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

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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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11 hours ago, twangster said:

 I had Bobby as a CD on Harmony (I think).  To be honest he didn't leave a great impression on that cruise.  

You did.  We sailed about a month before you and we both had him.  Did not enjoy him either.


11 hours ago, twangster said:

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. 

This is good news.  Perhaps he is growing into his OA class CD role over time.

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Late last night the ship had a different feeling.  Like we kicked it up a notch in terms of speed. 

The map indicates we've turned at as far South as 231° but now we've settled on 237°.  We've reached the maximum published ship speed of 22 knots.


For a day or two now we've been sailing a steady 266-268° but a turn to starboard followed by a turn to port can be seen on the map.


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Day 8 - Sea Day

It seems we did two 'Crazy Ivans'  last night.


Breakfast at Johnny Rockets again.  Followed by a Walking Tour of Central Park with Laszlo, the Landscape Specialist on board.  


Laszlo is very familiar with Central Park and those with some historical knowledge of the Oasis class will recognize Laszlo since he has played a critical role in establishing all Central Parks across the Oasis sisters including the first one on Oasis.


With an April in service date in the Mediterranean Central Park had to be outfitted differently with plants designed for the European climate since it would sail for seven months there before this transatlantic.  Now that she is heading to the Caribbean, Central Park will slowly be changed to feature more plants that are designed for a tropical climate.  That will occur slowly as plants die or otherwise need to be replaced through 2019.  With over 12,500 plants on the ship they can't possibly change it all at once.  

The trellis should begin to grow with cover over the coming months with it's permanent plants in place.


A few weeks ago the ship encountered some nasty storms that were responsible to coating the ship with layers of salt water kicked up by the storms.  That included Central Park and Laszlo was quite sad when he returned from his scheduled vacation a few weeks ago to see the damage within Central Park done by those storms.  Plants don't like salt water.  Along with his three assistants they've been busy trying to bring it back to it's former glory.  The Living Wall has some bare spots as a result.


The Central Parks across the Oasis fleet have evolved as they learned what works better in an environment like Central Park.  Many plants are actually now in special 'pots' or steel cubes much like a planter that can be lifted out on demand to access electrical and plumbing lines that weave under the fabric of Central Park.  That's an evolution compared to Oasis where they routinely had to dig up plants and soil to access and do maintenance.   


Now that I know to look for them, I can see the planters most plants are contained in.


You can tell Laszlo loves this job and doesn't even view it as a job, it's a passion.



Winds in Central Park tend to come from aft.  As the ship moves forward air passing over the upper decks hits the aft glass wall and curls around in a forward motion closer to deck 8 level.  During her encounter with a storm a few weeks ago these winds actually knocked over some of the trees within Central Park.  Laszlo has never seen that on any Oasis ship before.


Plants used within Central Park and subject to the agricultural restrictions of each country visited.  Even though she was first built out in Europe they had to choose plants that are approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for her arrival in America.  Upon our arrival they will send inspectors to the ship to check each and every plant to confirm it meets USDA regulations.  

Many countries do the same on a periodic basis, even some smaller Caribbean nations although Laszlo suspects some of them just want to see the ship and enjoy a lunch aboard.  None the less protocol requires they allow these inspections to occur for every country the ship visits.

Australia has some of the toughest agriculture regulations and for this reason it is unlikely they will ever send an Oasis class to Australia because they would pretty much have to strip Central Park bare and start all over with local Australian vegetation.   For similar reasons they won't take Oasis class to cold climates like Alaska because Central Park's tropical plants would be devastated and it's a significant investment in the serious six figures ballpark.  The 2018 budget to begin migrating Central Park to tropical vegetation is around $250k according to Bobby Brown our CD.  That's just to begin the job.  

Central Park has a fire break zone in the middle just in case a fire were to break out.  In this manner the fire would not spread the entirety of the park.  This fire buffer includes height restrictions for trees and distances from sides and balconies.  There is a lot more to Central Park then just some plants.

The tool shed for the landscapers.  This is the entirety of the space the have on board.  The irrigation control panel is located here where they can water the many different irrigation zones that cover Central Park.


On surveys Central Park often ranks near the top of favorite neighborhoods on the ship.  

Our 30 minute session turned into 90 minutes due in no small part to how passionate Laszlo is about Central Park and it's vegetation.  



It was a very interesting tour and I'd like to see Royal invest a little more into it such as giving him a microphone and portable speaker or offering it more than once a cruise.

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5 hours ago, Sweety said:

Can you check to see what Next cruise is offering? Thinking about booking while on board next month.

Next Cruise offers are fixed across the fleet.  There may be a 'lottery' of sorts for those who book a cruise in the first few days on board your name is entered to possibly win some OBC for the current cruise.  Other than that the standard Next Cruise OBC is offered which isn't always combinable with weekly promos or periodic sales.

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On our last Harmony cruise, we got a private Central Park tour with Laszlo.  He is such a nice man and as Twangbot said, he loves his job !!  To date, that tour of CP is the most interesting and enjoyable Royal Caribbean tour we have ever done.  BTW,our Genie arranged this tour (he and Laszlo are good friends) so this is another great example of the kind of personalized service you get when you cruise Star Class !

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Captain's Corner


Given the large numbers of C&A Top Tier they figured this would be well attended and moved it into the main theater.

Captain Rob has a unique and dry sense of humor.   It was used extensively during this session much to the crowd's delight.

Just as he was about to begin, some guests in the crowd broke out in "Happy Birthday to you...".  Apparently today is his birthday.


Symphony has a number of innovations including a slightly different hull shape that along with the air lubrication system (and other changes) make her 25% more efficient than Oasis.  According to Captain Rob if you could see both ships in dry dock side by side the differences in the hull would be pretty apparent.

Captain's Rob first ship (at Royal) was Grandeur.  He was a Bering Sea fishing captain before joining Royal.  Moving to Royal he accepted a pay cut and joined as a junior bridge officer.  He worked up through the ranks to eventualy become a Captain again here at Royal.  

There are currently two Masters for Symphony, Captain Rob and Captain Rick.   They work a 10 week on/off cycle.  They keep in touch with each other at all times and let each other know what's going on around the ship.

According to U.S. Health Department code that the ship follows even in international waters, any food that is once placed out for consumption but not used is destroyed and run through the waste management process.  It is not, despite rumors, fed to the crew or used the next day.

The little deviation we did last night was due to cleaning out the ship's economizers in the stacks.  They need to be cleaned periodically and the zig zag course was executed as part of the cleaning process according to Captain Rob.

Captain Rob is not aware of any four sisters meet up.  He thinks it may happen, but at some future point.  He was on Oasis during the planning of the three sisters and that planning started months before it occurred. As he offered "Photoshop works really well and is a whole lot cheaper".


An enjoyable session with the Master of the vessel.

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After Captain's Corner I met up with @Neaxan and her husband!

We sat and talked for a while and I learned a great deal about their perspective of how Royal compares to the cruise lines they have sailed.  It's always interesting to talk with fellow cruisers and gain insight into other's thoughts and ideas. 

I had intended to return to the Thermal Spa but the water slides were open and with little lines I just had to try them.  To my surprise they are actually still doing work on them such as painting feet to stand on at the top and a line to stay behind until it's your turn.  

To be honest I can't remember Harmony's slides but these don't have any colored bands or lighting that enhances the experience.  Neither did the Abyss.  Just a dark slide into left, right, down, corkscrew and so on until you start to see daylight and the landing splash zone.   There are some sections of clear tubing but they slide past so fast you don't really have a chance to 'enjoy the view'.  I thought Harmony had colored bands in one slide that you zoom past.  Anyways, still really fun and I enjoyed all three slides.

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This blog is making it really hard for me not to book an Oasis Class cruise. Been looking at booking a cruise in January. Was originally going to do Brilliance as it was just going to be 2 couples, us in our 30’s and another in their 50’s. Might be a couple 16 year olds joining now as well so considering Adventure or Oasis. This blog has me wanting to do Symphony. Did Harmony back in March and loved her. Great blog as always Twangster! 

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On 11/2/2018 at 5:42 PM, twangster said:

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 ARE my thing..and WOW..$10 and a drink is an incredible deal!  

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Fantastic job, as always, @twangster.  Your attention detail and ability to combine amazing photos and great summary of what's happening is what brings me back to to this live blog time and time again.  Thanks for sharing so many details from the ice rink, Captain's Corner and (my favorite) Central Park at night.

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Day 8 - Flight

This is the first showing of Flight on this sailing.  It is performed by the same cast that performs Hairspray and it's an original Royal Caribbean production. To give it the respect it deserves I'm going to spread the pictures across a couple of posts.

Flight takes us through the history of aviation and space exploration.  We start in the future, getting ready to blast off on our 'sailing' to distant parts of the universe.


Our flight director greets us and welcomes us to the journey we are about to undertake.



Cleared for take off we blast off into space starting with a fly over an Oasis class ship in the waters near our space port.  Soon enough we are in space and greeted by our first musical act descending from the ceiling.


As we move back in time we are introduced to flight training and qualification.



Our candidates pass and are certified for flight.



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