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Symphony OTS Live! - Transatlantic Oct. 28, 2018 "Coming to America"

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3 hours ago, Matt said:

Can you grab a photo of the sign that advertises this, along with maybe the appetizer menu? I think this would be a great blog post.

No menu.  The appetizer with the happy hour special is fixed for the night.  You have to ask.  Crab cakes, lobster, raw oysters, etc.  It rotates, but not published.    

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I haven't really addressed our cruise director on this sailing - Bobby Brown. I have to say a CD doesn't make or break a cruise for me.  I like some more than others but it's not a deal breaker f

Day 2 - Sea Day Moving South and West as we somewhat hug the coast of Spain.  Windy today, top decks closed.  The ship is handling great, minimal movement. After staying up into the wee hour

With that our tribe begins to appear unified and equal. Each is wearing a common tribal outfit. I've seen all of the aqua theater shows and this is my favorite.

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Day 6 - continued...

Tempted by the Hooked Happy Hour I headed there at 5pm.  

The deck 16 elevator lobby view towards Central Park.




Hooked has a bar in the center flanked by seating on port and starboard.




The bar is a full service bar and on this night it honored Diamond Happy Hour drinks but I was more intrigued by the Hooked Happy Hour offer.  For $10 you can have the nightly happy hour appetizer and a beer or glass of wine.  Tonight's appetizer was 6 raw oysters.  The happy hour appetizer changes from night to night.




Oysters aren't my thing so I passed.  

The bar is open to the public as any bar on the ship is.  Given the lack of bars that have an outside view on Oasis class in general this is great bar albeit a little on the small side once the masses find it.

Here is the regular Hooked dinner menu:


Wine list:


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2 hours ago, Matt said:

Can you grab a photo of the sign that advertises this, along with maybe the appetizer menu? I think this would be a great blog post.

I'm certain I saw this somewhere. Will search for it after the headliner show and post it to my blog when I find it.

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6 hours ago, Sweety said:

@twangster, you have me spending money again. YOLO, I am booking this for spring break 2021. Have to work night school again. I never worked night school until I brought a new camera, lenses and booked more cruises.

Work to cruise...that is what I always say to myself!

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Day 7 - Sea Day

Another beautiful sunny day at sea.


The Captain mentioned the idea of swell and how it can come across the ocean from thousands of miles away.  On this day the remnants of Hurricane Oscar are over 1,200 nm away but the source of our swell today.  Wind and waves are from the East behind us, the swell from Oscar is come from the West and North in front of us.  The ship is pitching slightly and pools have been drained to avoid water sloshing around.  It's a subtle movement today where occasionally one movement might be a little stronger than most.

The swell is best seen when video is sped up or in this case a time lapse:

The Solarium is popular today.




They must be working on the new Solarium Bar cover in the overnight hours as each day a little bit more is done.  They now have four glass panels in place:


The Solarium Bistro:


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Day 7 - Lunch

Since I was in the neighborhood... El Loco Fresh for lunch



Quite popular, I sense Royal Caribbean has a hit here.


There are three primary stations and the first offers soft tacos with different meats.


Pre-made Burritos are available


Finally some Quesadilla 


Lots of toppings


A lot of toppings...



My observations...

If you are a Mexican food Connoisseur then you'll you need to remember you are on a ship likely very far from Mexico.  Having said that it wasn't bad and I'll be eating here again.  In fact I have to give Royal credit for giving a strong alternative to another Windjammer lunch option.  The Guac isn't exactly how I like it, but they need to make it for the many, not just my taste buds.  That's not to say it's bad, just not exactly as it's made in my home.


My only gripe was lack of seating.  Many people during this noon lunch hour had parked themselves here to play dominoes, watch a game on their phone, read a book or otherwise... not eat.  That left few seats for those that actually wanted to... eat.  In essence, the same issue any Oasis class Windjammer has - not enough seats for the passengers on board.

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I haven't really addressed our cruise director on this sailing - Bobby Brown.

I have to say a CD doesn't make or break a cruise for me.  I like some more than others but it's not a deal breaker for me.  I had Bobby as a CD on Harmony (I think).  To be honest he didn't leave a great impression on that cruise.  

However in the "always keep your mind open" department he has been better than I anticipated on this cruise.  I've actually watched the Morning Show more than I usually do. 

One thing he added to this sailing was a unique special - "How Do You Maintain An Ice Skating Rink On A Cruise Ship?".  

As a cruise geek this was really cool.  Ice cool.  Just kidding, but really informative.  

We enter Studio B to see someone.. watering the ice.


Joining Bobby in this presentation is Rubin, the stage manager who looks after Studio B.


They discuss thing like where the dance floor used during "RED" or Laser tag is stored (hint, it's under the center section and it slides out from under the seats). That's different from other ship in different classes.

As it turns out sailings like a 12 night transatlantic are an opportunity for some maintenance activities.  The ship has been in service for several months and while things like the ice surface could go on, once the ship enter routine seven night sailings it would be much more disruptive to perform certain essential maintenance including replacing the ice in Studio B later on, so they took advantage of this 12 night sailing to melt Studio B.  To. The. Floor.  They melted it down to the bare floor.  Like defrosting a freezer at home, once in a while it just has to be done.  

They began melting it down right after (ok, during) the last ice skating show.  That took overnight, then they had to clean it all up and get ready to make new ice.

They have since been building the ice up, millimeter by millimeter, by hand, watering each layer every 15 minutes or so, around the clock, since.  In fact as we listened to the presentation, the crew came out to repeat the watering process we saw when we first arrived.


Then again.


The water is special filtered water.  This will continue for the three days, around the clock, until the ice approximately 3.5 cm thick (1 1/2").  But that's not all.  

If anyone follows Nick Weir, VP of Entertainment for Royal he has been touting how they have AMPED up the projection technology on Symphony over Harmony.  That in part starts in the ice.

Within the ice is embedded a membrane that enhances the resolution of the surface as a projection technology.  That membrane was just replaced here on Symphony and you can see it now only because this new ice is crystal clear.

At a distance you don't even see it.


Zoom in closer and you do. 


Symphony is the first to employ this projection surface embedded within the ice, not even Harmony has it.  Not yet.  

Studio B has it's own mini-Zamboni used to dress the ice surface each day.


The projection technology consists of six side mounted projectors that project onto this surface.


Each projector costs around $100k.  Combining the six projectors, three port, three starboard into what appears to be a complete image requires precision.  The manufacturer is based in Japan and when they need to re-align them (it's a moving ship in seas, stuff moves) they need to fly the engineer in from Japan to align them occasionally.  

Next they talk about drones.  Very interesting.  Forty eight drones with twelve spares on hand.   Very special technology because within Studio B there is no regular GPS signal like a consumer drone might use.  They have to create a reference 'cube' within Studio B for the drones to fly within.  That's where these black boxes hanging from the ceiling come in.


There are several of them mounted around the perimeter of the ice.  Combined with some floor mounted reference points and two portable white cubes placed on the ice surface they create a 3D GPS-like environment for the drones to operate in.  Now that they told us this, I recall seeing two white cubes sitting in the middle of the ice floor at the start of the show '1977'.

Before the show starts, while we are all waiting outside in line, the drones have to be checked to ensure they are happy with this reference cube.  If they aren't it has to be recalculated.  This is very new technology in use and with 48 drones operating in synchronicity, it's very precise.

The drone batteries are very special and they can't be flown due to HazMat laws.  That means when they need new batteries, they'll need to be shipped to America now that Symphony is on her way to Miami.  

As we listen on, two more crew come out to "grow" the ice.  Another few millimeters accomplished.


It turns out these are two of the Ice Skating cast.  Even they get into the act.  It's a team effort, four times an hour, around the clock, for three days.

You know how they don't seem to open the doors soon enough?  I certainly felt this on Adventure of the Seas recently when the Ice Skating show had long lines.  It turns they can't.  The room is temperature controlled and letting all that air conditioning out affects the ice surface.  They have to keep the doors closed as long as they can.  Lesson learned, be patient.  

It was a very interesting presentation unlike others I've seen on a ship and I thank Bobby for putting it on.  It gives me a greater appreciation for the level of effort that Royal puts into their entertainment.

One last note.  On the way out I saw these coins embedded in the ice.


Seems to be a tradition for the current cast who just changed over.  The previous ice skating cast, their first contract complete, has just headed home for a short vacation.

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