Ship Review: Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International’s fourth Oasis-class cruise ship Symphony of the Seas is the cruise line’s newest cruise ship and the world’s new ‘largest cruise ship ever built’. She was launched in spring 2018 at the STX France shipyard.

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Symphony of the Seas joins sister ships Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas and debuted with all of the attractions and activities that have made the Oasis-class so popular, while also bringing to the cruise industry a number of Royal Caribbean and industry-wide ‘firsts’.

Like the rest of the Oasis-class ships, she features the seven neighbourhood layout introduced aboard class leader Oasis of the Seas and like sister ship Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas carries 5,479 passengers, making her slightly larger than the 5,400-passenger, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

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Among the seven neighborhoods on-board Symphony of the Seas are Boardwalk, Central Park, Entertainment Place, the H2O Zone and Kid’s Avenue.

Symphony of the Seas also features a number of ‘firsts’ for the Oasis-class (migrated from the Quantum-class) such as the Bionic Bar, as well as recently introduced Oasis-class features that have proven popular aboard Harmony of the Seas, such as the Ultimate Abyss ten-story slides.

Bionic Bar – where your drinks are prepared by robots

The Ultimate Abyss – a ten-story drop down the stern of the ship.

In an effort to make Symphony of the Seas the true new flagship of the Royal Caribbean line, though, she was built with a number of ‘first for the line’ features.

Among these is a new mobile check-in service (details to come) that uses facial recognition technology, which the line said speeds up the process in the terminal.

Accommodation

In terms of cabins, Symphony of the Seas features a huge variety of choices, from solo cabins to expansive suites, as well as Boardwalk-, Promenade- and Central Park-view rooms.

With a passenger capacity of almost 5,500 passengers, when you pick a cabin aboard this ship you’re essentially choosing real estate in a small town where every property is available. Most inside cabins also feature virtual balconies.

The Royal Loft Suite

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The new Ultimate Family Suite

A new Ultimate Family Suite caters to cruisers with large families who don’t want to get separate staterooms, but still want the feel of a penthouse suite. It comes with features such as a slide from the kids-only bedroom to the living room; a movie theater-style TV room with a popcorn machine and library of video games; a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall; and an air hockey table.

The cabin also has a 212-square-foot wraparound balcony with a full-sized whirlpool, climbing wall and kid-friendly pool table. The catch (apart from the price)? There is just one Ultimate Family Suite on Symphony of the Seas. Passengers must call to book.

Symphony of the Seas’ Boardwalk

The boardwalk is a hugely popular space on the Oasis-class ships and aboard Symphony of the Seas it has been enhanced with a new entertainment venue, The Playmakers Sports bar, that Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley describes as a “day/night experience.”

The new Playmakers aboard Symphony of the Seas

Playmakers spans the length of the Boardwalk and is aimed at families, with more than 30 TVs streaming sports games (such as professional football, college basketball and soccer) and a variety of arcade games including Ms. Pacman and Skeeball.

A menu offering craft beer and pub-style fare such as wings and burgers is also available. “It is the best sports bar — we hope — in the world,” said Bayley, during a press conference to announce Symphony’s new features.

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New children’s splash park aboard Symphony of the Seas

Sugar Beach, the Boardwalk’s candy shop, found on other Oasis-class ships, is present aboard Symphony of the Seas too, but on this Boardwalk it has been expanded. “We’re bringing a whole new level of energy and interactive experience — both with technology and of course with programming in terms of the experiences in these venues,” Bayley added.

New Dining Venues

A new dining concept for Royal Caribbean, El Loco Fresh, debuted aboard Symphony of the Seas, the Mexican restaurant serves quick bites such as tacos and Mexican food to-go in the Sports Zone neighborhood.

In the Solarium, seafood lovers can get their fill of New England-inspired fare at Hooked Seafood. The casual venue features a menu of fresh seafood and a raw bar; it opens for lunch and dinner.

New Entertainment

New production shows and a Laser Tag Arena also made their debut aboard this new mega cruise liner.

In addition to its headlining show “Hairspray”, the Royal Theater hosts “Flight,” a historical satire on the evolution of air travel, with homage to the Wright Brothers, while back at the high-diving outdoor AquaTheater, HiRo (a high-energy acrobatic show) has been introduced.

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In the Studio B ice rink theater a new show called 1977 (inspired by time traveling), is also shown for the first time.

Another highlight for families, Symphony of the Seas’ Studio B is a trans-formative space, becoming a laser tag arena during the day. Royal Caribbean say this is the world’s largest ever laser tag arena. It will be glow-in-the-dark and boast a galactic theme.

Itineraries

Symphony of the Seas will sails Mediterranean itineraries in spring and summer 2018 doing seven-night Med cruises from Barcelona before heading over to the U.S. in the fall, where it will sail 7-night cruises to the Caribbean from Miami.

Symphony of the Seas will become the fourth Oasis-class ship in Florida when it arrives at PortMiami’s Terminal A, which is under construction and expected to be completed by October 2018.

“What can you say when the best keep getting better?” Bayley asked at the press conference, adding that Symphony of the Seas is already outpacing Harmony of the Seas – until now Royal Caribbean’s most popular ship – in terms of sales.

See the video below for a quick preview of Symphony of the Seas:

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