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As someone who loves to travel, the idea of being “trapped” on a ship was something that I always avoided. I was not sure if I liked the idea of not being able to plan my own itinerary, and to only visit each island/location for a few hours. This year, I put that aside and went on my first cruise onboard the Symphony of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas, which debuted earlier this year, is the largest cruise ship in the world to set sail. It has an impressive total capacity of 6,680 guests, with 2,759 staterooms, 18 decks, 25 pools, and 2,200 international crewmembers.
When you arrive, you are instantly amazed by the sheer size of the ship. Another cruise left while we were still embarking, and the Symphony of the Seas totally dwarfed the other ship. With so many people onboard, I was worried that it would be super crowded and that there would be people everywhere. However, despite the number of guests, the ship is so vast that it didn’t feel crowded at all and at times there were spots that were completely empty. You can definitely find lots of quiet spots if you were looking for it. Teraj often gets motion sickness, but because the ship is so enormous, we often forgot it was actually moving!
What to pack? So… I’d only seen pictures from the gay Atlantis cruises where the attire is very minimalistic. I originally only packed for beach summer weather, but later found out that during most evenings, the dinners are a bit more formal (elegant business casual) – so I went shopping in Miami. J All this to say you may want to check if there are any formal evenings or restaurants. Make sure you pack for the sun and day excursions, but also bring some workout clothes if you plan to make use of the fitness center to work off all the great food!!
The Symphony of the Seas offers an amazing array of activities, shows, restaurants, shops, and bars that will delight guests of all ages. Here are some of the coolest things you need to know about the ship:
Boardwalk – open-air plan zone where you will find the handcrafted carousel, a Johnny Rockers diner, Sugar Beach candy and ice cream shop, and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade. This is also the home of the AquaTheater, where the outdoor aqua show, HiRo, is a must see!
Pool and Sports Zone – located at the top of the ship, it is home to five types of pools and a line-up of the most active adventures, including the Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea.
Entertainment Place – this is where you will find the Royal Theater and Studio B. You can even take part in a glow-in-the-dark laser tag adventure called Battle for Planet Z.
Vitality Spa and Fitness Center – where you can rejuvenate yourself, and enjoy the fully equipped gym and running track.
On ship Lively Entertainment – Royal Caribbean has taken entertainment to the next level with a variety of shows, including “Flight: Dare to Dream” – a one of a kind journey through the past, present, and future of air travel and space exploration. Hairspray, the Broadway production, can also be found onboard at the Royal Theatre.
Dining – with more than 20 restaurants, there is a little bit of everything, from the new Hooked Seafood restaurant with fresh, New England-style favourites, to made-to-order Mexican “street fare” at El Loco Fresh.
Bars – there are 42 bars and lounges on the Symphony of the Seas. One of the coolest is the Bionic Bar – a bar with two robot bartenders, who makes drinks to order with a combination of 30 spirits and 21 mixers. One of the liveliest bars in the evening is the “On Air” karaoke bar, where you can partake and show off your singing skills or just sit back and watch.
Slides – aside from the Ultimate Abyss, a 10-story test of courage, making it the tallest slide at sea, there are also two “FlowRider” surf simulators, where adventurers can surf up a storm.
My first cruise experience exceeded my expectations, and I would definitely go on another! I think the key is to keep in mind that cruises are perfect for stress free travel where you can relax and not have to worry about trip planning. It is not the type of trip where you will be at each location immersed in the culture for days – it’s more of an in and out sort of thing. For example, we docked at The Bahamas for around 5 hours. The destinations are not necessarily the highlight of the trip, but rather the journey. I think it is perfect for group and family trips because everyone can do their own thing; yet, you can plan to meet up for meals and day trips. It is also perfect if you just want a simple getaway, and to get a taste of the Caribbean islands.
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