Royal Caribbean has done a brilliant job of making the cruise ship a destination in itself, especially with its Oasis-class vessels. Symphony of the Seas, launched in 2018, is the most recent evolution and is the world’s largest cruise ship.
Able to carry more than 6,000 passengers, Symphony of the Seas boasts a range of features that make it stand out as a unique travel option. Cruise Addicts set sail on Symphony of the Seas during the annual Royal Caribbean President’s Cruise and discovered how this ship offers a unique sailing experience and why it is such a popular option for travelers who are seeking energetic getaways with friends and family.
There are dozens of mega-ships out there to choose from, and most have an impressive array of eateries, entertainment options, and onboard activities and amenities. But Symphony of the Seas and its sister ships, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas are veritable floating cities that essentially are big enough to be able to offer “something for everyone.”
The ship is especially a draw for people who might have already visited the Caribbean cruise ports on the itinerary and aren’t looking for a deep dive into the destination. Instead, the focus is on the ship and a vacation that takes you to a sunny and warm climate while giving you a number of hassle-free options to keep you entertained onboard.
Symphony of the Seas is surprisingly easy to get around. It’s large but well designed with seven distinct neighborhoods, all with their own special vibe.
I found myself drawn to the Boardwalk, an outdoor space at the aft of the ship on Deck 6.
This is where you’ll find Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade. We indulged in the great menu of bar grub (fee), a few microbrews and games shown on 31 big-screen TVs. We were able to watch all the NFL games on Sunday in this giant bar.
The Boardwalk also is home to the AquaTheater, which hosts live music performances, movies under the stars and, notably, the thrilling acrobatic show “Hiro” which features high-wire acts, diving, dancing and synchronized slackliners. The neighborhood also has a carousel, Johnny Rockets restaurant, Sugar Beach candy store and Boardwalk Dog House serving up hot dogs.
Two rock-climbing walls flank the AquaTheater area, and the Boardwalk is the landing zone for the innovative Ultimate Abyss slide that starts way up on Deck 16 and sends passengers on a thrilling 10-story drop.
Central Park is an open-air section carved into the middle of the ship on Deck 8, which is filled with restaurants and bars (Vintages, Chops Grille, 150 Central Park, Park Café and Jamie’s Italian), quiet seating spaces and thousands of live trees and plants. The Rising Tide bar travels at designated times between Central Park and down a few decks to the Royal Promenade on Deck 5.
The Royal Promenade is the heart of the ship’s indoor activities, with music, bars, boutiques, Sorrento’s pizza, Starbucks, Café Promenade and the Bionic Bar with robot bartenders.
The Pool and Sports Zone features the main pool deck, hot tubs, Solarium pool area, Splashaway Bay water park for kids, the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, the Ultimate Abyss, two FlowRider surfing simulators, a sports court (for full-court basketball, soccer, and pickleball), mini-golf course and zipline (a short scenic ride over the top of the Boardwalk).
Entertainment Place is home to theaters for a wide range of shows. Here, you have the Royal Theater and its signature shows “Hairspray” and “Flight: Dare to Dream” (an ode to the history of flying), The Attic (a lounge and venue for late-night comedy shows), Jazz on 4, Studio B ice rink and Casino Royale.
Studio B offers the fast-paced skating show “1977” and is also used for the glow-in-the-dark laser-tag competition “Battle for Planet Z.”
Symphony of the Seas also features the Youth Zone, a large kids and teens complex and Vitality Spa and Fitness, a massive fitness center that is the match of most land-based commercial gyms. A gorgeous spa with thermal lounge (fee) is in this facility, too.
Dining is also a huge draw for this ship with dozens of options, aside from the main dining rooms and Windjammer Café buffet eatery. In addition to the restaurants I already mentioned above, you can try Hooked, a seafood restaurant. Passengers staying in suites can enjoy meals at Coastal Kitchen. The ship also offers Wonderland, a fantastical journey in molecular gastronomy, Izumi, an Asian eatery with a sushi bar and teppanyaki room, El Loco Fresh, a fast-casual Mexican restaurant and Solarium Bistro.
Symphony of the Seas sails weeklong voyages to the Caribbean, and you run out of time before you can try everything onboard. You have to take a second cruise to fit it all in – and that’s just what Royal Caribbean is aiming for with this one-of-a-kind ship.
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