A SYMPHONY AT SEA

December 14, 2018

by: Brent Ritchie

A buoyant street party, a stroll down Santa Monica Pier, a quiet lunch in a shady park, a wild ride down a huge slide, a Broadway musical, a hip youth hangout, a luxurious massage—seven neighborhoods, one incredible ship.  Royal Caribbean once again redefines the cruise experience with their brand new Symphony of the Seas.  As the world’s largest cruise ship, this floating city of entertainment, restaurants, activities, and excitement proves bigger is better.

The itinerary we sailed alone—Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Marseilles, Florence, Rome, and Naples—is worthy of a separate blog post, but the focus here will be on the Symphony of the Seas and what this incredible, brandspanking new ship has to offer.

The Heart of the Matter

The Royal Promenade. The Corazón, Le Cœur, The Heart.  The life beat of the ship manifests in this impressive central corridor in parades, dance parties, retail therapy, karaoke, and latin dancing.  The people watching is epic, but the restaurants and shops are even more so. Recommendations: a hot slice of Sorrento’s pizza, my preferred late-night snack, and a Coconut Ranger cookie at the Promenade Café.  Plus, check out the bionic robot bar. Yes, they have robot mixologists serving up drinks.

On the Boardwalk

Reminiscent of an old-fashioned seaside boardwalk, like Coney Island or Santa Monica pier, the Boardwalk has a fully functioning, antique merry-go-round.  Hop on for a nostalgic spin on your favorite carousel horse! Grab a tasty hot dog at the Dog House. Hit Johnny Rockets for gourmet hamburgers and fries. Or the try the new concept Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade.  Needing a sweet fix, then stop by Sugar Beach for over 100 kinds of candy and a tempting variety of ice cream, cookies, and cupcakes. The Aqua Theater hosts movie screenings and fabulous game shows by day and thrilling aqua acrobatics and high-diving performances by night.  Because of the unique design of the ship, guests can choose a cabin that faces inward with a balcony overlooking the fun and excitement of the Boardwalk.

Peace and Quiet

Central Park. This revolutionary space sings to those who who need a vacation from their vacation.  Complete with trees, flowers, and quiet pathways with light music playing in the background, this oasis of peace and serenity is the complete opposite of the Royal Promenade with its non-stop activity.  Home to some of the top specialty restaurants—150 Central Park, Chops Grille, Jamie’s Italian by world-renowned chef Jamie Oliver, and Vintages wine bar—it provides the perfect location for meeting friends and relaxing over delicious cuisine.  And speaking of amazing food, the redesigned Park Café which offers indoor/outdoor seating for breakfast and lunch is also found in this neighborhood. For those who prefer a quiet balcony cabin, choosing one overlooking Central Park would be perfect!

Adrenaline Junkies’ Paradise

The Pool and Sports Zone, definitely the most adventurous neighborhood on the ship, sports an array of adrenaline-pumping options.  Tackle the tallest slide at sea, the Ultimate Abyss, towering ten stories above sea level. Note: this is not a water slide. Just hop into your abyss bag and rocket on down through the neon lights.  But don’t worry; there are plenty of highflying waterslides for adventurers of all ages. Ride the Perfect Storm water slides—Cyclone, Supercell, and Typhoon. The adventures are non-stop! Surf or boogie board on the FlowRider.  Zipline across the ship. Hit Spashaway Bay waterpark with the kiddos. Or get in a mean game of miniature golf, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and even dodgeball. After all that, slow it down by taking a leisurely dip in any of the gorgeous pools or working on that tan poolside.

The Show Must Go On

Entertainment Place, with the Royal Theater, Studio B, a Comedy Club and more, lives up to its name.  Catch a thrilling production of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Hairspray and Royal Caribbean’s own theater production called Flight: Dare to Dream.  Both earned two thumbs-up from me for their incredible stage props, music, sound, and lighting in this amazingly advanced Royal Theater.  Studio B is actually an ice rink that hosts a full production show called 1977 which takes the audience back to that era, the story told with amazing sound and video and some of the best ice skaters and dancers to be found from around the world.  When not being used for performances, Studio B becomes an ice skating rink for the guest to enjoy or is transformed into the first ever at-sea, glow-in-the-dark, laser tag adventure—Battle for Planet Z.  

Let’s Hangout

While you’re hitting the gym, getting a massage at the spa, or taking in some fine dining, The Youth Zone has you covered, providing unique activities for toddlers to teens and everything in between.  The award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program is designed to entertain, educate, and inspire the youth onboard with adventurers in science, arts and crafts, theater, sports, and parades that are sure to keep them busy and happy.

Recharging Station

Lastly, the Vitality Spa & Fitness Zone will keep you centered mind, body, and soul.  Keep up your streak of working out or just work off that last piece of pizza from Sorrento’s on Deck 5 in the incredibly large, state-of-the-art gym.  Or pamper yourself with a massage, pedicure, or day in the beauty salon. The Vitality Spa at sea includes a Thermal Suite with heated ceramic loungers, saunas and steam rooms, and over 50 facial and body services offered in different treatment rooms.  After a long day of sightseeing, riding the FlowRider, or ice skating, there is nothing better than a relaxing massage or soak in the hot tub to invigorate and prepare you to go out and do it all over again!

WOW!

The awe-inspiring seven neighborhoods of the Symphony of the Seas have set the new standard for a cruising adventure vessel.  Royal Caribbean knows how to make a ship that can compete with the wonder and excitement of the ports of call.  I dare you to count the number of times you say “Wow!” while onboard. With flawless service, the Symphony of the Seas delivers big time.  Sailing from Royal Caribbean’s brand new Miami port to destinations in the Caribbean, it’s definitely THE premier cruise ship for groups, meetings, and incentive programs at sea.