating, consuming and dancing choices that I discussed above — a lot that I began to marvel if I would ever have time to sleep. It is a wildly various array of choices of the kind I really like in a big-resort expertise. You’ll, too, if having a lot of decisions when vacationing is a precedence. There are many massive cruise ships crammed with all kinds of onboard venues. However solely a handful supply as many choices as Symphony of the Seas.

The spectacular exhibits

Symphony of the Seas might have the best lineup of exhibits of any ship at sea. Its signature manufacturing, “Hairspray,” is among the most spectacular present choices on any cruise ship. It is a barely abridged model of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that ran in New York Metropolis for years. A second, in-house manufacturing known as “Flight: Dare to Dream” can be a showstopper, if not fairly Broadway high quality. There’s additionally “Hiro,” the you-can’t-believe-this-is-on-a-cruise-ship acrobatic and high-diving spectacular in Symphony of the Seas’ AquaTheater (sure, this ship is so massive it has a whole theater house simply devoted to water exhibits!). Symphony of the Seas’ third main theater for ice skating exhibits homes its personal you-have-to-see-to-believe spectacular with a number of the world’s greatest ice skaters.

The family-friendliness


From a hovering water park space with three of the best waterslides at sea to a few separate pool areas, two browsing simulators and an epic splash zone for the little ones, Symphony of the Seas has extra family-friendly watery enjoyable than nearly another cruise ship at sea. And that is simply the beginning of its family-friendly allures. Symphony of the Seas is a ship loaded with a number of youngsters membership zones, together with a teen-only hangout and a whole outside enjoyable zone (the Boardwalk) geared toward households. Even with out youngsters alongside on my latest Symphony of the Seas crusing (my three women are actually all grown), I noticed the attraction of this latter zone providing arcade video games, a carousel, climbing buildings for youths and family-friendly burger and scorching canine shops. I am unable to await grandkids (yep, that is a touch, women), so I’ve an excuse to ebook again onto this ship once more.

What I did not love about Symphony of the Seas

The skyrocketing price of eateries

The price of eating on the higher eating places on Symphony of the Seas has shot upward in recent times — a lot in order that, in lots of circumstances, these eateries are not definitely worth the splurge. I used to be shocked on my crusing to see pasta-focused Jamie’s Italian priced at a flat charge of $64.89 per particular person, together with the automated gratuity. That is a cheeky cost for a spot the place the waiters advocate bruschetta as a starter and a plate of linguini as a principal, even with dessert included. Simply three years in the past, Jamie’s was priced at a extra cheap $41.29 per particular person, together with the gratuity, and made my listing of favourite Royal Caribbean eateries. Not anymore. Be warned that Symphony of the Seas’ different high eateries — Chops Grille, Hooked Seafood, 150 Central Park and Izumi Hibachi — all now have equally sky-high costs, too. In some circumstances (see the eating part under), the costs are rising even because the eateries are making cost-cutting strikes which are noticeable. For the buyer, that is not an awesome mixture.

The issue getting present reservations

The “1977” ice present on Symphony of the Seas. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Some persons are tremendous organized about reserving cruise ship exhibits prematurely. Alas, I’m not one in all them. That turned an actual drawback for me after I sailed on Symphony of the Seas. After I went to ebook a seat for “Hairspray” about 5 days earlier than my crusing, each efficiency for the following week was bought out. I could not get a seat. Ditto for the spectacular AquaTheater and ice rink exhibits, in addition to each single comedy membership present (and there have been numerous them). In the event you’re a procrastinator like me, this might occur to you, and it may very well be stress-inducing.

The excellent news is that even should you battle to get a reservation for the exhibits as I did, you possible will nonetheless be capable to get into many, if not all, of them as soon as on board. The trick is to queue within the standby traces that start forming a couple of half hour earlier than each present. Since some folks do not present up for his or her reservations, there nearly all the time are a bunch of seats open on the final minute in each venue. The leisure employees releases the open seats about 10 minutes earlier than performances begin.

That mentioned, who wants that stress? There’s received to be a greater method.

The intrusive photographers

Whoever is working the images program on Symphony of the Seas must be reined in. Like, massive time. The variety of occasions I noticed ship photographers interrupting passengers within the midst of high-priced specialty restaurant dinners to laborious promote them on shopping for images was appalling. Even on the most elegant eating places on board, they had been trolling up and down the tables, breaking into dinner conversations to snap footage after which returning minutes later with the prints and a gross sales pitch proper there on the desk. That final half is a brand new degree of aggressiveness, and simply … uncool. You are already getting $100 per particular person or extra from many of those diners for his or her meals and drinks. You needn’t damage the class of the expertise with one other upsell.

Symphony of the Seas cabins and suites

An Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony cabin. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Symphony of the Seas has 34 cabin and suite classes — a mind-boggling quantity. However discovering the fitting cabin class for you is not as difficult as that quantity would possibly make it appear. Many cabin classes on Symphony of the Seas are basically the identical, aside from the place the rooms are positioned.

My cabin was an Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony — the most typical kind of cabin on Symphony of the Seas. Practically 60% of all cabins on the ship (1,316 out of two,759) fall into this grouping of rooms, break up amongst greater than a dozen classes that tie to completely different areas.

Like most cabins on this grouping, my cabin measured 182 sq. toes, not together with its balcony space. By resort requirements, that is comparatively small. But it surely’s typical for a balcony cabin on a cruise ship, the place house is at a premium, and it is sufficiently big to include every part you need in a cabin for per week at sea: a king mattress that may be break up into two single beds, a built-in desk and dresser space with a miniature fridge, a seating space with a settee, built-in closets, and a rest room.

For essentially the most half, I used to be proud of my Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony on Symphony of the Seas. Whereas it wasn’t high-end in its finishings or facilities, it had a clean-lined, modern look that felt trendy and up-to-date. Boxy blond wooden and walnut furnishings in opposition to impartial grey partitions and carpeting gave it a whiff of a Scandinavian trendy really feel. The lavatory was trendy and vivid, with a well-thought-out structure that made the very best use of restricted house.

If there was a weak level within the room, it was the mattress and bedding, which had extra of a low-end motel really feel than I might anticipate on the Royal Caribbean worth level. The sheets and quilt felt skinny. Whereas serviceable, the mattress wasn’t a wow.

Nonetheless, the room ticked many of the bins for a cabin at a midmarket degree. There was ample storage for 2 within the floor-to-ceiling built-in closets, which notably had been deep sufficient that my costume jackets and shirts might match straight in on a hanger. In contrast to on some ships, my hanging garments did not get smooshed sideways after I closed the closet door.

Whereas the nightstands subsequent to the mattress had been so small and slender that they appeared like afterthoughts, each had been topped with well-located lamps for studying at night time, and one aspect of the mattress was outfitted with a U.S.-style 120-volt plug completely positioned for charging digital units. (Memo to Royal Caribbean: In an ideal world, you’d need one in all these on either side of the mattress.)

Alas, in contrast to many new ships nowadays, the nightstand areas lacked USB-A and fast-charging USB-C ports. The one USB ports within the room are within the built-in desk space, which additionally has three U.S.-style 120-volt plugs and a European-style 230-volt plug.

Different Symphony of the Seas cabin tidbits:

  • There are blue “Sleeping off the journey” magnets to stay to your door when you do not need to be disturbed. That strikes us as an old-school option to do a do-not-disturb discover. Many cruise traces in recent times have switched to extra subtle digital methods that allow you to push a button to activate a do-not-disturb gentle outdoors your door.
  • Each cabin has a small hair dryer in a dresser drawer and a private secure in one of many built-in closets.
  • There is a flat-screen tv on the wall with motion pictures on demand, however they’re exorbitantly priced at $11.99 per film.

As is typical for Royal Caribbean ships, the cabin lavatory is practical and well-designed, if not significantly upscale in really feel. You will not discover marble-topped sinks or elegantly tiled showers with smooth Duravit fixtures at this worth level. However the semicircular plexiglass-walled bathe has sufficient room that you do not hit the perimeters when soaping up (not all the time the case on cruise ships), and there’s ample space for storing for toiletries on three open cabinets on the aspect of the self-importance and an extra open storage space under the sink.

One small gripe with the lavatory is that the toiletry choices are nearly nonexistent. The bathe has only a single liquid cleaning soap dispenser with what purports to be each physique wash and shampoo (name me a nitpicker, however I’ll observe that on land, these are thought-about to be two various things). There’s additionally no conditioner, neither is there physique lotion. Convey your individual, I assume.

Your cleaning soap can be your shampoo on Symphony of the Seas. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Those that need one thing a bit extra unique than a balcony cabin resembling mine can ebook one of many 190 suites on the ship — a few of them really large and splendid. Among the many massive mass-market traces, Royal Caribbean has lengthy had a number of the most spectacular suites at sea, together with two-story-high complexes discovered on all Oasis Class ships resembling Symphony of the Seas.

The most important suite on the ship, the double-decker Royal Loft Suite, measures an astounding 1,530 sq. toes, not together with balcony house — greater than eight occasions the scale of my balcony cabin. It has two bedrooms, two bogs, a eating room and a front room. It additionally comes with such high-end touches as Duxiana mattresses and Frette linens — no skinny sheets right here.

At 850 sq. toes, the Royal Loft Suite’s balcony house is 17 occasions the scale of the balcony I had with my balcony cabin (sufficiently big to have its personal sitting space, bar space, eating space and a whirlpool).

Symphony of the Seas can be dwelling to probably the most epic household suites ever conceived for a cruise ship.

Associated: Royal Caribbean cabin and suite information: All the pieces you need to know

Dubbed the Final Household Suite and measuring a palatial 1,346 sq. toes, it spans two decks which are loaded with all kinds of kid-friendly sights, together with an air hockey desk, a constructing block wall, desk tennis on the balcony and a vertical climbing maze.

The Final Household Suite. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

There’s additionally a crawl-through nook connecting the primary bed room for adults and a second kiddie bed room, plus — absolutely the best characteristic of all — a slide that descends from the second ground of the advanced to the primary ground. (Don’t fret, there are stairs for individuals who need to transfer between flooring the normal method.)

Different kinds of cabins on Symphony of the Seas embody windowless inside cabins. However in a twist, many of those cabins have “digital balconies” that allow you to see what is going on on outdoors the ship in actual time.

Symphony of the Seas eating places and bars

As is typical for Royal Caribbean ships, Symphony of the Seas is filled with eating choices — some included within the fare, some at an additional cost. It is received a smorgasbord of bars, too.

Even on one of many ship’s longer, nine-night sailings, you may have bother visiting each foods and drinks outlet on board. In reality, we do not advocate you even attempt. Simply choose a couple of favorites and save the remaining for an additional crusing.

Eating places

Like all Oasis Class ships, Symphony of the Seas has an unlimited principal eating room and an off-the-cuff buffet eatery the place meals are included within the fare. As well as, you may discover seven extra included-in-the-price informal and fast chunk shops — greater than nearly another ship at sea. And that is only the start with regards to the eating choices.

Along with the included eateries, Symphony of the Seas is dwelling to an astounding array of 9 extra-charge eating venues serving every part from high-end steaks to sushi.

The Predominant Eating Room on Symphony of the Seas. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Among the many included choices, my favourite is Solarium Bistro, which is a small buffet eatery on the entrance of the ship that typically affords extra wholesome choices than the primary Windjammer buffet in the back of the ship.

I used to be thrilled to search out Buddha bowls at Solarium Bistro at lunchtime crammed with quinoa, cherry tomatoes, inexperienced onions, diced mango, sliced cucumber and edamame. Grilled contemporary asparagus, grilled peppers, ratatouille and a few tasty Indian dishes additionally made an look.

A number of occasions larger than Solarium Bistro, the Windjammer buffet serves a wider mixture of dishes and has way more seating. However it may be jam-packed at occasions and never all the time a pleasing expertise. On some mornings, I struggled to search out an open desk for breakfast, and the crowds had been so thick across the meals stations that I might barely stroll via the house. That is regardless of Windjammer’s meals stations being arrange in a single open house the place you possibly can rapidly see every part that’s on supply. That is an enchancment versus the historically lengthy and slender buffet traces on some ships that trigger lengthy backups.

Symphony of the Seas’ Predominant Eating Room can accommodate greater than 1,000 folks at tables sprawled throughout three flooring, and the expertise is as you’d think about at a restaurant that massive. When you’ll get table-served meals right here which are included within the fare, do not anticipate something too connoisseur.

Along with the above, Symphony of the Seas additionally has a number of included-in-the-fare cafe-style venues that provide fast bites, some higher than others. I used to be a fan of the make-your-own tacos at El Loco Recent on the high of the ship. However I did not love the claustrophobic crowds that typically mobbed it (not all the time). I used to be disenchanted within the pizza at Sorrento’s on the Royal Promenade (to be truthful, I am normally disenchanted within the pizza on ships; it is a weak level within the cruise world). However I do give the Boardwalk Canine Home excessive marks for delivering not simply yummy scorching canines however yummy brats, too.

Additionally included within the fare is Park Cafe within the Central Park space, the place you possibly can nosh on quick-serve breakfast sandwiches and bagels within the morning and salads and paninis at lunchtime. Cafe Promenade on the Royal Promenade is the place to seize your morning espresso (each included-in-the-fare drip espresso and extra-charge specialty espresso drinks). Simply be warned that the specialty espresso aspect of the venue is not actually arrange for the quantity of consumers it will get, and the baristas aren’t as well-trained as they need to be. You will wait a very long time in line for an espresso drink that will or is probably not burnt.

Two no-extra-charge soft-serve ice cream stations are in the course of the pool deck to your sugar repair.

The additional-charge eateries on Symphony of the Seas run the gamut with regards to delicacies, degree of ritual and price.

You will discover essentially the most laid-back (and least costly) extra-fee choices on the Boardwalk space of the ship, which is dwelling to Johnny Rockets and the Playmakers Sports activities Bar and Arcade. I am a sucker for the burgers at Johnny Rockets, however no fan of the brand new $14.99 upcharge to eat there (not too way back, it was simply $6.95). At that worth, it is not value it. As an alternative, get your burger repair throughout the best way at Playmakers, the place the home burger is even larger, juicier and higher priced ($11.99, together with a heaping portion of tacky fries).

For a extra high-end expertise, the place to go is Central Park. Along with a cultured wine bar and swanky outlets (Cartier, Hublot and Bulgari), it is lined with three of Symphony of the Seas’ most upscale eating places: 150 Central Park (the fanciest restaurant on board), Chops Grille (the ship’s steakhouse) and Jamie’s Italian (created by British movie star chef Jamie Oliver).

I attempted all three throughout my week on board and had combined emotions about all of them, given their excessive worth factors. Whereas 150 Central Park ($76.69 per particular person with the automated gratuity, not together with drinks) was an intimate and chic venue, its culinary lineup lacked the finesse I anticipated for a flagship fantastic eating institution. The scallops in my starter had been small and watery, their taste overpowered by a chorizo sauce that dominated. My principal dish, a lamb Wellington, wasn’t way more impressed, resembling one thing nearer to a soggy sausage roll. Each had come really useful by my waiter.

A disappointing scallops starter at 150 Central Park. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY
Lamb Wellington at 150 Central Park. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

It was a shock that 150 Central Park would let me down. I went into the venue with recollections of a number of nice meals at variations of the restaurant on different Oasis Class ships. However these dinners occurred when the menu was beneath the course of James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz. I have not been again since Royal Caribbean ended its partnership with Schwartz in 2018.

If it is a date-night dinner you are after, Chops Grille is my choose over 150 Central Park. Its steaks had been as juicy and prime as at any land-based steakhouse. My quibbles right here had been across the sides (the macaroni and cheese dish was sadly flavorless, the creamed spinach watery) and the loudness degree of the piped-in background music. The music quantity was intrusive sufficient that I had bother listening to my dinner companion (and, can I simply say, the entire concept of background music in a cultured steakhouse is simply … improper).


As talked about above, Jamie’s Italian was expensive for what it was: an Italian eatery specializing in do-it-yourself pasta.

Not distant on Deck 12 is one other high-priced restaurant that’s as amusing as it’s gimmicky: the “Alice in Wonderland”-themed (and molecular gastronomy serving) Wonderland. Order the brief ribs, which is able to soften in your mouth. Skip the branzino, which will not. And inform your waiter to convey the showiest starters, only for the enjoyable of them — significantly the smoke-infused “fowl’s nest” egg dish. They will not all wow you, tastewise. However that is not the purpose.

You additionally will discover Japanese delicacies on Symphony of the Seas at Izumi Hibachi and Sushi on Deck 4. It is two eating places in a single, with a hibachi eatery to the fitting of the check-in desk and a sushi restaurant and bar to the left. You probably have youngsters, ebook the hibachi aspect for traditional, family-friendly hibachi hijinks. Skip the sushi aspect, which is not nearly as good as you may discover again dwelling.

For higher seafood, my choose is Hooked Seafood, one in all my favourite eateries on board. Order the fresh-shucked oysters as a starter (should you’re sitting on the bar, you may see them shucked proper in entrance of you) and garlicky mussels as your principal. The lobster macaroni and cheese aspect dish is a winner, too (in contrast to its counterpart at Chops Grille, it rocks the flavour).

Hooked Seafood continues to be one in all my favourite meals spots regardless of what clearly have been money-saving cutbacks on the flat-fee eatery. Royal Caribbean regulars will discover that the crab-stuffed entire principal lobster is not on the menu, and the pricier components of the Royal Seafood Platter (soft-shell crab and scallops) are gone, changed by cheaper fried gadgets like calamari and coconut shrimp.

That is, alas, a development I noticed throughout Symphony of the Seas when on board in Might. Royal Caribbean hasn’t formally mentioned something about cutbacks on board its ships of late, however I positively received the sense that there had been some cuts to meals operations because the final time I had sailed with the road, presumably to decrease prices.

I additionally thought a number of the eating places had been barely understaffed and/or working with employees members who weren’t as effectively educated as they was.

One Symphony of the Seas restaurant you may by no means see except you pay up for a high suite is Coastal Kitchen. Open to suite company solely, it serves higher-end fare than what you may discover in the primary eating room in a extra intimate setting. On the very high of Symphony of the Seas overlooking the primary pool space, it additionally boasts beautiful 270-degree views.


The Boleros bar alongside the Royal Promenade. BELINDA LUKSIC

You’ll by no means be greater than a brief stroll away from a bar on Symphony of the Seas. There may be at the least one and infrequently a number of consuming spots in almost each neighborhood.

Probably the most intimate and chic consuming venue is Vintages, a cultured wine bar with indoor and outside seating within the upscale Central Park space. It is normally quiet and is the right place for a romantic predinner drink.


Additionally in Central Park is the all-outdoor Trellis Bar. And just some steps away is the Rising Tide Bar, if it is there. Just like the Cheshire Cat, it disappears typically, descending three decks to the Royal Promenade under. It’s absolutely the best elevator at sea.

Along with the occasional presence of the Rising Tide Bar, the Royal Promenade is dwelling to the famous-in-the-cruise-world Bionic Bar, the place a robotic arm will combine you a cocktail. It is kitschy enjoyable to look at the robots in motion, but when a high quality drink is vital to you, let another person spend the cash to order one right here. There is a motive most bars have human bartenders.

As an alternative, I like to recommend ordering a mojito at Boleros, a Latin-themed bar and lounge on the different finish of the Royal Promenade. Or, seize a pint on the typically energetic Copper and Kettle close by. There’s reside music at each venues.

One deck up, overlooking the Royal Promenade, is the nautical-themed Schooner Bar. It has an eclectic cocktail menu and, within the night, reside piano music. A signature of all Royal Caribbean ships, it is an awesome bar, although its location above the noisy Royal Promenade on Symphony of the Seas is a design flaw. When there’s one thing massive and energetic like a parade or dance get together occurring within the Royal Promenade (and there typically is), it will get so loud you possibly can’t hear your self discuss.

Different inside bars embody two-deck-high Dazzles, a reside music and dancing spot typically neglected by company (after I visited, it was so useless I walked proper again out).

The Dazzles Bar overlooks the Boardwalk space. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

There’s additionally no scarcity of bars on the ship’s outside decks, together with round the primary pool areas (the Pool Bar, Sand Bar and Mast Bar), the browsing swimming pools in the back of the ship (the Wipe Out Bar) and the adults-only Solarium space (the Solarium Bar). The Solarium Bar is my favourite of the bunch for its relative calmness and beautiful ocean views.

For a basic sports activities bar expertise, head to Playmakers Bar and Arcade within the Boardwalk space.

In the event you like a smoked cocktail, do not miss the hidden nine-seat bar on the entrance to Wonderland, which serves the identical inventive cocktails you may discover within the restaurant. It has the one smoker for drinks on board, used to create the restaurant’s signature Smoke Rings drink — a smoky tackle an old school that could be my favourite cocktail on the ship.

For espresso lovers, there is a Starbucks on the Royal Promenade and the beforehand talked about Cafe Promenade. Each serve espresso drinks made with Starbucks beans for a charge, however the snacks at Cafe Promenade are free, whereas those at Starbucks price further.


Observe that you probably have a drink package deal, you will not should pay for the espresso drinks made with Starbucks beans on the Cafe Promenade. Nevertheless, you will should pay for them at Starbucks, so skip Starbucks.

Starbucks espresso, smoothies and juices (additionally for a charge) can be found on the Vitality Cafe within the spa.

Associated: Cruise ship drink packages: A line-by-line information

Symphony of the Seas actions

The kiddie Splash Zone atop Symphony of the Seas. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Like its Oasis Class sisters, Symphony of the Seas is awash with actions of all kinds, almost all of that are family-friendly. And I am not simply speaking about swimming pools and waterslides, although there are many these. This can be a ship that provides all kinds of gee-whiz sights, from two browsing simulators to an ice skating rink to maintain you amused day and night time.

A number of of essentially the most over-the-top sights might be discovered within the Sports activities Zone in the back of the ship’s high deck. Along with the browsing simulators talked about above (there are two, designed by FlowRider), there is a sports activities court docket the place you possibly can play basketball or volleyball 16 tales above the ocean, a miniature golf course and — get this — a zipper line.

The zip line is not all that lengthy. But it surely’ll take you flying over the Boardwalk space 10 decks under, which is fairly cool.

Over time, I’ve seen sufficient cruise passengers wipe out in spectacular trend on Royal Caribbean’s browsing swimming pools (they’re now on 14 of the road’s ships) that I’ve averted ever making an attempt to surf on one. That is not an image I need to see on Instagram. However passengers appear to like them. They’re all the time effectively used.

The Sports activities Zone can be the place you may discover the Final Abyss, a 10-story slide (dry, not moist) that swirls all the way down to the Boardwalk space under. It seems terrifying, however within the title of analysis, I used to be decided to offer it a go on my latest crusing. Alas, each day, I might get up saying I might do it, and by dusk, I had discovered an excuse to offer it a miss. I’m wimpy that method. That mentioned, I have been informed it is not almost as terrifying because it appeared, which is the best way slides must be, in my view.

The Final Abyss slide swirls all the way down to the Boardwalk. BELINDA LUKSIC

For followers of moist slides, the place to go on Symphony of the Seas is the Good Storm water park space, which is a sight to behold. It has three big waterslides of a scale solely discovered on the most important cruise ships.

Symphony of the Seas’ high decks additionally characteristic three pool areas, oodles of scorching tubs and a big splash playground for youths.

As well as, the Solarium is a whole multideck adults-only lounge space with scorching tubs on the entrance of the ship.

The Solarium is a putting house. It sits beneath a partial glass protecting that protects it from the wind that whips over the ship’s bow when it is in movement. It is a good respite from the mayhem typically discovered within the open-to-kids pool areas.

The one main outside exercise not amongst all these high deck areas is Symphony of the Seas’ twin mountain climbing partitions. They flank the AquaTheater on the far finish of the Boardwalk, and so they’re huge.

Two big mountain climbing partitions are within the Boardwalk space. BELINDA LUKSIC

The actions proceed indoors, too. At choose occasions (normally on sea days), the leisure employees affords ice skating classes and laser tag in Studio B, the ship’s indoor ice rink (for laser tag, the ice is roofed with a ground and inflatable obstacles are added). Each are standard, so enroll or get in line as early as potential.

Symphony of the Seas additionally has an escape room aimed on the household crowd, and for youths of all ages, there are arcade video games at each the Playmakers Bar on Deck 6 and at a devoted arcade space on Deck 16 subsequent door to El Loco Recent.

The arcade on Symphony of the Seas. BELINDA LUKSIC

In the event you’re courageous sufficient to sing in entrance of your fellow passengers, or should you simply need to watch others accomplish that, you may discover a lounge that’s partially devoted to karaoke on the Royal Promenade. It is known as On Air, and it typically will get packed when the singing begins. Do not miss it. The performances might be skilled degree. Karaoke on ships is a severe factor.

For individuals who like gaming, there’s a big on line casino in the course of the ship on Deck 4 the place smoking is allowed and a smaller one close to the ship’s theater that’s only for nonsmokers.

For pampering, the Vitality Spa and Health Middle on decks 5 and 6 is the place. It affords a full array of spa therapies (massages, facials and extra) and salon companies.

The health middle is a first-class gymnasium with a variety of train tools and (further cost) courses, too.

All that mentioned, my favourite space on your complete ship is Central Park. It has been 15 years since Royal Caribbean first unveiled a Central Park space on a ship, on the then-revolutionary Oasis of the Seas, and it nonetheless amazes me that it is one thing that exists on floating vessels (it is now on 5 Royal Caribbean ships, together with Symphony of the Seas).

What I really like most about Central Park is that it is a quiet respite from the bustle that you will discover in nearly each different a part of the ship. You possibly can sit on a park bench, identical to you’d in a park on land, within the shade of the bushes which are miraculously rising in the course of a cruise ship. You would possibly even overlook for a time that you simply’re on a ship.

Symphony of the Seas exhibits

The Broadway musical “Hairspray” is the marquee present on Symphony of the Seas. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Royal Caribbean ships are recognized for a number of the greatest leisure at sea, and Symphony of the Seas is not any exception. In reality, it could have the very best lineup of exhibits of any cruise vessel at present crusing.

The vessel’s signature manufacturing, “Hairspray,” is a barely abridged model of the Tony Award-winning musical that was the recent ticket on Broadway within the 2000s. You’ll have paid massive cash to see this in New York throughout its seven-year run there. However on Symphony of the Seas, a ticket is included within the fare.

It isn’t the Broadway solid performing “Hairspray” on Symphony of the Seas, nevertheless it’s a beautiful efficiency nonetheless. It takes place in a stunning 1,400-seat theater that rivals something discovered on Broadway.

The theater can be dwelling to a second musical spectacular created by Royal Caribbean’s in-house group: “Flight … Dare the Dream.”

Additionally the work of Royal Caribbean’s in-house leisure group is the beautiful “Hiro” aqua present carried out on the outside AquaTheater in the back of the ship. Sure, Symphony of the Seas has an AquaTheater, as do all Oasis Class ships. If you have not been on one of many vessels to see this, you may be amazed.

Like all of Royal Caribbean’s aqua exhibits, “Hiro” is a 45-minute spectacle of excessive diving, slacklining and synchronized dancing and swimming in essentially the most high-tech pool at sea. I am unable to get sufficient of those performances, although they often drag on too lengthy for my style. After about half-hour, a number of the watery amazements begin to repeat. That mentioned, my fellow passengers on Symphony of the Seas apparently cherished the size of “Hiro” simply because it was, given the roars of approval and a standing ovation on the finish.

The AquaTheater on Symphony of the Seas. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Professional tip: Arrive at the least a half-hour early for “Hiro” should you care the place you sit. Even with a reservation for entry (which is a should), you will see that the very best seats fill rapidly. In the event you do not need to get soaked, keep away from the primary few rows, that are squarely within the splash zone.

You additionally should not miss Symphony of the Seas’ ice skating present, “1977.” It is one other spectacle that you simply will not fairly consider is on a cruise ship. Simply the truth that there are ice skating rinks for passenger skating and ice exhibits on some Royal Caribbean cruise ships could also be mind-boggling to you should you’re new to cruising.

The storyline of “1977” entails a time-traveling hero who begins out in London in 1977 and travels around the globe and thru time to catch a jewel thief. However do not hassle making an attempt to comply with the plot. It is simply an excuse to current a skating extravaganza with colourful costumes and foot-stomping music.

Symphony of the Seas’ around-the-clock leisure additionally contains parades down the Royal Promenade and themed events in the identical house on some nights. I cherished the throwback tunes of the ’80s get together on the third night time of the cruise, even when it did not get as many individuals dancing as I might have thought.

Throughout from the ship’s Studio B ice rink, there’s additionally a comedy membership known as The Attic that hosts each day comedy exhibits. Simply be warned that the (free) seats for it (bookable via the Royal Caribbean app) promote out method prematurely of each crusing, and there is all the time a protracted standby line to get in.

Symphony of the Seas itineraries and pricing

Throughout the Northern Hemisphere’s colder months (November to April), Symphony of the Seas sails alternating Jap and Western Caribbean itineraries out of Miami. Throughout the six hotter months of the 12 months (Might to October), it repositions to the New York Metropolis space for voyages to the Bahamas.

The Jap Caribbean sailings out of Miami are seven nights lengthy and produce calls at Philipsburg, St. Maarten (the Dutch aspect of the island of St. Martin); both San Juan, Puerto Rico, or Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands; and both Nassau, Bahamas, or Good Day at CoCoCay, Royal Caribbean’s personal island within the Bahamas. The Western Caribbean cruises out of Miami are largely seven nights lengthy and produce stops at Nassau; Falmouth, Jamaica; Labadee, Haiti (a non-public seashore vacation spot); and Good Day.

Just a few one-off Western Caribbean sailings out of Miami are 4 nights in size and produce only one cease.

Observe that port calls in Labadee have been canceled via September as a result of unrest in Haiti. Usually, they have been changed with a cease at Grand Turk Island.

Symphony of the Seas sailings out of the New York Metropolis space are largely seven nights in size and produce calls at Port Canaveral, Florida (close to Orlando); Nassau; and Good Day. The journeys depart from the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey, not removed from Newark Liberty Worldwide Airport (EWR).

Symphony of the Seas docked in Nassau. BELINDA LUKSIC

Symphony of the Seas additionally sails a handful of longer, nine-night sailings from the New York space.

Costs for seven-night sailings begin at $609 per particular person, based mostly on double occupancy, for a windowless inside cabin. Balcony cabins begin at $729. Larger junior suites and suites sometimes begin at greater than $1,000 per particular person, with fares for high suites priced at greater than $10,000 for the week.

Vacation weeks and different prime journey occasions have increased charges.

What to know earlier than you go

Required paperwork

Since Symphony of the Seas sails round-trip from U.S. ports, U.S. residents can journey with both a present passport or an official copy of their beginning certificates and a driver’s license or different government-issued photograph ID. Passports have to be legitimate for at the least six months.

The title in your reservation should match that in your passport or different official proof of nationality. Double-check should you’ve not too long ago gotten married or use a distinct model of your title.


Symphony of the Seas company will discover an computerized service gratuity of $18 to $20.50 per particular person, per day, relying on cabin class, added to their onboard account and closing invoice. You might be allowed to regulate this quantity on the Visitor Companies desk earlier than disembarking.

An 18% gratuity is added to bar and spa/salon payments. You shouldn’t really feel pressured so as to add an extra tip.

Associated: All the pieces you want to find out about tipping on cruise ships


Royal Caribbean has one of many quickest Wi-Fi methods at sea, and you may reap the benefits of this on Symphony of the Seas. At the moment, Wi-Fi packages with streaming bandwidth price $29.99 per day for a single machine; nonetheless, costs do change over time. In the event you’re touring with household or sharing a room with buddies, search for multi-device packages which are inexpensive on a per-device foundation. Sure suite company obtain complimentary Wi-Fi, so know your included perks earlier than you join a package deal.

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Carry-on drinks coverage

A sidecar at Schooner Bar. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Royal Caribbean permits each passenger of consuming age to convey one bottle of wine or Champagne onto ships at boarding, plus as much as a dozen customary cans, bottles or cartons of nonalcoholic drinks resembling sodas. The road costs a $15 corkage charge should you convey the wine or Champagne to an onboard restaurant or different public areas to drink.

Smoking coverage

Smoking (together with e-cigarette smoking) is allowed solely in designated outside areas and the on line casino. It is forbidden in cabins and on cabin balconies, and people who violate this rule will face a $250 cleansing charge. Within the on line casino, solely cigarette smoking is allowed, and solely in designated areas.


In contrast to some traces, Royal Caribbean doesn’t construct self-service launderettes onto its ships, so you will not discover any on Symphony of the Seas. The ship affords extra-charge laundry, urgent and dry cleansing companies.

Electrical shops

You will discover North American-style 110-volt shops and European-style 220-volt shops in cabins, together with USB ports.

Foreign money

The onboard foreign money is the U.S. greenback. However you will not want money whereas on board. Symphony of the Seas operates on a “cashless system,” with any onboard purchases you make posting mechanically to your onboard account. You will obtain a SeaPass card that you should use to make costs, and Royal Caribbean will cost your bank card on the finish of the crusing to settle the steadiness.

Whereas onboard, you possibly can examine your steadiness via Royal Caribbean’s app, at Visitor Companies or by way of your in-cabin tv.

Ingesting age

You have to be 21 to eat alcohol on Symphony of the Seas.

Costume code

Throughout the day, there isn’t any particular costume code, and other people costume casually. If it is a sea day, and also you’re sure for the pool deck, meaning wanting like you are going to the seashore — T-shirts, shorts and bathing fits (with a cover-up to go inside) are simply fantastic.

Throughout the evenings, there’s an official costume code, nevertheless it solely applies to passengers getting into the primary eating room. On any given night time, one in all three costume codes will apply — informal, sensible informal or formal.

Informal means simply that — denims, polo shirts and sundresses. Good informal is a step as much as collared shirts, clothes, skirts and blouses, or pantsuits, with a jacket for males non-compulsory. Formal formally means fits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail clothes or night robes. However don’t fret should you do not need to go that fancy. Not everyone performs into it. You will see most males sporting fits or sports activities coats and girls in cocktail clothes.

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Backside line

In case your concept of the right trip is per week at a megaresort loaded with each type of amusement you would think about plus a lot of decisions for eating, consuming and leisure, you may most likely love Symphony of the Seas. Few different cruise ships are as energetic and activity-packed. Even on land, there aren’t all that many resorts that evaluate.

Symphony of the Seas additionally is especially fantastic for households, as it’s filled with family-friendly actions.

Simply put together your self for the crowds and noise that include a megaresort designed to carry almost 7,000 vacationers without delay. In the event you search a quiet and intimate trip expertise, this is not the ship for you.

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