A robotic bar, the longest slide on the high seas, and an ice skating rink are just some of the crazy attractions awaiting you on the new Royal Caribbean ship Symphony of the Seas. I was allowed to visit the largest cruise ship in the world, and I’m about to show you my personal highlights!
Have you heard of the Symphony of the Seas? She has overtaken Instagram in the last few weeks. This ship is the newest in the fleet of US cruise company Royal Caribbean. Not only is she the newest, but Symphony of the Seas is also the largest cruise ship in the world at the moment. She is 362 metres long (that’s just 20 metres shorter than the Empire State Building, and almost 100 metres longer than the Titanic), weighs a staggering 228,000 gross registered tonnes, and has (more than) enough room to comfortably house up to 8800 people. This record breaking ship will cruise around the western Mediterranean from April until October 2018, before heading to the Caribbean and sailing to various ports there next year. So, before she heads off to the Caribbean, I took some time to test her out for you! I travelled from Málaga to Barcelona on board the Symphony of the Seas from 27 to 29 March. Why not check out what I got up to in my time on board? I’m going to bring you through my highlights of my time on board, and give you a little impression of how much a cruise on this ship would cost for you.
Málaga was the first stop, and we boarded on 27 March 2018. There were hundreds of onlookers there waving and cheering as we boarded, snapping pictures of the ship and taking selfies. I can see why – it’s not every day the world’s largest cruise ship turns up in your town! The ship really did tower over the city’s harbour, it was such a breath taking sight.
There is only one word to explain the first time you see this ship – overwhelming. I mean, this ship is pretty huge – it’s about as long as Las Vegas’ Stratosphere Tower is high. But, the real overwhelming feeling comes from stepping on board for the first time. This ship really does take some getting used to. You need to navigate through 18 decks, 24 guest lifts, 20 restaurants, a pool a sports area, a huge spa area, a fitness centre, several boulevards, and even a landscaped park with over 12,000 plants. They do cause a little disorientation and distraction when you first board of course, but exploring them is just so much fun! It took me a few hours to find my bearings, so don’t worry if you feel a little lost too!
The Symphony of The Seas in numbers:
362 metres long
228,000 gross tons
€1 billion Euro cost (£864 million)
Space for 6,680 guests
2.200 international crew members
20 Restaurants with over 300 individual menu options
3 water slides
Together with 2,200 crew members and 6,680 guests, the Symphony of the Seas has space for over 8,000 people. Just like in a city, you can find various “neighbourhoods” on board, which the passengers can explore and enjoy during their cruise. You can spot fellow passengers out on deck for a morning jog, having breakfast in Central Park, surfing on the wave pool, enjoying some relaxation in the spa, eating dinner in one of the 20 on board themed restaurants, playing a few rounds of blackjack in the casino, and having a drink and a dance in the jazz bar. These are only some of the ways you can pass your time on board this record breaking ship – the possibilities really are infinite! How could you be bored! This ship carries the slogan “The New Sound of Adventure”, and it really does fit.
Activities on board the Symphony of the Seas
As is common on cruise ships, a little variety is added with pools and spa areas. But, the pool and spa on board the Symphony of the Seas really is something else. I was just in awe when I walked across the decks. Everywhere you turn there’s something new to discover. It was then I realised that Symphony is less of a cruise ship and more like a floating amusement park. The possibilities for activities are endless, and there really is something for everyone on board.
The heart of the on board activities is the pool and sports zone. There are basketball courts and volleyball courts with stunning sea views, a mini golf course, three amazing water slides, a climbing wall for some action, and two FlowRider surf simulators where you can learn how to surf. Of course, I had to try out everything. I must admit, I was a little queasy about the 25 metre long, 9 deck high Zipline, but the feeling of floating above the ship at this altitude is just incredible. What I really loved were the two pink slides at the rear of the ship. You can slide down these in your normal clothes, and it’s insane how quickly you can glide down! Within 46 seconds, you will have travelled to 10 decks below!
Of course, you’ll have an adrenaline kick after either of these, so it’s normal to just take a little break. So, to get my heart rate back to normal, I took some time out and had a delicious drink by one of the 19 pools. For anyone craving some peace and relaxation, there’s an adults only solarium which I really recommend. There are sun loungers as far as the eye can see, relaxing sofas to sink into, and a number of pools and Jacuzzis that are so inviting. Head for the Vitality at Sea Spa, too, where you can relax, unwind and reset with a huge choice of massages and treatments on offer. If you’re a fitness bunny, then worry not. The largest fitness centre on the high seas can be found on board, so you are in more than good hands here.
Those 6,680 passengers on board need to eat! That’s why the ship has more than 20 restaurants on board, and there are over 300 individual menu options you can try. There’s the finest pasta available from Jamie’s Italian, fresh fish in the seafood restaurant, delicious Japanese specialities in the sushi restaurant, or a Mexican feast. No matter what your appetite or tastes, there really is something for everyone. My personal favourite was the restaurant Wonderland. It’s decor is inspired by one of my favourite stories, Alice in Wonderland. There are some amazing fairy tale dishes served here, which are inspired by the elements – earth, wind, fire, water, ice, and a very special dreams category. I’ll be day dreaming about it for a very long time yet. My mouth still waters thinking about that delicious milk chocolate panna cotta I had for dessert!
Colourful entertainment for every taste
If you thought you were in for an evening’s dinner and then off to bed while on the Symphony, you were sadly mistaken. In fact, as soon as the sun sets the whole ship shines with colourful lighting, and you can experience an amazing variety of entertainment, some of which carry on until well into the night. There are some really amazing options to keep you busy for the night. Check out the acrobatic performances at the ice rink – they really will take your breath away! The Aqua Theatre, which is found at the back of the Megaliner I’ve already told you about, is also well worth catching. The performances here are the perfect way to pass an afternoon. You can see a performance of the Broadway hit show Hairspray one evening, which I promise will have you singing and dancing in the aisles. If that hasn’t impressed your theatre love enough, Royal Caribbean has their own show, Flight, that is also a spectacular. If you are really looking to be wowed though, then go get a drink served by a robot arm at the Bionic Bar. No I’m not kidding. The cocktail itself was delicious of course, but watching your cocktail being shaken by the robotic arm sticking out of the table really is more than a little surreal.
I tried out the casino, too. Somehow, it smells, looks and feels just like a casino in Las Vegas. I tried out the roulette table and blackjack, but I’m still sitting at my desk so you can see it didn’t go too well! I also spent a night on the dance floor, and the board club is the perfect place for night owls to turn night into day time. There are various events with DJs every single night to keep you bopping around. One evening I went to their silent disco, which was as much fun as it always is. It’s so great to be able to dance around whenever you want, and then be able to take off the headphones and chat together if you want, too. If you ask me, the perfect way to end your evening is the sitting in the jazz bar. You can pick up a drink and just relax while listening to the smooth music provided by a live singer.
On this beautiful ship, there are a number of different options for your stay. You can choose from a classic indoor, outdoor and balcony cabin. If you feel like getting really decadent and luxurious, may I recommend a stunning two story loft cabin. If there’s a large group of you, and money isn’t a problem, try the family suite. It’s brand new of course, and among many other amazing luxuries there’s also a slide connecting the nursery directly to the living room below. Just what the kids have always wanted! While the kiddies play about in the playroom, or take advantage of the slide in their living room, you guys can relax with a glass of bubbly in the private Jacuzzi on your balcony. Don’t be worried if this is a little too steep for you. The balcony rooms leave nothing to be desired, too. Depending on the category you choose from, you’ll be offered a view of the sea, the Boardwalk, or Central Park. Each of the spacious rooms has a work desk, a sofa, and a TV. So there’s no worries about your room not being up to standard. Depending on when you travel, how long for, and what cabin you choose, you could take a trip on Symphony of the Seas for about £650 pp!
With such a huge ship, it’s really not hard to think about the environment. But, you really have absolutely nothing to worry about. Michael Bayley, CEO of Royal Caribbean, says Symphony is 25% more energy efficient than her sister ship, the Oasis of the Seas, and uses a lot less fuel. While the ship still uses quite heavy oil, the next two additions to the Icon class (of which Symphony is a part) will be operated with LPG, which significantly reduces the emissions of environmentally harmful substances. As well as that, you can’t actually get a plastic straw while on board Symphony of the Seas. Instead, any time you are asked for a straw you will instead be given a straw made of special paper.
Without question, the Symphony of the Seas is a ship that more than surpasses expectations and sets new standards for cruise travel. My trip on board was utterly unforgettable, and a completely new experience for me. If I’m honest, it was like I was a child again. I felt there was always something new to discover any corner I turned, something new to try out. Sometimes, I even forgot I was on board a cruise ship! Just like you’re supposed to while on holidays, I completely lost all sense of time – but luckily, when you’re at the lifts there are some handy signs reminding you what day of the week it is. Symphony is like a floating theme park, where passengers have fun right around the clock as they’re ferried from one destination to the next. I have to admit, my personal highlights were the robotic bartenders, the three amazing water slides, which were so much fun, and the huge choice of restaurants and food options that were available. On Symphony, there really is the option to enjoy yourself all through the day and well into the night. It’s just so hard to be bored on this wonderful ship. I must say, after my trip from Málaga to Barcelona I truly heard the “sound of adventure” on this ship.
Anyone looking for unforgettable adventures and wanting to immerse themselves in luxury will find exactly what they’re looking for on board the grand Symphony of the Seas. She’s the destination of choice, because of the huge range of activities and entertainment options she offers. But, be aware that she’s only travelling the Mediterranean for a short time – until October 2018. After that, she will return to her home port of Miami and begin her service of several Caribbean cruises. So, if you want to get travelling on board this stunning ship, get your skates!