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LIVE - October 28 - November 9 - Barcelona to Miami - Bringing Symphony home


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Here we go – embarkation day has finally arrived!   The theme of the morning was speed – our taxi arrived 20 minutes early, but luckily we were mostly ready 😎 Cue us arriving at the terminal

T-1! After a very short night’s rest we got up at 4.15 am. Thankfully the hotel provided some tea, coffee and croissants. Well, tea for Michael – I usually don’t drink coffee or tea, but if hubby

Day 2 After the overwhelming start yesterday, we used this day for settling in a bit. We got to meet our stateroom attendant Robert (from Costa Rica) who made sure we had everything we needed. Ea

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Day 7

Welcome to another beautiful day in the middle of nowhere! Unfortunately, the day started on a bad note for me. As our late night check yesterday revealed two filled pools, I got up way too early to finally get some swimming done. Cue me arriving on deck 15 after all these steps to find all pools but the sports pool drained – and the sports pool closed due to the swell. I’m putting it mildly when saying I was not amused. Guess it’s an American thing when they’re so afraid of something happening and maybe being sued. We’ve had worse seas from Gran Canaria to Morroco on Mein Schiff 3 and they didn’t even put up the partition for the 25 metres (82 feet) pool. But as Germans, if I’d injured myself in the pool I’d have thought it was my fault and not the cruise line’s – they’re not responsible for me misjudging my abilities after all. Well, nothing to be done here with an US cruise line – so back to the cabin to try to wake up hubby – a feat of its own. After finally getting him out of bed and presentable, we went back to Johnny Rockets as we enjoyed the food yesterday. Well, the wait was even longer! Today’s order was Patty ‘n eggs for both of us, hubby also got pancakes, I also got The Works. We still liked the food but it’s just too much trouble for us to do it regularly.

 

After choir practice (hopefully we get there for day 10) we just went to Playmakers for blogging and some beer. As were now 3 hours behind Germany, we’d hoped to watch German soccer. Unfortunately they only showed England‘s premier league, so hubby had to listen to his team on the radio. By the way, we’ve finally done it! We had lunch at Playmakers – Classic Popcorn Shrimp for me, Base Loaded Potato Skins for hubby. The shrimp was just as you’d expect it, but the potato skins were exceptionally AWESOME! We’ll have to get them again, they’re so delicious.

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As our dinner reservation was for 9 pm (12 am European time, and it finally feels like it!), we had a second lunch at Park Cafe. That’s where I also spotted this flag – it’s not only fellow Germans, but they’re routing for MY soccer team 😁

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Evening entertainment was the love & marriage show – another premiere for us. We’ve been married for 9 years now, so no sense in volunteering – to be honest, we wouldn’t have anyway ☺️ We had four couples (1 year, 4 years, 25 years, 50 years married) – it’s no surprise the longest-married couple won. We really enjoyed the show and had so many laughs, unfortunately it wouldn’t work with Germans because they just wouldn’t volunteer that kind of information 😎 For dinner, we did Izumi hibachi – again coming up in its own post.

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Side notes:

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Funny story about the difference between Americans and Europeans: one of our progressive trivia team mates from the UK chipped off part of a tooth when eating in Windjammer. Due to pain and an infection, she had to visit the doctor. Instead of just receiving treatment, they dragged her to Windjammer where she had to show exactly where she got the food and where she sat when the mishap happened – even though she explained countless times that it was her fault as she was distracted. She was really embarrassed by this and didn’t want to return to Windjammer because all staff know her now – and not for good reasons.

Only pool open today was the Solarium Pool – better than nothing, I guess – but not usable for swimming.

My mum finally got the hang of Whatsapp calling. No news on the baby front.

More staircase art:

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Izumi Hibachi

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Welcome to our first ever experience with teppanyaki style dining – this just isn’t a thing in Germany. Only the more reason to try it! For those who haven’t experienced this, you are seated around a grill and watch your chef prepare your dinner. In Symphony’s case, there are 8 seats per grill table. We were seated with a couple from Orlando who weren’t very talkative. The other 4 seats were two couples from London who were only talking on their own. Luckily, we had a very entertaining chef in Ryan.

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Before the teppanyaki itself starts, you get the chance to order from the normal Izumi menu (at à la carte pricing). We didn’t, because we’ll be back for sushi anyway. Included in the restaurant fee there’s your choice of two meats/seafood etc. I chose beef and tiger shrimp, hubby chose steak & chicken. Before your chef moves on to the good stuff, he’ll prepare veggies and rice for you. While you’re waiting for that (and enjoying the show, I might add), you’re served edamame and a salad with ginger dressing. We don’t like edamame but the salad was quite good.

Veggies and rice were just as you’d expect them, good but nothing to write home about. The meats/seafood on the other hand were really good. Afterwards, we had a chance to order mochi ice cream for dessert (included in the restaurant fee). Dessert tasted quite interesting, but we’ve had better on this cruise.

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Final verdict: Hibachi is more about show and entertainment and less about the food. I’d say you should do it once for the experience, but for us once is enough.

Side note: maybe don't don your best clothes, we were showered in veggies by the chef on the table behind us - guess his skills weren't quite up to par 🤣

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On 10/29/2018 at 6:54 AM, Neaxan said:

Here we go – embarkation day has finally arrived!

 

The theme of the morning was speed – our taxi arrived 20 minutes early, but luckily we were mostly ready 😎 Cue us arriving at the terminal about 10 am, but no need to worry, we by far weren’t the first ones. Symphony used terminals B and C for boarding, docked between Norwegian Epic and Sapphire Princess. Funny thing: if you arrive in the port you only see the front of the ships at first – and from that perspective, Epic looked even bigger than Symphony due to the front upper deck design (and the strange dark painting on Epic). Only when you start to see Symphony’s length you realize how big she really is. Unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures in the abysmal weather – we’re counting on Port Canaveral for that as the forecast for Malaga isn’t good either. At the terminal we got rid of all our luggage except my carry on with medication & medical aids. We stood in line for a minute for security and then got to check in immediately. Wow, placing the sea pass cards at the cabin doors works like a charm – we’ve never been checked in that fast! About 5 minutes from curb to the waiting area – and we didn’t even have expedited arrival.

 

We entered Royal Promenade at exactly 11 am. What can I say? I guess you’ve already seen the big wow on first timer’s faces when they embark an Oasis class ship. Royal Promenade felt wider than some of the ships we’ve been on! Now was the time to put everything I learned from you great people into practice. 1st step: Dining reservations! As we’re on the 5 night package, we couldn’t do reserverations online. We got to the nearest desk and apart from a 10 minute pause due to IT problems (imagine my shock!), we were good to go in a breeze. Step 2: making sure we got all the entertainment reservations – done.

 

After that, we decided to go the „Matt way“ – lunch in Windjammer. Wow, it was packed. We found 2 seats with a very nice couple from Texas and already experienced a massive pro of cruising with an international cruise line: you get to chat with people! We’re both introverts at heart so we’re not likely to start a conversation but we love to chat – that doesn’t work well on German cruise lines 😄 For lunch I only went with a salad but hubby had a got through the whole restaurant with his plate. His verdict: buffet food quality and selection is better than on TUI Cruises. No red velvet cake for dessert, but red velvet cheesecake – had to go with that for Sweety. We finished lunch a few minutes to 1pm, so off to the cabin next.

 

Our cabin is an inside stateroom on deck 8 – all the way to  the front. We usually spend the money we save on the cabin for excursions – this being a transatlantic with only 2 ports, we’ve invested it in speciality dining and drink packages. We were quite surprised with the size of the cabin – it’s more than adequate and even the bathroom is quite good for us chunky types. Even better yet – when we got to the cabin we could already see our poison green suitcases down the hall. We took them and unpacked immediately – finished at 2.15 pm and we even got everything in closets and drawers, the suitcases all fit under the bed – not bad considering we’re travelling with 2 suitcases, 2 travel bags and 2 carry ons! We later found out we were the lucky ones – there have been a few luggage mix-ups with suitcases placed in front of the wrong staterroms.

 

Some of you might remember from my older posts in other threads, that I had a „project zipline“ going on. I can report that I accomplished getting under the weight limit and managed to get on the zipline right before it closed for muster drill – proof in the pictures. Might do it again in better weather for better pictures. Next stop: Studio B for the German guests reception. There are actually German D+ on board who don’t even speak English – no idea how they manage as even we can’t understand all of the German menus and cuise compasses – right now we’re doing better with the English version.

 

Muster drill was quite uneventful other than that I could use the time waiting for a workout (we’re in A2, the gym). Afterwards, we explored the ship a bit and did people watching at the flowrider. Hope I learned something from it, I’m going to try it once the weather gets warmer. We watched sailaway from the wing next to the solarium. As we had to wait for Sapphire Princess to back up, we were late for the after-sailaway FB meeting in Boleros – no problem, we just got a drink anyway. Had to do another nod to Matt and got a Kraken Lavaflow. What can I say? We really loved it and are now officially hooked! Which brings us to our first speciality dinner – but that will be in its own post.

 

Dinner was just a bit too much for us, so we explored the ship a bit more and even threw in two rounds on the lovely running track for good measure. Being close to the water on the track is really nice and seeing the waves explained the rollingwe felt since leaving Barcelona – quite unusual for the Med. The rolling combined with too much food and the fact that we’re not used to that kind of food and drinks anymore brought us to bed early (11.45 pm).

 

Side notes:

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American food portions aren’t for us

No laps in the pool today – the water is ok but we were just overwhelmed with this beautiful ship and everything that’s going on – another reason why this blog entry is a bit late.

Aquanation (no reservations required) tomorrow – keep your fingers crossed that it’ll even happen with the cold temperatures and waves. Otherwise we’ll have to redo all our entertainment and part of our dinner reservations.

We LOVE international cruise lines – a bit of small talk everywhere! Restaurants, bars, elevators (no no-elevator-rule if carrying around luggage 😇) – it’s unusual for us but fun.

First and only time hubby ignored the no-elevator-rule, he met the stowaway piano player. I feel cheated 😥

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Could you please inform me on what the white and red drink on the left is? It looks super yummy. And does it just come in that size? Thanks 🙂

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13 hours ago, Neaxan said:

150 Central Park

Here it is, the restaurant we were least looking forward to. In the other restaurants, the challenge was to narrow down our choices – here the challenge was to find enough to not leave hungry. In the name of research, we still couldn’t skip this one. Spoiler alert: even though we planned to, we didn't need a post dinner at Windjammer.

 

For starters, hubby chose the waiter’s recommendation, Braised Short Rib. I got the other recommendation, Seared Honey-Glazed Scallops. We also ordered Crispy Berkshire Pork Belly as I had read much about it on certain boards. What can I say? Our attitude towards this restaurant was way off! I had my doubts about the scallops because I’ve often received overcooked ones (I know they’re tricky to prepare, that’s why I don’t do it myself) – but they were absolutely perfect. Same goes for the short rib. I also had doubts about the pork belly, especially when it arrived and I saw the huge amount of grease – this jelly texture is a pet hate of mine. To our surprise, the pork belly was really crisp and absolutely delicious. We can wholeheartedly recommend all three appetizers.

 

 

 

For entrees I again didn’t really see anything appealing to me, so I went with the most recommended choice on the boards – Roasted Tenderloin of Beef – which they graciously let me order for one person as hubby followed the waiter’s recommendation of Lamb Wellington. Guess who regretted his choice? Although the lamb was positively delicious, the tenderloin was just so much better – a class of its own. Food envy is well and alive on board 😈

 

 

Usually this part oft he verdict is reserved for the highlight of the dinner – not so much this time. Guess the tenderloin was just too hard an act to follow. For dessert we chose Fried Cheesecake (waiter’s recommendation) and Peanut Butter Chocolate Tart. Hubby prefered the cheesecake, I prefered the chocolate tart. Both desserts were good but just couldn’t measure up to the entree. I might be a bit preoccupied on this one as all this deep frying isn’t really my cup of tea and I hate peanut butter except for homeopathic doses. Good news: the tart really only has a bit of peanut butter so I could cope.

 

 

Final verdict: much to our surprise, we really loved 150 Central Park. Food’s taste and presentation was quite perfect and so much better than the menu made us expect. We’d rank it at the same level as some one star Guide Michelin restaurants we’ve tried – I don’t think you can give a higher compliment than that for a restaurant onboard a ship crossing the Atlantic as landbased restaurants have free access to fresh ingridients. Only aspect that was REALLY underwhelming was our waiter, who didn’t care much about us at all – guess he was completely busy with doing everything and anything for the star class couple next to us. At least we couldn’t help but notice that they got a much better service. But that isn’t really a problem – it’s more of what you’d expect from German waiters (he was from India), maybe it’s just that Baptiste, Juan Carlos and Shadiek are a hard act to follow. Funny side note: we’ve met all our favourite waiters when roaming around the ship and they all remembered and greeted us – not so this waiter, he walked right past us a few times in Central Park. Guess you can gather our verdict about him from the fact we can’t even remember his name 😁

 

TLDR: If you’re on the fence about this restaurant – please do try it! Believe me, you’ll be amazed!

Did you happen to notice if there were any real vegetarian entrees? Besides like basic vegetables or something? I would like to try this as well but my traveling buddy is a vegetarian. Thanks. 

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1 hour ago, Sh2738 said:

Did you happen to notice if there were any real vegetarian entrees? Besides like basic vegetables or something? I would like to try this as well but my traveling buddy is a vegetarian. Thanks. 

There's one vegetarian entree: cauliflower steak with pumpkin seeds, thyme, garlic confit and greek yogurt. If your buddy is a pescetarian, there's also halibut.

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How did you find Bobby Brown as emcee of the Love & Marriage show? I know that he was criticized in the past for not being especially funny or making the show as lively as other CDs, so I'm curious to know if you found him to be entertaining / engaging / funny / etc., and how well he drew out the contestants into playing along.

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Just now, JLMoran said:

How did you find Bobby Brown as emcee of the Love & Marriage show? I know that he was criticized in the past for not being especially funny or making the show as lively as other CDs, so I'm curious to know if you found him to be entertaining / engaging / funny / etc., and how well he drew out the contestants into playing along.

Both hubby and me actually like Bobby. We love his Scottish humour and the fact that he's all around the ship and quite approachable. He did get all contestants to play along and was very good at teasing answers out of them. I know Bobby isn't a favourite on this board, I guess you have to be used to British humour - it helps 😀 Mind you, Bobby is our first CD so we can't compare.

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Just now, JLMoran said:

Lifelong Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Benny Hill fan here, so unless he's way more reserved in his humor I'm guessing I'd appreciate him just fine. 😁

Guess you'll like him just fine. We also like the chemistry between him and Katy (Acitivies Director).

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Day 8

Another day that didn’t start as planned. As this venue still wasn’t crossed off our to do list, we wanted to have breakfast at Solarium Bistro. It opens at 7.30 am and we arrived at 8.10 am (we were just slow getting out of bed). The lines were literally around two corners with every seat in the venue taken. Quick change of plans: off to the MDR we went. MDR breakfast for us mere mortals (lower than diamond) is on deck 3 – we’ve never been that far down on the ship. There were a few lines here, but we got in quick as we were willing to share a table. Of course we are – that’s half of the fun! We were seated with couples from the US and Canada. Really enjoyable conversations all around the table – in fact so enjoyable that we nearly missed choir practice 😈 Breakfast choices were Eggs Benedict (never tried that before) and banana or strawberry pancakes. Guess Eggs Benedict are not our cup of tea, but we’ll return to the MDR for breakfast. Service might not be the fastest, but other than that it’s really enjoyable.

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The rest of the morning was spent on Boardwalk at – you’ve guessed it - Playmakers. At 1 pm, when the crowds were thinning out, we went to Johnny Rockets for lunch. Good onion rings, wishy-washy fries, ok Smoke House and Route 66 burgers, very dry BBQ Chicken Bacon Melt – but the shakes were fantastic (and included in the drink package). After my burger I wanted to go the healthy route and ordered a Crispy Chicken Club Salad – as hubby put it: chicken and bacon with a few green spots 😂 The salad was delicious, just not what I had expected. I had to pass on dessert but hubby got a Strawberry Super Sundae – easily lunch’s highlight apart from the milk shakes. Ice cream at Sugar Beach wasn't that much better - especially considering a price of 3.54$ per scoop (service charge included). 

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With that crossed off our list, it was time to meet the Twangster bot at Schooner. He’s the one mostly responsible for us doing this blog and solely responsible for us finally buying an DLSR so thank you for that! Was really interesting to hear the perspective of a seasoned Royal cruiser. No pictures as bots are like vampires in that regard – mirrors and cameras don’t work 🤣

 

Next stop was the running track – a necessary evil after this lunch. We even checked if Aquanation was still on before changing in the cabin – everything was fine then. But as we got back, the Aqua Theater was closed off – both Aquanation shows were cancelled 😭 Instead, we went to Playmakers to watch NFL. We met a couple from Mexico, her father is German. She even went to Germany to study the language, but unsurprisingly forgot everything except a few words 🤣 Yes, we know that German is not the easiest language - but try Polish or Hungarian 😂

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Day 8 - Part II

Dinner was at Windjammer – well kind of. We were still quite full from Johnny Rockets, so it was more a litte bit of salad and a few desserts. As this is likely our only evening in Windjammer, we did a bit of recon. A bit more choice than TUI Cruises, but overall we’d say they’re on par as TUI has way better gelato.

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Side notes:

12.6 k steps

Do Americans ever use spices on fries and the like? I start to understand your penchant for ketchup and other condiments.

No idea what the h*** Aqua Theater is for. If they can’t run a show in the conditions we had today, they’d need perfectly flat seas to do it. Is the Caribbean sea always completely flat or do they just cancel most of the shows?

If you see the Starbucks on board, you'll come to the conclusion that being a Starbucks addict is a requirement to get promoted to officer with Royal.

Towel animal of the day: peacock (at least I'm certain of that one)

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More staircase art – I think we’ve got them all now – well, the ones I liked anyway.

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Finally, the best piece of art on Symphony of the Seas:

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Day 8 - Part III - The Grand Finale

Evening entertainment was Flight – done by the cast of Hairspray. While Twangster was in this cruise's first show, we went to the late night session. Finally another production show for us! And what a show it was – the pictures really don’t do it justice. Apart from the non-existent storyline this was top notch entertainment with goosebumps at the finale. We could rewatch this show over and over and recommend you do it as soon as you get the chance! Needless to say that the cast got a well-deserved standing ovation for this. And we were quite happy that the 45 minutes in an ever-groing line before the theater opened was time well-spent.

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1 hour ago, Matt said:

So many Flight spoiler photos in one message board! 😄

Sorry Matt, I don't consider them "spoiler photos". What Twangster and Neaxan have posted have convinced me we NEED to cruise this incredible ship. Those Flight photos have definitely piqued my interest. Hopefully I can book it when the 2021 schedule is posted. I don't care about the itinerary so much because we will probably do a B2B and just enjoy the hell out of this cruise ship! :27_sunglasses:

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Just now, Matt said:

So many Flight spoiler photos in one message board! 😄

 

Just now, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Skimmed this one too.  No offense @Neaxan 😉

Well, I got good news for you. There's no way the pictures could ever do Flight justice. They're only pictures after all. No matter how good the pictures, you'll still need the whole ride. The goosebump feeling is only achieved when being in a live audience. I guess the whole audience knew what would happen in the finale - with all the hints and spoilers from Bobby and Katy. That didn't dampen the feeling of sheer amazement. This show is truly magical.

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Just now, rjac said:

Sorry Matt, I don't consider them "spoiler photos". What Twangster and Neaxan have posted have convinced me we NEED to cruise this incredible ship. Those Flight photos have definitely piqued my interest. Hopefully I can book it when the 2021 schedule is posted. I don't care about the itinerary so much because we will probably do a B2B and just enjoy the hell out of this cruise ship! :27_sunglasses:

There's only one correct answer to that: YOLO, book it! I'm sure you won't regret it.

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7 hours ago, Neaxan said:

No idea what the h*** Aqua Theater is for. If they can’t run a show in the conditions we had today, they’d need perfectly flat seas to do it. Is the Caribbean sea always completely flat or do they just cancel most of the shows?

I was on Harmony in March and they cancelled all of the shows. Instead they did perform 2 of them during the day while we were docked in one of the ports. Wasn’t quite the same being during the day. 

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9 hours ago, LandstromCruise said:

I was on Harmony in March and they cancelled all of the shows. Instead they did perform 2 of them during the day while we were docked in one of the ports. Wasn’t quite the same being during the day. 

We were probably on the same cruise!  That was our first time on an Oasis class and it was disappointing that they only showed them during the day in the ports.  The CD made it sound like it was unusual and one of the first times for a daytime showing.  The waves weren't that bad (ie DD7 wasn't sick and she is very prone to motion sickness).  However, seeing the aquatheater pool shift water I understood why it was cancelled and wondered if it happened more often too.

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