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WannaCruise

Symphony Review - WOW!

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This isn't a live blog or a full day to day review, but we just got back from Symphony and thought I'd post a few thoughts.

Background

This cruise was my 6th Royal cruise, DH's 5th and our kids 3rd Royal cruise (with one Disney cruise as well).

Our kids are 13 and 9.

Itinerary

  • Day 1 - Departs from Miami
  • Day 2 - Sea Day
  • Day 3 - Roatan
  • Day 4 - Costa Maya
  • Day 5 - Cozumel
  • Day 6 - Sea Day
  • Day 7 - Nassau

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Stateroom

We usually stay in an interior (most often it's a promenade room so we can at least have a window to the inside) and have also stayed in a balcony room before.  Balcony rooms are our preference, but rooms get exponentially more  expensive as you go up in category so it depends on the sailing what we book (as we need to fly to port.....and these days we are sailing 2x a year).

For this sailing, we booked a Boardwalk Balcony.

The inside is standard, although having 3 suitcases (lol), it was challenging to figure out the best way to organize our cloths.  But the room does have 2 closets with one of them having built in shelves.  There are also 4 nice size drawers on the side of the desk plus another narrow one.  There is also a good amount of room under the bed to store luggage.  The washroom has a few shelves and room underneath the sink to store things.  The shower is also a big larger than the older ship showers.

What I loved best about this room is the view.  For ocean lovers, you can see the water and land behind it, but it is further out than a standard ocean balcony room.  The balcony is lots of fun though as you can see what's going on on the Boardwalk.  They played movies which we could see from our room (and hear the songs if a musical, which was nice), and we even got a sneak peak of HIRO (the Aqua show). It's just a fun room.  My DD and I were out there whenever we got a chance.  DH, who much prefers ocean view rooms wasn't out there as much (and our son is TV obsessed, so when we were in the room, he'd turn on the tv).

Also, we had no issues of privacy.  You can't really see into the rooms, and we just closed the curtains when changing just in case.  Not a big deal at all.  If we were on our balcony, then didn't really care if someone could see us.

The room came with some perks:

  1. Soda package for 2 .... DH loves soda.  Sometimes we'd go back to the room to grab the cup for the machines, but otherwise, he'd just order from the bar or in the MDR.  I only used it a couple times as I don't drink pop, but would try flavored water when I had the cup on me.
  2. Johnny Rockets lunch for 4 ... We had planned on using this, but we found there was so much food on the ship, and we were full most of the time, that we honestly didn't feel like a greasy heavy meal of burgers.  So, we never even used this perk.
  3. Private (?) rock wall session ... Not even sure how this worked.  Our kids went on the rock wall a couple times but the lines weren't bad so didn't even have a need for this.

So the only perk that really benefited us (or DH) was the soda package.

As for noise, you could hear muffled noise when the balcony door was close.  But we were all so tired by end of day that it didn't prevent us from sleeping.  I always have ear plugs myself and with them, the noise was completely gone.

So in summary...DD and I loved this room, DH was ok, and DS is indifferent.  I would totally book it again.

PS - I'm at work now, but when home, I will post some pictures.

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Here are a few pictures of our room inside.  Before we cruised, I found it hard to find a picture of the sofa bed pulled out so thought I'd share with others.

Room when you enter

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Sofa bed at night (more of a single bed with a trundle pulled out).  Our kids loved this as they each got their own space.1927350851_IMG_1670(Small).jpeg.4fb334e21a92d3cf59c430e2b91cf0ba.jpeg

Going forward for the rest of the cruise, the sofa made up during the day1731781368_IMG_1706(Small).jpeg.e8c115d7f8d29d2e7b6f3324740a5cb2.jpeg

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24 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

@WannaCruise, can you tell ahead of time that the sofa turns into a trundle?  Is that usually marked on the deck plans?  I have never noticed that before when looking at them.

No...that's the thing.  It's labelled as a "double sofa bed".  Apparently this is how they are configured on Harmony and Symphony.  From my searching before we left, I saw no pictures of it on Symphony and saw one example on Harmony.  So now have proof. 😉

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4 minutes ago, WannaCruise said:

No...that's the thing.  It's labelled as a "double sofa bed".  Apparently this is how they are configured on Harmony and Symphony.  From my searching before we left, I saw no pictures of it on Symphony and saw one example on Harmony.  So now have proof. 😉

But not all the sofa beds are like that on HM and SY, or are they?

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25 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

But not all the sofa beds are like that on HM and SY, or are they?

Wondering too...but I've heard people mention that for those two ships.  There is nothing specific on the deck plan for ours except for the usual triangle.  Would be nice if they indicated the trundle's with a different marker (or worded it as such in the description)

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The Promenade

We were recently on Mariner and Independence and so the first thing I noticed about the Promenade is how wide it is on Symphony.  It's just so much bigger with space to walk (but of course it does get crowded).  

Here's a picture (and you can see them ready for the balloon drop for night 1)

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And of course, another big difference is the choice of car.  I never understood the meaning or why they selected this, but it sure is unique. I'll give them that!

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This is quite cute.

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A view of the big statue in the middle (and a "few" people with it)

Note:  The balls behind, where it says "wish" are large crystal balls that go from the gound level, all up the top of the elevators (in open area).  It's really beautiful, and various balls have positive sayings such as 'wish', 'believe', etc.

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The promenade houses Cafe Promenade for small snacks, Sorrentos, Starbucks for caffeine fix.  It also has the Bionic Bar, which is really fun to watch and order drinks.

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One really fun piece of art work is at the bottom of the stairs when you go from the promenade down to deck 4 to theatre/Attic/Studio B

Anyone hungry for a treat?

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Food

Food is subjective...but here are our thoughts.  Overall we thought food was excellent on Symphony.  For the most part, we stuck with the same few places as we really enjoyed them.

  • Windjammer

Very good breakfast with tons of variety.  Sometimes it wasn't busy at all and other times it was busy (last breakfast).  But we would just first grab a seat and then go and get food in twos.  I like how they have people coming around offering you drinks as that makes it easier rather than running back another time to get a coffee or juice. We really enjoyed breakfast here.

We only stopped here for lunch once, and that was mostly just DS and the rest of us grabbed food from El Loco Fresh next door.  I'll say that I'm not a huge fan of Windjammer for lunch as I'm a sandwich person and it's mostly hot items, but the one on Symphony looked pretty good with tons of options.  I even took a few sides to add to my El Loco Fresh meal.  

After our Costa Maya day, we stopped in for a snack (which was lunch hours).  Again, great variety of desserts and all pretty good.

  • Solarium Bistro

We would rotate breakfast with here and Windjammer.  On Allure, the Solarium was more obvious of offering healthier choices, but I think on Symphony it was the same food items.  The atmosphere is nice though...esp if you can get a seat by that beautiful statue.  They have some outdoor seating but I'm pretty sure that is the adults only section.  Again, pastries, eggs, various yogurts, cereals, oatmeal, fruits, pancakes, waffles, sausages, bacon, cheese, lox, non greasy muffins, various potatoes and hash browns, etc etc.

  • MDR

Great experience at the MDR.  We had lunch here twice on the sea days.  Love the Tutti salad bar.  You can add in the items that you want and then the dressing.  Really good and healthy (or not healthy depending on what you add).  Then they have a good size buffet.  One thing I'm surprised with is that Royal offers burgers at the buffets but no veggie burgers.  But at the MDR buffet, they had fish burgers which was nice to see.

For dinner, first I"ll start with our servers.  Our waiter and assistant waiter were lovely. Attentive, friendly, did a couple magic tricks with our kids to keep them entertained.  And they went at a good speed.  On Mariner, we had traditional dining with 2 other families.  Meals were great but dinner went from 6-8pm.  Nice to talk with the families but they were a bit long. We had traditional dining here, and maybe it went quicker since were at a table with just us, but our dinners started at 5:30pm (wish it was 6pm) and we were usually done by 7pm or 7:15pm...so a pretty good pace.

For the food, it was very good.  Most days I had the caesar salad and escargot as an appetizer.  Yum.  The salad was much tastier than Mariner (guess more dressing).  My DD had French Onion soup every night. She loved that.  DH varied his appetizer.  And DS realized that if he had an appetizer and bread that he got too full for dessert.  So he then made a plan to skip appetizers so he could eat his whole dessert.  Smart boy!  The best meals were the pasta meals and risotto (and I"m not a rice eater).  Lobster night was also really good.  DH had the famous lamb shank. He said it was good for the MDR but he's had better. Overall though, really good experience.  

PS - We brought our own wine and were never charged a corkage fee.

  • El Loco Fresh

Wasn't expecting much but the plain cheese quesadilla was excellent.  Was a bit disappointed that they only had meat enchiladas (as I eat fish and seafood but not beef or chicken), but I didn't go hungry.  They also had an amazing chocolate dulce de leche.

  • Cafe Promenade/Sorrentos

We went here first day and I think another day or so for snacks, meal.  Pretty standard for Royal but good idea for light bite.  DH tried the pizza and said it was a big improvement over Allure a few years ago.  My only regret is that when I went, they had no coconut ranger cookies.  Boo...I missed these. (Apparently it was bad timing as DH said he saw them on other days)

  • Park Cafe

This is my one miss.  One one day we walked though it but nothing appealed to my 9 year old so we left.  I thought of getting something to go but wasn't sure where we'd end up so didn't take anything (and since we went to MDR, that wouldn't have worked anyways).  Loved it on Allure so was sorry we never actually ate here.  It looked good though.

  • Jamie's

First time trying this restaurant and as pleasantly surprised.  It was really good.  We shared a bunch of appetizers...rice balls, garlic bread, crab bruschetta, olives.

For meal, DD had the spaghetti. She didn't eat much as she didn't love it.  You can't really mess up spaghetti, but she's not one to like sauce.  

DS had the burger that was really good.

DH and I shared two meals...the salmon, which was really well done, and the truffle pasta that was exellent.

Dessert was really good.  Decadent brownies for the kids.  Pavlova for DH, which he said was really good.  And I had the lemon cheesecake.  yum!

  • Chops

This is the restaurant we were most looking forward to, and the one we were most disappointed about.  It was amazing on Mariner, and on Symphony, the food was more bland.  Not sure if this was due to place being quite busy, or just different chefs.  DH, DD and DS all had the steak, and DH had to add salt/pepper to it, which isn't right.  My shrimp was good, but not as tasty on Mariner.  Dessert though was really good, and they had the red velvet cake which DH was happy about.

Will post a bunch of food pictures shortly.

 

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MDR Desserts

Kid's Chocolate Chip Cookies (they look plain, but are actually very good)

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Cheesecake

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Chocolate Profiteroles (DS's favorite dessert)

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I forget the name but DS loved this one too

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Creme Brulee

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Warm Donuts

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Royal Chocolate Cake

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Warm Chocolate Cake (Chop's version was much better)

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23 hours ago, WannaCruise said:

Stateroom

For this sailing, we booked a Boardwalk Balcony.

Your Boardwalk balcony really looks like a perfect location.  Your view was absolutely stunning!  Which room # is it?  We have really thought about trying a boardwalk balcony.  Also did you hear the "dings" of the carousel inside your room by chance?  We have always wondered that even though we don't spend lots of time in our room during the day usually.

Your pics are getting me so excited about my Symphony cruise at the end of this April!  Your family sure had a very amazing time!  I'm so happy for all of you!

Michelle

 

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Thank you for this review. Were doing this exact itinerary in 2 days on March 22 and also have a 2 connecting Boardwalk rooms. Glad to hear privacy wasn't an issue. Question: how was the noise level?

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One more question for you or anyone else for that matter. When we were on Oasis of the Seas last year, the Windjammer Café has people seat you and find a table for you, instead of it being a free for all. It was  an improvement from 2 yrs ago on Harmony, where it was  free for all trying to find a place to sit. Does Symphony staff seat you at a table in the Windjammer or not? Thanks, much

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1 hour ago, Cruising to Retirement! said:

For this sailing, we booked a Boardwalk Balcony.

Your Boardwalk balcony really looks like a perfect location.  Your view was absolutely stunning!  Which room # is it?  We have really thought about trying a boardwalk balcony.  Also did you hear the "dings" of the carousel inside your room by chance?  We have always wondered that even though we don't spend lots of time in our room during the day usually.

Your pics are getting me so excited about my Symphony cruise at the end of this April!  Your family sure had a very amazing time!  I'm so happy for all of you!

We were in 10307....so half way from top to bottom and half way from elevators to aft.  Loved the location.  Our kids said I should have picked far aft, but I went central for fear of getting too close to the aqua theatre noise. I didn't notice the carousel dings when inside the room, but we really didn't spend much time in there during the day (and it only runs certain hours so don't think it ran late at night).  On the balcony I think you could hear, but you want to hear the action. 🙂

Happy to hear I'm helping with your excitement.  Symphony is amazing...my kids and my new favorite ship (DH prefers a bit smaller such as Mariner but still quite enjoyed).  Thanks so much for your kind words.

 

39 minutes ago, Srp431 said:

Thank you for this review. Were doing this exact itinerary in 2 days on March 22 and also have a 2 connecting Boardwalk rooms. Glad to hear privacy wasn't an issue. Question: how was the noise level?

We loved the itinerary, especially Roatan.  Two connecting rooms would be even better for space.  At night we did hear muffled noise, but it didn't bother us.  I recommend bringing ear plugs though as this drowned out the sound.

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30 minutes ago, Srp431 said:

One more question for you or anyone else for that matter. When we were on Oasis of the Seas last year, the Windjammer Café has people seat you and find a table for you, instead of it being a free for all. It was  an improvement from 2 yrs ago on Harmony, where it was  free for all trying to find a place to sit. Does Symphony staff seat you at a table in the Windjammer or not? Thanks, much

Really?  ..Never had that in the Windjammer (even on Allure or others).  On Symphony, you go in and find your own table.  We never went for dinner though so can't confirm for that meal.

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42 minutes ago, Srp431 said:

Windjammer Café has people seat you and find a table for you, instead of it being a free for all.

I was also on this same symphony sailing, I did see the hostess bringing groups to tables during one of the sea day lunches, so it may just depend how crazy they are expecting it to be.

 

Great summary @WannaCruise! Makes me miss it even more. The come down when you get home is so hard.

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10 minutes ago, elizbit said:

I was also on this same symphony sailing, I did see the hostess bringing groups to tables during one of the sea day lunches, so it may just depend how crazy they are expecting it to be.

 

Great summary @WannaCruise! Makes me miss it even more. The come down when you get home is so hard.

Interesting.  Guess it depends on when you went then and crowds as you say.  Amazing cruise and ship isnt it?  And we really lucked out with the weather, despite one windy day which closed top deck. I know...it's the best feeling when you walk on, but the worst feeling when you walk off.  

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Activities
There is so much to do on Symphony from the activities to scheduled items in the cruise compass.  I guess the only complaint if any, is that you have to prepare yourself accordingly as there are rules for going on things.

  • Zipline - secure shoes such as runners with laces, no jewelry (e.g. must remove watch), glasses need strap (which they provide, or you can use your own)
  • Abyss - tshirts or long sleeves required, no loose items, glasses must be tucked into shirt
  • Laser Tag - closed shoes and no bags, or loose items
  • Water slides - no glasses
  • Rock wall - socks, they give you shoes

For each...

Zipline
SO much fun.  It's not long as it just goes across the Boardwalk but tons of fun.  They have someone catching you at the other end (thank goodness as I have no idea how to stop yourself otherwise)

Abyss

This was my favorite. You take the elevator up to deck 16 and then walk to the back of the ship.  You are given a mat that you lay down and put your feet inside the pocket.  Your arms must be straight holding on the to strap with palms up.  They'll tell you when to go and you shimmy yourself to start moving.  You lie back and whee! 

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There are lights and train sounds and you end up on the boardwalk.  We went multiple times.

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Laser Tag 

No pictures as I would leave my belongings (which includes my camera) but the laser tag is held at Studio B.  You can make a reservation when you board on day 1 and the remaining times you can do stand by.  Sometimes stand by wasn't bad and other times it was a longer line (e..g we tried when it opened up after our Costa Maya day at 3pm...but many others had the same idea).  It's tons of fun though.  You get the equipment on, and then are assigned 2 teams and then play a game.  You can usually actually see the laser beams which is neat.  

Water Slides
I can't talk personally but our kids had a blast on these.  They had been on the standard perfect storm ones before on Mariner, but the toilet bowl one was new to them.  Lots of fun.  Best time to go is on a port day.  We stayed on the ship for Nassau day so this worked well. Only downside is that the toilet bowl slide didn't open until 12pm (whereas the other one opened at 10am).

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There is also a kids area with slides and splash area

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Rock Wall
I also didn't personally try this but our kids enjoyed it. There was never a line when we went and they could go multiple times.  

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Flowrider
My son has done this before but didn't have any interest in this time. Symphony has one that is on your stomach/knees and another for stand up (and sometimes advanced stand up). The compass lists the hours for each.  I'm always really impressed when watching others...not only for standing and surfing, but just for the guts to try it!

Mini Golf
As a family, we never made it to mini golf.  But one evening my son wandered on his own (as he had no interest in Hairspray) and he said it was a great time to play; no wind or hot sun.

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