Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Symphony of the Seas - Cruising '19

Symphony of the Seas in port - Roatan, Honduras

"When Royal Caribbean's gargantuan and game-changing Oasis-Class ships debuted as the then world's largest ship in 2009, people wondered if anyone would bother to get off the ship in port, as it could take a week to try out all the onboard activities." (Cruise Critic) 

The basics from my cruise last week: Symphony of the Seas is 1,184.42 ft. (almost one-quarter mile) long. It is the largest cruise ship in the world. It can handle 6,680 passengers, as well as a 2,200-person crew. There are 16 decks for guest use (18 total), 22 restaurants, 24 pools, and 2,759 cabins. I traveled out of Miami and my Western Caribbean destinations included Roatán, Honduras; Costa Maya, Mexico; Cozumel, Mexico; and Coco Cay, Bahamas. More coming on all the ports.

Solarium glass front pool
On my "world's largest cruise ship" escape, there was no way to be bored, given its variety of on-ship activities and attractions. There are seven themed "neighborhoods" plus the "Pool and Sports Zone". On the ship's upper decks there are 24 pools including a glass front whirlpool found in the glass covered, adults-only, Solarium area.

Symphony has three multistory water slides, along with the Ultimate Abyss, a side-by-side pair of the tallest dry slides at sea that plummet 10 stories (decks). The ultimate in water fun is the ship's two "FlowRider" surf simulation pools for stand up surfing and boogie-boarding. If you're not up for public humiliation, grab a drink, find a bleacher seat and enjoy the wipeouts in shaded comfort. Symphony also sports a zipline above Central Park, two rock climbing walls and a sports deck for basketball (full size), volleyball, soccer, Ping-Pong and mini-golf.

The deep AquaTheater pool/theater (technically part of the Boardwalk neighborhood) does double duty as a venue for scuba lessons and a stage for whimsical performances that feature acrobats, high wire walkers, and divers jumping from two 55 ft. platforms. There is an ice-skating rink which hosts two outstanding shows, including micro drones that open the show with an aerial ballet. The ice-skating rink is open during the day for free skating.  

Multiple daily lectures occur in the “Royal Theater” which seats over 1400 (18437 sq. ft.) where two major attraction are hosted on multiple nights.  Hairspray! The Broadway Musical and Flight - Dare to Dream were shown my week.  

Central Park
There is also an open-air “Central Park” which contains over 20,000 tropical plants. More restaurants are found there: Chops, a steak restaurant; Jamie's Italian, from British Chef Jamie Oliver; 150 Central Park, with a seasonal "farm to ship" menu designed by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz; Zumi Hibachi and Sushi. Also my favorite sandwich/cookie/tea stop, the "Park Cafe" is there. Also one of the paths through Central park leads to an elegant wine bar.   

For shopping and imbibing, the Royal Promenade (Deck 5, amidships) is sized like a real mall and runs the length of a football field. High end duty free shops abound; Regalia Watches, Bvlgari, Cartier... There is the Rising Tide Bar (which slowly travels up and down three decks between the Royal Promenade and Central Park). Tucked in one corner is the futuristic Bionic Bar with drinks prepared by robot bartenders. The Promenade also hosts activities like flash-mob dances, (80’s Night) and parades with characters in colorful costumes, and music.  

Pop-Art On the Promenade 
All-Day Dining: You can't go hungry, what with 22-plus dining options. Beyond lunch in the Windjammer Marketplace buffet and the "Main" tri-level dining room, passengers can find midday eats at Sorrento's pizzeria; the Park Cafe, serving up salads and sandwiches; the Boardwalk Dog House with its seven varieties of wieners; Mini Bites for sliders and other grab-and-go snacks served near the pools; the Vitality Cafe or Solarium Bistro for yogurt parfaits, healthy sandwiches, salads and other light fare; Johnny Rockets, a fast-food burger joint; Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar for Mexican; and the Cafe Promenade for snacks and sandwiches. And don't forget all the empty calories you can consume with midday cravings; doughnuts, cupcakes and soft serve ice cream on the pool deck.

I am sorry this got so long and I have only touched on a few of the many amenities.  Needless to say, I was entertained for the total 8 day and seven nights. I will write more over the next few days about the destinations, outfit choices, my level of comfort, tips and some of the wonderful people I met. Nothing negative occurred from interaction with dinner mates, meal staff, ship's personnel or during off-ship excursions.  

A super, wonderful ESCAPE.  

Symphony of the Seas in the background
Coco Cay, Bahamas

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