I recently had the opportunity to experience a cruise aboard the Symphony of the Seas, and it was a voyage to remember.
Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas debuted in 2018. It was the world’s largest cruise ship until its sister ship, Wonder of the Seas, launched.
Symphony of the Seas can host 5,518 passengers in double occupancy, with the potential to reach a maximum capacity of 6,680 passengers, along with a dedicated crew of 2,200 personnel. The ship offers 16 guest decks, an impressive array of 22 restaurants, 4 inviting pools, and 2,759 cabin accommodations.
After seven days on Symphony of the Seas, my only regret is that I wish I had another week to explore everything the massive cruise ship had to offer.
With so much to see and do on this magnificent vessel, it’s no wonder the Symphony of the Seas received a rating of 4.5 out of 5 from Cruise Critic, making it a highly recommended choice for those looking to embark on an unforgettable journey.
Let’s dive into our Symphony of the Seas review.
Table of Contents
Boarding the Symphony of the Seas, an Oasis-class marvel, made me awestruck at its grandeur. The first impressions were undeniably impressive, setting the tone for a memorable cruise experience.
What truly struck me during my time onboard was the remarkable variety of facilities and amenities available to guests. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, Symphony of the Seas has something to offer everyone.
The ship boasts an array of activities, including pools, whirlpools, and water slides, making it an ideal choice for families. For the more adventurous souls, there’s a rock-climbing wall, zip line, and even a full-sized carousel, providing a thrill-seeker’s paradise at sea.
Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Storm water slides offer an exhilarating ride. Perfect Storm includes Typhoon℠ and Cyclone℠, two high-speed racer slides, and Supercell℠, a high-speed slide that finishes with a spin around the circular “bowl” before taking the plunge into a pool.
Entertainment options aboard Symphony of the Seas are nothing short of spectacular.
There’s entertainment for everyone to love, from Broadway-style performances, comedy shows, ice-skating spectacles, and the high-diving AquaTheatre. If you’re in the mood for leisurely pursuits, the casino, shops, art gallery, and Central Park offer a more relaxed pace.
The ship’s impressive 4.6 rating out of 5 on U.S. News Travel is a testament to the widespread enthusiasm among passengers. Symphony of the Seas masterfully balances relaxation and excitement, making it a perfect fit for a diverse range of preferences.
In summary, my time on the Symphony of the Seas was truly exceptional. The ship’s welcoming atmosphere and diverse range of activities and amenities create a vacation experience that is second to none. Whether young or young at heart, make Symphony of the Seas your top choice. It’s an oasis-class ship that promises an unforgettable voyage for passengers of all ages.
Seven Unique Neighborhoods
Symphony of the Seas is divided into seven unique neighborhoods:
- Boardwalk: The Boardwalk neighborhood on Symphony of the Seas offers a lively and diverse entertainment experience. It features the Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade with big-screen TVs, American classics, tabletop games, and the Sugar Beach candy and ice cream shop with DIY activities. Additionally, the neighborhood includes the unique AquaTheater for daytime movie screenings and game shows, nighttime aqua acrobatics, and a full-size hand-carved carousel.
- Pool and Sports Zone: The Pool and Sports Zone offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. Symphony of the Seas is home to four large pools and several whirlpool hot tubs, with plenty of sun loungers for kicking back in the sun. Guests can experience the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, or enjoy thrills on the Perfect Storm waterslides. Splashaway Bay provides a water wonderland for kids, and a signature zip line offers breathtaking views above Central Park. The Solarium, an adults-only retreat, includes a Hooked Seafood restaurant, and there are also FlowRider surf simulators, a miniature golf course, and a sports court for active pursuits.
- Central Park: Central Park is a serene, open-air neighborhood at the ship’s center, featuring over 20,700 live plants and greenery. It’s home to specialty dining venues like 150 Central Park, Chops Grille, Jamie’s Italian, and Vintages wine bar. The redesigned Park Café offers additional indoor/outdoor seating, making it a great spot for socializing and dining amid nature. Central Park is an excellent spot to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the busy cruise ship. There are even sounds of birds playing throughout the park to make you feel more relaxed.
- Royal Promenade: At the ship’s heart, Royal Promenade is a bustling neighborhood filled with parades, theme parties, eateries, retail shops, and bars. Robotic bartenders staff the Bionic Bar, and there’s also the innovative Rising Tide Bar. Dining options include Sorrento’s Pizzeria and Café Promenade, and guests can enjoy entertainment at Boleros, a Latin dance lounge, Copper and Kettle, and On Air Club.
- Entertainment Place: Entertainment Place is a vibrant district that buzzes with life day and night. The Royal Theater hosts headline shows, including Hairspray and Flight: Dare to Dream, while Studio B features ice skating shows and a glow-in-the-dark laser tag adventure called Battle for Planet Z. It’s a hub for late-night dancing and after-hour comedy shows, ensuring non-stop entertainment.
- Youth Zone: The Youth Zone caters to young travelers of all ages with dedicated spaces and activities. From Royal Babies and Tots to Voyagers, each age group has a designated area for fun and learning. Imagination Studio, Adventure Science Lab, Play, and Adventure Ocean Theater offer engaging experiences. Teens have dedicated spaces, like Fuel Disco and The Living Room, with an adjacent outdoor deck for socializing and making new friends.
- Vitality Spa and Fitness: Vitality Spa and Fitness provides a haven for relaxation and wellness. The spa offers a range of treatments, including the Thermal Suite and medi-spa services. There’s also a beauty salon and barbershop. For fitness enthusiasts, the Fitness Center boasts modern equipment and group classes like spinning, Pilates, and yoga, catering to various wellness needs. Tweens and teens have their own Y Spa for tailored services.
Symphony of the Seas offers various cabin categories, including interior staterooms, ocean-view cabins, private balcony cabins, and luxurious suite accommodations.
When I first stepped into my stateroom on the Symphony of the Seas, I was immediately impressed by the comfortable and well-designed space. The cabins on this ship come in various sizes and categories, ranging from cozy interior staterooms to the lavish ultimate family suites.
Every cabin on the ship has interactive TV systems, private bathrooms, and round-the-clock room service. So, whether you’re a couple looking for romance, a family seeking fun, or a solo traveler desiring solitude, the cabins and accommodations on Symphony of the Seas have you covered.
My only disappointment with the cabin was the bathroom amenities.
I’ve always found Royal Caribbean’s bathrooms to be smaller than other cruise ships. I hoped the newer Symphony of the Seas would have slightly larger bathroom and shower amenities, but I was mistaken.
The small bathrooms were nothing more than a minor inconvenience. With so much to do on the cruise ship, I didn’t spend much time in the cabin.
I did, however, appreciate the glass shower door compared to the shower curtain on older vessels.
There was plenty of storage space. With am average closet wardrobe, an in-cabin safe, and a makeup desk with drawers.
We booked a Boardwalk balcony cabin. Unlike a traditional balcony cabin, which faces out towards the ocean, our stateroom faced towards the ship’s interior. Our view of the Boardwalk was spectacular.
While we did enjoy the balcony, we didn’t have the same level of privacy as a traditional ocean-facing balcony stateroom. We could see into other balcony staterooms across the Boardwalk, but the curtains helped with privacy.
Another downside was our cabin location. Our balcony cabin was only two decks below the main pool, which meant that it got a bit noisy on our balcony during the day.
The ultimate family suite is an unforgettable option for families or larger groups. This two-story suite features a slide from the upper level to the living area, a private cinema with a popcorn machine, and a balcony with a hot tub and climbing wall.
If you want a more immersive experience, the Royal Caribbean’s virtual balcony cabins offer real-time ocean views and destinations. It’s an ocean-view cabin at a fraction of the cost.
We had a chance to look at a virtual ocean-view cabin. Despite my hesitations, I found the view to be surprisingly lifelike. The virtual balcony is a good option if you’re sailing on a budget.
With plenty of space for everyone to relax and play, the ultimate family suite is truly a one-of-a-kind accommodation.
Dining and Restaurants
We’ll explore complimentary and specialty options as we delve into the world of dining and restaurants on Symphony of the Seas.
Symphony of the Seas offers ten complimentary restaurants and eleven specialty dining venues.
During our sailing, we tried every complimentary restaurant and many specialty restaurants.
The food on the cruise ship was a highlight, so you will be satisfied whether you stick with the complimentary food options or splurge for an upscale dining choice.
A wide variety of complimentary dining options are available on Symphony of the Seas. Complimentary restaurants on Symphony of the Seas include the following:
- Main Dining Room
- Windjammer Cafe
- Solarium Bistro
- Wide variety of dishes
- Coastal Kitchen
- Park Cafe
- Cafe Promenade
- Dog House
- El Loco Fresh
- Vitality Cafe
During my time on the Symphony of the Seas, I was impressed with the variety of complimentary dining options.
The Main Dining Room is stunning. The three-story restaurant has comfortable seating and a massive chandelier. Each level offers the same service and menu, so it doesn’t matter where you’re located.
Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean changed the main dining room menu. The new menu is smaller, with nightly themes such as French cuisine and Italian.
This was my first time sailing on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship after the main dining room menu change. After several nights of dinner service, I still prefer the previous Main Dining Room menu. Still, the smaller menu wasn’t as limiting as I previously thought.
We chose Royal Caribbean’s My Time Dining, which allowed us to eat on our own time. I made the choice so that we could spend more time in port and have more flexibility dining in the main dining room. But I didn’t expect the 15 to 20-minute wait times for seating.
I’ll stick with set dining times in the future to avoid lineups. The service was top-notch, and the ambiance truly made me feel special.
Another great place to grab a bite was the Windjammer Cafe. This buffet-style eatery offers a wide selection of international dishes and American favorites. The Windjammer was my go-to spot for breakfast and mid-day snacks.
Despite plenty of seating, it’s important to note that the Windjammer Cafe gets very crowded during busy times. I often tried to get breakfast early and eat at off-peak times to avoid waiting in lineups at the buffet stations.
Another standout for me was El Loco Fresh. This Mexican eatery offered a tempting selection of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, all bursting with bold flavors. The restaurant was rarely busy, and service was quick.
I’m surprised that such an amazing restaurant is complimentary.
There’s also a handwashing station outside the buffet to reduce the spread of germs like norovirus.
For a more casual experience, I often visited Park Cafe and the Solarium Bistro. The Park Cafe was perfect for a light lunch or snack, offering sandwiches, salads, and soups. The Solarium Bistro provides many foods in the Windjammer but is much less busy.
The Symphony of the Seas also offers exceptional specialty dining options if you want to splurge. Specialty dining restaurants include:
- Chops Grille
- Jamie’s Italian
- Hooked Seafood
- 150 Central Park
- Vintages Wine Bar
- Johnny Rockets
- Chef’s Table
I was eager to try Hooked, their seafood restaurant, and it did not disappoint. The fish was fresh and flavorful, and the clam chowder was an absolute must-try. It’s located above the Solarium Bistro and provides a nice view of the Solarium.
Wonderland is a must-try experience. The restaurant is inspired by Alice in Wonderland. And the unique decor is accompanied by an equally unique culinary experience. When you sit, you’re greeted by a blank sheet of paper. You actually have to paint the canvas for the menu to appear.
On our final night, we splurged on the Chef’s Table. The intimate and exclusive dining experience offers a five-course meal led by the ship’s Chef de Cuisine. The food was divine, and each dish was expertly paired with a wine, highlighting the plate’s flavor.
Bars and Lounges
One of the highlights of my experience on Symphony of the Seas from Royal Caribbean was the incredible variety of bars and lounges. As I strolled through the Royal Promenade, I was amazed at the number of cool places I encountered.
Each watering hole offers a unique atmosphere and themed drink menus.
We purchased the Dexlux Beverage Package. Despite not drinking enough to make it worth the price, I prefer to purchase the drink package because it allows me to know all my costs before my cruise.
Jazz on 4 is a small yet intimate venue with vintage decor. The acoustics were pitch-perfect, making for a great relaxing spot after a day in the sun. What made it even better was the attentive waitstaff, who ensured my drink was always at hand.
Boleros is a Latin-themed club that sizzled with energy during and after dinner. The live music and salsa dancing made for a lively atmosphere, and it soon became one of my favorite spots to hang out and mingle with fellow passengers. I fell in love with Boleros’ Lime Daiquiri’s.
The Rising Tide is a unique bar that also acts as an elevator. The unique bar is situated in the center of the promenade, where you can sip on champagne cocktails on your flight from Deck 5 to Deck 8.
I was incredibly excited to see the Bionic Bar, made famous for its two robotic bartenders. Upon walking up to the bar, I was greeted by two robotic bartenders mixing and shaking drinks. It’s a bit gimmicky, but I loved watching the bionic bartenders work. There was a spill every once in a while, but the staff quickly cleaned up the mess – the robotic bartenders are better at making drinks than cleaning.
Schooner Bar is a staple on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. The nautical-themed bar, with live piano music, was a great spot to unwind. I missed the Schooner Bar’s ocean views on other classes of Royal Caribbean ships. It’s a minor change but a disappointing feature of Symphony’s Schooner Bar. Instead, there were fake portholes with pictures of the horizon.
Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade is the cruise ship sports bar. Think beers, wings, and TV-lined walls. It’s a great spot to watch live sporting events and meet other sports fanatics.
Apart from these exciting venues, I also spent much time at Dazzles. At this stunning multi-level venue, different live bands lit up the night. It was the perfect place to satisfy my thirst for quality tunes while sipping artfully crafted cocktails.
Ready for some fun? Symphony of the Seas doesn’t disappoint, with many onboard activities to keep everyone entertained. From the moment we step onto the top deck, we’re greeted by the vibrant atmosphere of the ship, full of the sounds of laughter and the buzz of excitement.
The pools and pool deck on Symphony of the Seas are incredible. The cruise ship offers eleven hot tubs and four swimming pools.
Surrounding the pool are thousands of sun loungers. Despite the many seating choices, you’ll still want to go early to grab a spot. By noon, most of the pool-side loungers were taken.
If you want to grab some sun away from the busy pools, you can visit the top deck, which offers even more seating.
Port days are the best time to enjoy the pools with minimal crowds. On sea days, the pool deck becomes incredibly crowded, with thousands of passengers surrounding the ship’s massive pools.
A complimentary self-serve ice cream machine is just a little ways past the pool. I definitely had more than my fair share of chocolate-vanilla twist ice cream cones during my vacation.
We often visited the adults-only Solarium for a bit of quiet and relaxation.
There were a lot of kids on the pool deck, so the Solarium offered us a quiet alternative to soak up the sun. The Solarium offers a private pool, whirlpools, and the Solarium Bistro.
I was pleasantly surprised with the Solarium on Symphony of the Seas. The refreshed aesthetic did away with the exotic theme used on previous ships, instead delivering a brighter and happier atmosphere.
The Solarium has a glass roof but is not fully enclosed, so you’ll still get wet if it rains.
It wasn’t until the fifth day of my cruise that I found two little wings extending from the port and starboard sides of the Solarium. The wings offered an incredible viewing platform just one deck above the bridge.
The platforms were great for capturing sunset and sunrise photos.
For families, Symphony of the Seas offers numerous activities catering to younger passengers. The kids have a blast at Splashaway Bay, a vibrant water park filled with slides, fountains, and pools. It’s a haven for the young ones to splash and play to their heart’s content.
I was most excited to try Royal Caribbean’s Flow Rider surfing simulator. Although I’ve sailed on several Royal Caribbean cruise ships, this was the first time I got to try the surf simulator. I waited until Day three to build up the courage, but I was quickly hooked.
I visited the Flow Rider every day for the rest of my cruise.
The sports deck also has a mini-golf, a basketball court, zip lining, and the Ultimate Abyss dry slide.
One of my favorite experiences on Symphony of the Seas was the zip line, which rises 11 decks above the Boardwalk. I got the chance to face my fears and soar through the air on this adrenaline-pumping activity, soaking in breathtaking ocean views.
The Abyss is another incredible, adrenaline-pumping activity. The 10-story dry slide took me on a thrilling journey through a dark tunnel and back into the ship’s heart.
You can use Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean Kids Club if you sail with kids. The Kid’s Club is staffed by experts who care for your child as you explore the ship or spend the day in port.
One exciting activity I tried was the Battle for Planet Z, a thrilling laser tag experience. As someone who loves a bit of friendly competition, I enjoyed dodging behind barriers and strategizing with my teammates in this glow-in-the-dark, space-themed arena.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed activity, traditional cruise ship fun like mini-golf, the Royal Casino, shuffleboard, and ping pong.
On my recent Symphony of the Seas cruise, I was delighted by the various entertainment options available. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships revolutionized cruise ship entertainment.
I was most excited to see One of the highlights was the jaw-dropping performances in the Aqua Theatre. The aft theater is home to a transformative pool that features high diving, aerobatics, and more.
I made sure to book tickets to the complimentary show early. As it sells out quickly.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
Hiro was the Aquatheatre’s show during our sailing. And it was simply extraordinary.
The show was more Cirque du Soliel than Broadway entertainment, with breathtaking performances and gravity-defying stunts.
I also watched the Tony Award-winning musical, Hairspray in the 1,400-seat Royal Theater.
Another astonishing show I watched was Flight: Dare to Dream. This innovative theatrical production took me on a journey through the history and future of human flight. The combination of ambitious stage design, impressive special effects, and a captivating storyline kept me engaged from start to finish.
I spent some of my evenings in the Entertainment Place, which houses various venues such as a comedy club, a jazz club, and a live music venue. It was nice to have a choice of entertainment styles to suit my mood, whether I wanted to relax with some jazz tunes or laugh with the brilliant comedians.
There’s also a real ice rink on the cruise ship. And there were two ice dance shows during our sailing.
As a family vacation, the DreamWorks Experience offered a delightful opportunity to meet and interact with beloved characters from DreamWorks films like Shrek and Madagascar.
Onboard Services and Amenities
When I first stepped onto Symphony of the Seas, I instantly noticed the friendly and attentive staff. As I explored the ship, this impression was only solidified, as crew members were always available to assist me and ensure a pleasant experience.
I was pleased to find Royal Caribbean’s WiFi on Symphony of the Seas was relatively fast, thanks to the Starlink Internet Service. I had no issues sending emails or sharing my adventures on social media. I could even stream movies from Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime.
The many amenities offered on the ship undoubtedly added to my overall enjoyment. Some of my personal favorites include:
- The adult-only Solarium offers the perfect atmosphere for relaxation and tranquility.
- The Vitality Spa offers a range of massages, facials, and other treatments that leave me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I got the hot stone massage on a sea day and never felt more relaxed.
- The fitness facilities were surprisingly well-equipped with free weights, machines, and cardio equipment. You can participate in group classes, work out at the gym, or take a leisurely stroll on the outdoor jogging track. The gym was comparable to a regular fitness center, allowing me to work off the buffet.
We ordered Royal Caribbean’s breakfast room service on the fourth day of the cruise. The food arrived fast and was still hot. I enjoyed eating breakfast on the balcony but opted for the Windjammer throughout the cruise because of the better food selection.
Embarkation and Debarkation
Embarking on the Symphony of the Seas cruise was remarkably smooth and efficient, considering the sheer number of passengers preparing to embark simultaneously. The staff’s organization was impeccable considering the logistic challenge of debarking the previous sailing’s passengers and the more than 6,000 excited passengers ready to embark.
Despite the long line, we were on the ship less than an hour from arriving at the cruise terminal. Royal Caribbean’s staff maintained a cheerful and helpful attitude that set the tone for a fun-filled cruise vacation.
The moment we stepped onto the ship, we were greeted with smiles and enthusiastic “welcome aboard” wishes, setting the tone for an incredible cruise experience.
Debarkation at the end of the cruise was equally impressive.
Despite the sad reality of the journey coming to an end, the process was incredibly smooth. Our luggage had been collected the night before and was ready for us in the terminal. Customs and immigration clearance was efficient, with well-organized lines and friendly officials.
Overall, the embarkation and debarkation processes on the Symphony of the Seas showcased the cruise line’s commitment to ensuring a hassle-free and enjoyable experience for its passengers, even with many guests onboard.
In wrapping up, it’s clear this ship offers an unparalleled cruise experience with its diverse amenities and endless activities. Symphony of the Seas, one of the biggest cruise ships, is a Caribbean ship that’s truly a marvel of modern engineering.
Our final thoughts?
It’s a floating city of luxury. Symphony of the Seas is an excellent choice for families, young couples, and older adults. There’s something special for everyone to enjoy.