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Symphony Of The Seas 23-30 Sep ,maybe a semi live blog


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Last day on Symphony , did not update few days due to internet hogging by someone, long shore excursion and many other excuses but I promise to update later, for sure I will publish pictures from amazing Capri.

Now we are waiting to see flight , the new RC production which we missed yesterday but successfully reserved it for today .

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Day 5

I did not forgot , I still need to report the extra missing days  😊 , at Day 5 we came to the port which suppose to be near Rome , actually its about 1 hour from Rome (pending the traffic which can be problematic in Italy). As we visit Rome five month ago we decided to stay most of the time on the ship with some quick tour at the port city (for water and coffee). So we took the time to wake up and  breakfast at the WJ (we planned to go to Johnny Rocket but missed it by 2 minutes). Getting to the city was quite easy , they have a shuttle bus that drops you at the port entrance and from there it’s a five minutes’ walk. Noting really to say about the city , its not the biggest or the prettiest  but it has some restaurants, coffee places and supermarkets  to re stock with some products and gifts options . So we walked around the city for couple of hours and took the shuttle back to the ship to take the advantage on the fact that most of the  people went to visit Rome (or so we thought). I guess we were not the only people that decide to stay that day , there were some lines to the water slides and the flow rider. The worse lines were to the Laser Tag , it was the second day which they offered it (for 3 hours) and the lines started near the Casino entrance, we saw the line , gave up and were very happy we done it on the day one , as always try to take advantage on the first day for the most popular activities . Dinner was the MDR today (sorry no pictures) , service was fast and the food was good as usual bunt not special.  We went to sleep early as we had 7:30 AM tour to Capri.

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Day 6  - Naples.

This is our 4th cruise with port stop in Naples , each time we find new things to do (first tour was Pompeii, second was  to Sorrento and the third was Naples itself) So it was our first time to go to Capri. It was a full day tour we booked from RC. at 7:00 pre morning I waked up to the  sound of the alarm (it was still dark outside I have checked) I did a quick shower and ran to the park cafe to bring us some bagels. We arrived at time to the meeting point and after 10 minutes we done our way to the pier , collecting our devices which were offered on all the Italian tours (receivers to hear the guide from a distance) and met our guide that took us to the fast ferry. The ferry ride takes around 45 minutes and it was quite smooth (well whatever I remembered since I was sleeping most of the ride , after all it was still pre morning for me). The guide asked us to get up few minutes before so we will be the first group that disembark, we done it and off we went to catch the minibus which took us to AnaCapri on top of the hill. In AnaCapri we could have choose what we want to do, chairlift to the top of the mountain , Museum or a church. We choose to do the chairlift and got tickets  the from the guide. The chairlift was wonderful, it’s a single chairs so you are riding the lift for 15 minutes passing breathtaking view , a very serenity experience.

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Once on the top of the mountain , there is a trail with many “pictures” points and a small coffee shop. We spent 20 minutes on the top of the mountain and took the chairlift down.

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The next stop was Capri town , its in the middle of the hill and contains many shops, restaurants and a nice view from one of the gardens (the ticket was also included) , here is Capri typical taxi :

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) we did the guided tour and got around 2 hours of free time which we used to eat a pizza, excellent ice cream and tour the town. Going back to Capri port we took the funicular (again tickets were included) were we embark  the ferry back to Naples. All in all it was around 8 hours tour , very recommended and it was one of the tours that we really felt you getting a good value for your money. Although you can save some money by doing it yourself , the lines we skipped and the great tour guide was really worth it. Since we had still some time before “all on board” we decide to go and visit Naples for an hour , so we went directly to the city to enjoy a good espresso before heading back to the ship. It was formal night , so we got organized and went to eat at the Coastal Kitchen . we both took the lobster for main although they also offered the rack of lamb. For dessert we took the tapioca which was good

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. It was another  perfect day  

 

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6 minutes ago, Traveler said:

When I saw the view one of the first thing I thought was that you need to come a week before you TA cruise and take a pre cruise to this area  🙂 

I'm flying in the day before due to work constraints but sounds like a great idea.  

I'm still getting over the envy from you having done Symphony twice while many us haven't yet been once.  🙂 

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7 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

Amazing photos, @Traveler! Whenever I make it to the Mediterranean, I will definitely have to visit here with the family.

Did the chairlift have any kind of safety bar or seat belts or anything? Hard to tell from your pics, but it almost looks like you're just sitting loosely in the chair.

Thanks, 

Yes , the chairlift has a bar that you lower once you are in the seat and take it up before leaving the seat , the operator has a stop and a slow button which they can press if they see someone need extra time to catch the seat or to get out of it.

 

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Thanks for confirming that, @Traveler! I've got a pretty decent fear of heights that gets worse in something like a chairlift, but if there's a secure bar there to hold me in that will help stave it off. May not work up the nerve to take any photos, since that would mean letting go of the bar, but at least I could make it up to the top of the mountain and back down! 😅

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Just now, JLMoran said:

Thanks for confirming that, @Traveler! I've got a pretty decent fear of heights that gets worse in something like a chairlift, but if there's a secure bar there to hold me in that will help stave it off. May not work up the nerve to take any photos, since that would mean letting go of the bar, but at least I could make it up to the top of the mountain and back down! 😅

Well ,  its not that high , 

I can promise you in the way down you will already feel ok to take photos since you will know what to anticipate.

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44 minutes ago, twangster said:

 

I'm flying in the day before due to work constraints but sounds like a great idea.  

I'm still getting over the envy from you having done Symphony twice while many us haven't yet been once.  🙂 

Well , I am envy with all the people that can get to the car any time at the year and catch a cruise or in the worse case scenario 4 hours flight 🙂 (and not 12)  lucky for me Symphony and Harmony were around here first.

If you are planning to fly the day before here are few things you should take into consideration :

1. Change money to Euros in the US , the change in the airport and in the city will give you bad rate/commission. 

2. you will need around 40 Euros for the taxi from airport to the city , not sure that Ubber will work from the airport.

3. If you are landing on Sunday, take into consideration that   most of the big supermarkets are closed on Sunday only small one are open , if it is regular day , opening hours are 9am to 9- 10 PM , I will recommend to buy your wine there.

4. There is a shop post security before you board the ship , they sell boxes of water and wine , for sure no issue to take the water you buy there to the ship.

5. Symphony is boarding from two different terminals (B and C) make sure you know which terminal you should use.

6.Expedite embarkation works perfectly in Barcelona.

7. Boarding time is around 11 AM (10 minutes +/-)

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6 hours ago, firebuck said:

What a great blog and amazing photos!  Thanks for sharing!  A Mediterranean cruise is now on my bucket list.  I was thinking about an Alaskan cruise on Ovation next year, but now.... hmmm...

FWIW, if I had to choose one, I would do Med over Alaska.  But try to find a Med sailing that goes for more than 7 nights.  7 nights is very rushed.  Any Med itinerary is so port intensive that it is nice to have a few sea days in between.

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40 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

FWIW, if I had to choose one, I would do Med over Alaska.  But try to find a Med sailing that goes for more than 7 nights.  7 nights is very rushed.  Any Med itinerary is so port intensive that it is nice to have a few sea days in between.

Oasis #5!

I know you are a very suite girl so figured you might want to time it when an Oasis class ship is in the med.  

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28 minutes ago, twangster said:

Oasis #5!

I know you are a very suite girl so figured you might want to time it when an Oasis class ship is in the med.  

This has been a conversation Hubby and I have had over the last few years.  I don't know if I would do the Med on Oasis class.  When I cruise OA class, I just want to be on the ship.  That is our destination.  I would be really torn if I sailed the Med on OA class because how can you go to Europe and not see all the ports?  In the end, when we go back to Europe, it will likely be on a smaller ship.  Less expensive for suites lol.

21 minutes ago, rjac said:

So go for a B2B, that will solve the "rushed " feeling. :27_sunglasses:

We have done a 12 night Med on Brilliance before.  Loved that.  That ranks as of my top cruises ever.  The Star class one on Harmony in March might change that but that will still be one of favourite vacations ever.  The timing was a perfect mix of port/sea days.  We did not feel guilty not spending enough time on the ship as Brilliance was much smaller.  And we were never bored on board because we were off the ship a whole lot.

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Day 7-8  - Sea day and Back to Barcelona .

I must Admit I am too lazy with finishing  this blog this time , I guess a combination of work, Blog fatigue ( @Matt every "live blog" I am adding I am admiring you more and more , where do you find the strength to update the blog every day ?!), But I can not leave it open like that , so here is the last days on the Symphony.

We started the only sea day we had with some coffee over the balcony before heading to the WJ (the only thing that was still open) for a breakfast. I went outside to look what is going on around the pool to learn there is no lack of empty chairs which is nice (and yes it was sunny most of the times). I guess the ship is just big enough to handle pool chairs issue , the upper deck was even emptier.

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we walked around the ship to see if we want to participate in any activities (and to make sure we are doing enough steps even when its a sea day)  we went to check the solarium pool , which reminds me to bring the picture of the sky bridge (you can access it only from the solarium 

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later we decided to split , I went to rest and my spouse went to catch some sun (our balcony was not on the right side for it). we regrouped later and went to eat lunch at the boardwalk hot dog stand , I liked it. across , we found a chocolate  fountain which you can deep in fruits or marshmallows, tasty but very messy (at least it gave my spouse opportunity to lough at me seeing my face 🙂 ). 

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Post lunch I went to visit the Casino while trying to be very careful not to harm too much what I gain, it was OK , went to ask the Casino host when they are handing the certificate he told me not to worry and it will be handled later on, it was strange as most of the times they already handle it on the six night of the cruise but I did not argue although when ever someone tells not to worry its a good sign for me to start and worry (mainly at work) . We both went to see the sexiest man competition, it was fun , mainly for my spouse .  As we missed our reservations for SKY show  (due to dinner in the CK) I went to the reservation desk to reserve it again , no issues we got our reservation for 5 PM. We went to the theater around 4:40 PM and got a seat at the second row in the middle (first row was reserve for start class  customers) and order some frozen PC to get into the mode. The show started on time and was very impressive although I am sure they will work to make it even better. Dinner was at the WJ , it was nice to see they finally brought out the decorations

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Post lunch we went down to the Casino to use the points we collect so we will not loose them , asked again the Casino host about the certificate and I have been told "not to worry" , you can guess, I never got them (although I had enough points) , later I had to call the RC number to get the certificate number but yet did not got the list of cruises that we can use it.Next we catch the I skate 2.0 show, it was fun to watch although we had to stand most of the show.As a lesson learned from previous cruises we decided to go to sleep early , it makes the disembarkation day more bearable.

We woke up to see Barcelona sunrise ,

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At 8:15 am   after two bagels from park cafe (we hate WJ on embarkation day),   we went out of the room directly to the gangway , it took us overall 10 minutes until we were on the taxi to the hotel (including collecting our luggage) comparing to last time it was very fast as usually there is a 15-30 minutes waiting line for a taxi.

15 minutes (and 15 Euros) later we already checked into our hotel (our flight was only on the next day) , lucky for us , they had the room ready, it was the Holiday inn express hotel , it had exactly what you expect from such hotel and enough for a post cruise. we slept a while went out  to walk in a very nice avenue which was full with local restaurants. We stopped in one of the restaurants for a branch with beer, it was very tasty. we continue few minutes more until we got  the coastline, from that point we walked for 45 minutes more near the sea  just to get to the Barcelona Aquarium and to  the only mall which  is open on Sundays. few hours later we return back to the hotel just to  catch dinner , we went again to Tapa Tapa (which I started to call it the MacDonald of the tapas bars 🙂 ).

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Our flight back was at 9 am ,we left the hotel around 6:45 , we had a 9 hours connection at Vienna so we bought a combine tickets for the airport train and the subway  and did our way to Vienna center (17 minutes). Vienna center (or the old Vienna) is beautiful and many interesting building are very close by .

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We spent few hours at the center (including lunch, Vienna schnitzels ) and took the subway to visit the Schönbrunn palace (Which I bought tickets online once we landed), they are not allowing to take pictures inside the place so I have excuse for not sharing any. The visit took around 1.5 hours as we took the limited tour , you can spend there easily half a day (the gardens are very big). Once we finished the tour we took the subway  back to the train station, we had some extra time before the airport train departure so we went to the supermarket which is located inside the train station to buy some Austrian chocolates. At the airport we spent and hour in the star alliance lounge and we finally took our flight home.

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Some General observations: 

1. Symphony - a wonderful ship , always something happens, 22/7 activities (although during the night time less) , it was never crowded (beside the WJ but even than it was not too bad). can wait to board it again.

2. MDR - food was as always, with some ups and downs , service was very prompt , we had the MTD and got the same table during the two times we were eating there.

3.WJ - comparing to last time I felt the food quality  and  verity were less but still we found some good options for a quick meal.

3. Coastal Kitchen - Very good , we were eating there 3 times , service is excellent and the food was very good , we had no issue to enter (although we were at a JS) or to reserve for next visit  (first reservation  I just call them from the room the rest we done with the host). The host was very very friendly. 

4. Cabin - we were at  a JS deck 9 , it was excellent , so much room to put everything and really enjoyable - downside the room is so comfortable that you want to stay in.

5. Entertainment - Hiro , SKY , Ice skating shows  all were wonderful , live music was good and the different events were fun , the house singers could be better.

6. CD/AD - We had BB as the cruise director and some temp AD from Brazil , the chemistry between them was not the best but maybe because the AD came for a short time. Bobby Brown was Bobby Brown , it was not a disaster or something I can not enjoy because he was organizing it but I saw better. For us it did not took anything out from our experience.

7. Casino - Machines were OK like last time , I will say until now Symphony treat us well (both of the times we were cruising), Table games had the endless shuffle shoe which I do not like so did not play too much , when I played it was not that good. Casino host - he was doing some Knowledge transfer during this cruise and I got the feeling that he really needs a vacation, but again its a big ship.

8. Pools and slides - Always we could find  were to seat , the lines to the slide were not that horrible.

9. General service - Everyone were very nice and did allot of effort to help.

10. Passengers - The captain did not gave the exact numbers of each country , just that we have passengers from 90 different countries . I think we had many from UK, US, Spain  and allot from Israel as it was a vacation week at Israel and I guess many took advantage of it. The captain even force the only Hebrew spoken officer (and apparently the only Israeli crew member on the ship) to say some words in the captain reception, that was the first time  I ever saw the security officer being presented.

11. RC application - It was working most of the times , we did the online check in via the application that worked perfectly  (expedite boarding) and we could see the updated cruise activities , still the folio was never updated and from time to time I had to restart the application.Hope the will fix it soon.

12. Embarkation/Disembarkation - both very quick around 10 minutes - good job RC.

13. Drinks - we did not took the drink package as it is a very  port intensive cruise , we bought some drinks, used the two bottles of wine we brought with us  (dinner time) and use the Casino prime privilege  that I had , I took almost every evening two drinks (one for each) no issues at all (I just had to show the card) and usually left 5 to 7 $ tip each time. All in all I think we spent around 120$ over drinks.

 

Until the next time, thanks for following and for all the comments.

   

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On 10/3/2018 at 4:42 PM, Lovetocruise2002 said:

7 nights is very rushed.  Any Med itinerary is so port intensive that it is nice to have a few sea days in between.

We sailed Harmony on her 4th cruise after arriving in the Med., in 2016, and I can concur with everything you said, by Saturday of the cruise we were exhausted, this was the only sea day. I wouldn't give this cruise up for anything, it is still in my top 2-3 cruises, but if we go back to the Med, we will go on a smaller ship with more sea days and time to relax.

The thing about the O class ships is that there are very few ports they can go into, the smaller ships give a broader range of choices because they can fit tin the smaller ports.

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