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HAK1906

Spring Break Cruise - Symphony

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Booked on the March 7-14 cruise on Symphony out of Miami. Flying in from Dallas, TX late Thursday night into Fort Lauderdale and staying the two nights in Miami Downtown. This  is our first cruise during a “peak” time on the biggest ship in the world. We are signed up already for all the shows, ice shows, etc...

Question:  For those who have traveled on Spring Break with their kids can I expect overly extended wait times, lines, on attractions on the ship as well at CocoCay?  Trying to get my families mind right on what to expect. As most I am head deep catching up on all Matt Podcasts as well as posts on the forum and blog until Sail time. Extremely excited for this trip as we are also taking two other families (10 additional people) with us on their first cruise. 
 

I am open to any and all suggestions pre cruise in Miami and hidden nuggets on Symphony that most don’t do or notice.  Thanks. 

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To me the biggest thing is to try to stay ahead of the crowds, ie don't go to the Windjammer at noon and expect to find a table.  We travel every year over Spring Break and while crowded there are some great things to do.  I avoid Windjammer except on embarkation day and that is only because we head there as soon as it opens.  I won't go into WJ for breakfast or lunch unless it is right when it opens.  We typically eat at El Loco Fresh for breakfast and Park Cafe for lunch.  As for water slides and Abyss, before noon and you will have very little wait.  The last sea day especially can be crazy crowded in the afternoon as people are getting one last ride but there is almost no wait in the morning.  

One thing I didn't know about the Abyss, is you need to wear sleeved shirts (no tank tops).  

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I don’t think you have to worry much on board and at CocoCay. Royal attempts to sell out every sailing so it’s not really any busier than normal just because it’s peak season. To me that’s the beauty of cruising compared to say Disney, where crowds will be insane. You just typically pay more for peak season cruises.

As was shared above, you can avoid crowds on board by eating at different venues or off peak times. We also find it best to experience the activities on board early in the week as everyone is trying to pack in all they missed during the last couple of days. 

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I was on symphony last year during spring break the middle of March for a family cruise with a group of a dozen of us including my wife, some other in-laws and outlaws from toddler aged niece and nephews to my folks in their mid 50's and chose spring break because a couple members work in education and could only go that week.  We have all cruised the voyager class together several times, two of those cruises were also on previous spring breaks and at the end of the day, Royal Caribbean bills itself as a family cruise for all, so spring break with kids is kind of right in their wheel house. 

To try and help answer your questions- yes, it was nuts in certain areas at certain times, but it sounds like you already know that based what you're asking.  Keep doing what you're doing to research now and you'll be fine.  After day 1 it settles in a LOT, everybody gets settled into their routines and nooks and crannies, there are a lot of great little spots, obviously it's a huge ship and that helps disperse the crowds and certain places like central park and the solarium remain quiet (during the day, at least-it would be great if they actually enforced adults only in the solarium or kids playing with elevator buttons, but now I sound twice my age haha, expect a lot of that, take the stairs, expect teens and tweens everywhere at night, kids in all the hot tubs all the time, it just is what it is).  

Also use the the tricks Matt and others here mention a lot, consider staying on board during part or all of a port day if you want more of the ship to yourselves.  Most of us only ducked into Nassau for lunch, and then came back onboard around 1pm and had a blast with low lines on flowrider and slides etc the rest of the day.  Great time.  The pool deck is huge and we could always find a spot to set up some kind of home base that everyone could rotate around and off of.  Solarium was the best of any ship I've ever been on but the bar was always slammed, make friends with a bartender or roaming waiter/waitress, we always kept a little cash with us to tip.  But just prepare yourself for day 1-Embarkation was a madhouse, the promenade and both sets of elevators were busy with long waits basically all afternoon and evening through the end of first night dinner service, shows were full, specialty dining was booked, all of that was annoying, yes moreso than voyager class, but it's more people, still manageable.  Fortunately we had booked the main things we wanted ahead of time for dining, shows, connecting rooms, bev pkg, etc and had zero issues.  Main dining room experience honestly was fine, it was not as high end as voyager class 10 years ago before the upscale dining craze, but it was still fine.  Staff was awesome all around, room was ready when we got onboard before noon, cabin steward was great, many bartenders remembered us....they must send the best and brightest staff to the newest biggest ships.  We had a great time, but....there was always a long line of a dozen or more at guest services and it didn't look fun....barring bad luck or misfortune I would try not to be those people.  And your usual crop of people who are simply mad that the sun came up again, as you'll have anywhere, anytime not just on a cruise.  Oh well.  Sucks to be them.

We found the pub was a good little hideout in the afternoon for trivia or with guitar player at night as was schooner bar and their piano player (it's really an odd placement above and at the end of the promenade, seems like an afterthought on Oasis class considering how much we love its more featured placement on Voyager class)  hooks for lunch was a great spot with incredible view and great food, central park cafe was the best breakfast and lunch spot (easily the lowest line among 'free' food spots), next easiest was probably el loco fresh, avoid the buffets on day one and on sea days, windjammer and solarium cafe both were slammed (like standing room only) from 11am-2pm those days.  After 1 or 2pm Bionic bar usually had a crowd and moved kind of slow, not sure I understand the draw there, our predinner cocktail meeting spot was Bolero's which was almost always completely empty before kicking up for a night full of dancing, etc.  The night club was a big hit and also packed most nights, esp the headphone silent dance party.  Nightclub themed party on the ice arena was a cool setup too.  Hairspray and water shows a must, it's actually really easy to catch the aqua shows at the back without any seat or reservation, you can see pretty good from a lot of places along the back of the ship, grab a drink from playmakers, walk around freely along the boardwalk enjoying the night.  Dazzles was a gorgeous space and the band was good when we stopped in a couple evenings, but it is small and filled up fast, just didn't feel utilized very well, I'm not sure what else was ever hosted there.  150 central park was one of the best meals of my life, the wine bar was not great mostly due to an annoying bartender who just wanted to talk Eastern European politics (the only time I have ever encountered that on RC) and poor value (we all had deluxe bev pkg but most wine across the ship is by the bottle and $$$), but we loved the stationary red bar in the middle of central park (not the moving up and down elevator bar, which seemed like a waste of space, wasn't open much, kind of gimmicky like bionic imo).  Overall we were very happy with our cruise, so many great things about Symphony, honestly we all agreed 7 nights on her for our first Oasis class cruise was not enough to see and do it all, just gonna have to return.

Overall I wouldn't particularly choose any class of ship or any line on spring break; if it was just me and the wife we would prefer to save the money and go when there are fewer kids around, but when it's the only option to vacation with the full family and if you like them (ha) YOLO and you'll still have a great time, there are a lot of ways to deal with avoiding the crowds and on the bright side there will be a lot of kids for your kids to meet and mingle with!

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Appreciate the great insight especially yours Dr Martini.  
 

we have the three night dinner package. Want to for sure do Chips and Wonderland. With the third learning toward 150. That or Hooked for the third option?

FYI, this is our fourth cruise. Started with Radiance (love that ship), then Adventure and then Liberty. As you can say we gradually graduated to each class along the way and now we are on the Big Boy Symphony. 😁

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