We had never sailed Oasis class before and the thought that keeps popping into my head is how we never (really, not even once) felt crowded on this ship with over 8500 people (including crew) aboard. Just amazing! . @WannaCruise asked about comparing this class to Voyager Class. We have been on Explorer once and Adventure twice (once after the revitalization). When we went on Anthem (Quantum Class) we liked it, but actually missed Voyager Class. That class did feel crowded at times (not horrible, but noticeable).
There were some things we liked better on Adventure such as the bridge spanning the top of the Promenade, providing a much larger stage for things like the 70's (80's show on Symphony) and the Imperial Lounge for the game and trivia shows (already talked about how bad the On Air Venue is on Symphony). I still love Voyager Class (booked for 12 nighter next May) but Symphony is just downright dazzling. Between the entertainment, the art, the neighborhoods, the dining venues, pools, etc. etc.I'd question the ability of anyone to NOT have a great time. This does, however, come with a price. Some of the Oasis class sailings I looked at for the future were equal to or just a little less for a 7 night sailing than we paid for our 12 night sailing on Adventure. Did we love Symphony? Absolutely. Would we sail Oasis class again? Absolutely. But Voyager class was our first love and we're very happy to be sailing Adventure again.
One of the biggest differences between the classes is the entertainment. Symphony wins that hands down. The number of shows, the types of shows and the talent of the performers is the best we've seen on any cruise. RCL entertainment in general is great, but they truly outdid themselves with this cast of performers. Suggestion: make your reservations on cruise planner as soon as they become available. Standby lines for the shows were all very long. Same thing if you want bungalows, beach beds or clamshell loungers on CocoCay. They don't have a lot of them and they sell out quickly. aaaah, Cococay...what a magnificent job they did (are are still doing) there. Phenomenal.
Service in every area earned get the 10 ratings we will give on the survey. Cabin steward was outstanding, never saw or spoke to any staff member that was not smiling, enthusiastic and helpful. MDR waiter was the nicest young man but was very new at this and his nervousness showed at times. Assistant waitress and Head waitress more than made up for it. As stated earlier, would not do Wonderland again. However, I wish they'd open a 150 Central Park near me. THAT was the best dinner of the week. The best meal of the week was the debarkation breakfast provided with the Key. OMG! (scroll up a few posts).
Which brings me to the KEY. We did get it at the $19.99pp/pd price and was worth every penny to us. Priority embarkation was really nice, and they did walk us through saving time on line. But the whole process in the new Miami Terminal A is so easy anyway that not having it wouldn't be a deal breaker. Boarding at 11, dropping off the carry on luggage and having it delivered to the room before the 1PM ready time is a winning idea. Loved not having to keep it with us for 2 hours or having to drag them into Chops for the included and delicious embarkation day lunch. VOOM, priority seating at shows---all good. They nailed the priority debarkation. After finishing the breakfast they sent up an escort to take us all way from the dining room, off the ship and through the terminal right to our waiting luggage. Now (drum roll, please) the best perk is not even listed in the Key description, so take note if you buy it....you never have to scan your seapass card when taking as many pool towels as you like. Seapass card has a Key sticker on it. Just show the attendant, take your towels and walk away. Especially when returning to the ship from a port, not having to wait in line for them to scan your card for returning the towels is a blessing. Free milkshakes at Johnny Rockets..woohoo. No purchase necessary. Sit there and enjoy it or take it out. Funny part is, they didn't scan our card. Probably could have gone back for more, but we didn't. So, thumbs up for the Key. However, if next year's is more expensive and multiply by 12 days, we'll have a really tough decision to make.
Cruise Director and Activities Manager---backstory: Although Anthem was not our favorite ship, the CD we had there was the best ever--Abe Hughes That man was a bundle of energy like none before or after. He was visible just about 24/7 and all over the ship. ...don't think he ever slept. He was quick witted and unbelievably nice. His AM Chris Hopkins was almost as good as Abe. I keep saying "was" because Abe is no longer CDing (is that a word?). He and wife had their first child and he did not want to be away from home for such long periods of time. He's still with RCL in a sales capacity. I wish him the best. And poor Chris-after filling in as CD on other ships, apparently Royal didn't have a permanent CD position for him so he left. Personally I think Royal "missed the boat" by letting him go. OK, so I digressed a little---Symphony CD Mike was great. One of the best Quests we ever saw, very funny Love and Marriage game, and in his words, the best belly flop contest since 2001. He is a very funny man (and a magician also) and is obviously one of the better CDs. We only saw him once walking around, but I think there are two reasons for that. One would be the sheer size of the ship. He may well have been out and about and just not where we were at the time. Also, when I did see him we spoke for about 10 minutes and one of the things he mentioned was how more administrative work there is that has to get done. Plus, and this is just me talking...Captain Rick had boarded the ship the same day we did...This was his first day on Symphony. So I'm sure Mike had spend a fair amount of time with him. AM Katy is bubbly, personable and did a great job at all the activities she participated in.
If I left anything out you like to hear about just ask...no guarantee I'll remember, but ask anyway.
And my last thought of the day...I gained 6 lbs and DW, believe it or not, gained only 3 (at least that's what she told me!). Hopefully we'll be back where started soon.
Well, I guess it's now time to go feel sorry for myself and live vicariously through other live blogs. Thanks for following and happy sailing!