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Symphony of the Seas

Do's & Don'ts of Symphony of the Seas

In:
24Jun2020

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world, and with a title like that, there is plenty to see, do, and explore onboard!

Going on a Symphony of the Seas cruise means access to incredible dining, shows, daily activities, and fun destinations to visit.  With so much opportunity, here is what you need to know to maximize your time onboard.

Do the pre-cruise check-in

Before you ever step foot onboard Symphony of the Seas, be sure to complete the online check-in.

Doing online check-in will save you time at the terminal, and greatly speed up the entire process once you arrive for your cruise. After all, it is much more enjoyable to breeze through the terminal and get onboard faster!

The easiest way to check-in for your cruise is to download Royal Caribbean's app and log into your account to get it started.

You can check-in up to 90 days before you sail date, but it must be completed no later than 3 days prior to sailing. It is easy to forget, so be sure to get it done early.

Checking in online is super quick, and will save you time later at the port.

Don't forget to book entertainment before your cruise

Symphony of the Seas has a lot of amazing shows and activities onboard, and you will not be the only person who wants to try to do them all.

On Oasis (and Quantum) Class ships, Royal Caribbean allows guests to prebook shows and activities from the Cruise Planner. These reservations guarantee you a spot at a specific time to see a show or engage in an activity.

Making reservations for shows is complementary, so you have nothing to lose by making a reservation.

There is no set time frame when shows will become available to book, but it is usually closer to your sail date, in the 30-45 day range.  The key is to periodically check the Cruise Planner for when it may appear.

Do eat at the less crowded restaurants

Typically cruisers on a Royal Caribbean ship will head to the Windjammer or main dining room to eat meals, but on Oasis Class ships these venues can easily get crowded.

Instead, you want to dine at the less busy, but still awesome complimentary restaurants.

On embarkation day, hit up El Loco Fresh or Park Cafe.  El Loco Fresh has tacos, burritos, chips and more to enjoy and you can get in an out super quick. Park Cafe has the world-famous Kummelweck roast beef sandwich!

Throughout the cruise, Solarium Bistro is a vastly underrated complimentary restaurant that rarely gets crowds because many people are completely unaware it exists, or what it offers. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Do find the hidden spots

A cruise ship as big as Symphony of the Seas has some great hidden spots, so be sure to note them all before you get onboard.

My favorite hidden spot on Symphony of the Seas is the chairs on jogging deck on the back of the ship. These chairs offer a great view of the ocean passing by, and are a great place to relax on a sea day.

Refer to this Symphony of the Seas secrets page, so you do not miss any of them.

Do explore the ship early

Since Symphony is so large, you will want to get your bearings early.

The size of the ship does not mean it is difficult to get around.  In fact, Royal Caribbean designed the ship to be easy to navigate, but you should try to get a sense of where everything is as early as you can.

After you get something to eat on embarkation day, it is a good idea to start exploring the ship.  There are seven neighborhoods to Symphony of the Seas, so try to walk around and see where the major areas and activities are located.

A common mistake made by first-timers is they do not realize a certain activity or area was on the ship until it was too late.

Do stay onboard on a port stop

Spoiler alert: You cannot see and do everything on Symphony of the Seas in just one 7-night cruise.

You might consider skipping a port stop at one point and staying onboard to explore the ship instead. Many activities are open on Symphony of the Seas while the ship is docked in a port, and you will find significantly less crowds onboard.

Staying on your ship while in port means very short lines for water slides, the FlowRider, pools and more. It almost feels like you have the ship to yourself! 

More: 10 free activities on Symphony of the Seas

Don't miss the ice skating and AquaTheater shows

I know what you are thinking, "Do I really want to see an ice skating show?" or "What the heck is an aqua show?", but they are must-sees!

Royal Caribbean takes pride in its entertainment, and the shows offered in Studio B and the AquaTheater are top-notch and worthy of being in a Las Vegas hotel.

The performers are highly trained and talented folks from all over the world, that audition for the opportunity to be featured in a Royal Caribbean production.

Symphony of the Seas has a number of great shows to see including:

  • 1977 ice skating show in Studio B
  • Hairspray the full Broadway musical in the Royal Theater
  • HiRO aqua show in the AquaTheater
  • Flight: Dare to Dream introduces cutting-edge 3D flying technology, video and automation in the Royal Theater

Do go to Johnny Rockets for a free breakfast

One of my favorite tips for any Oasis Class ship is to go to Johnny Rockets for breakfast.

Johnny Rockets has a cover charge for lunch and dinner, but it is complimentary for breakfast and serves up the kind of traditional American breakfast items most guests love.

The best reason to dine at Johnny Rockets for breakfast is that it is totally free and rarely crowded. Most guests are unaware it is open for breakfast, nor that it costs nothing.

Do check out the interactive art

Royal Caribbean ships are known for their art collections, and Symphony of the Seas features interactive art that is more than just a painting or sculpture.

  • Paradox Void (Gregor Kregar, New Zealand) – Upon boarding the ship on the Royal Promenade, guests are welcomed by a monumental, kaleidoscopic maze of mirrors and colored lights. This 20-foot-tall, three-ton sculpture is made of 1,200 mirrored stainless-steel triangles and 200 sections of LED light strips. The piece invites travelers to interact with it via seating elements incorporated inside of the actual sculpture.
    *Location: deck 5, forward
  • Sound Shell (Daniel Canogar, Spain) – Inspired by the spiraling shape of a seashell, this LED, interactive sculpture activates when a guest steps into the shell for an intimate, rich audiovisual experience composed of unique soundscapes and soothing light therapy.
    *Location: deck 6, aft
  • Drier-Wig (dEmo, Spain) – One of the best photo-ops on board, the out-of-the-ordinary, motion-activated purple wig emits music when guests step beneath to wear it “on” their heads.
    *Location: deck 6, starboard

Don't be scared to ride the Ultimate Abyss

The Ultimate Abyss is that giant purple slide on the back of the ship that looks like something only daredevils would enjoy, but it is far more tame than you might imagine.

Towering 150 feet above sea level, it is a dry slide that sends guest plummeting down a 100 foot drop, but not all at once.  There are a lot of twists and turns that greatly reduce the speed going down.

Not only is the Ultimate Abyss a lot of fun (and free) to ride, it is not nearly as scary as it looks, so give it a shot!

Do visit the Big Wonder at night

Located in the Solarium on deck 15 forward, the Big Wonder is a beautiful work of art, and the perfect backdrop for a cocktail or two.

While the Solarium Bar is open in the day and evening, be sure stop by after the sun goes down because the entire structure is lit up at night and becomes even more impressive.

It is a great spot for taking photos with the 2,594 square feet structure in the background, or the focus of your photo as you share with friends and family back home.

Don't miss the specialty restaurants

While there is no shortage of great complimentary food on Symphony of the Seas, you really ought to consider a meal or two at one of the specialty restaurants.

Symphony of the Seas is jam-packed with some of the best specialty restaurants across the fleet.

One of my absolute favorite restaurants is Izumi, which features the Hibachi option that never disappoints.  Teppan-style dining is always a hit with families.

Hooked Seafood is another relatively new restaurant for Royal Caribbean, and features a robust raw bar.

Central Park is home to three different signature restaurants: Chops Grille, 150 Central Park & Jamie's Italian.  Each are excellent choices for a night out!

Save these Symphony of the Seas tips!

Did you find these tips helpful? 

Be sure to save these tips for your future reference by bookmarking this page, or you can pin the image below to Pinterest!

 

Royal Caribbean testing onboard food delivery on Symphony of the Seas

In:
15Oct2019

Royal Caribbean is testing out a new feature of its smartphone app that allows guests to order food from specialty restaurants via its smart phone app.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Preston shared details of the new app feature, which provided guests the option to order food items from restaurants such as Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, Izumi sushi or Johnny Rockets. Food items that do not have a fixed price, such as Johnny Rockets, cost anywhere from $3-$7 and a large pizza from Sorrentos costs $5.

Guests can choose to have the food delivered to their stateroom, or anywhere on the ship. If stateroom is selected, the room number is pre-selected by the app based on the guest's reservation. 

Alternatively, guests can have food delivered to them by selecting what deck they are on, and then drag and dropping a pin on a map to indicate where you are located on that deck. There are some no-delivery zones, like pools, waterslide lines, theaters, and other restaurants. 

Once the food is ordered, the server locates you based on the pinpoint and delivers the food as soon as it is ready. Thanks to Mark for doing "research" for us!

 

Many thanks to Mark and Danna for providing screenshots and "field testing" this new feature!

Symphony of the Seas changes itinerary to avoid Tropical Storm Karen

In:
23Sep2019

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas cruise ship has changed itineraries to avoid the path of Tropical Storm Karen.

Guests sailing onboard Symphony of the Seas have been informed of a change in their sailing that will skip scheduled stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten and insyead visit Cozumel and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Thanks to @FmtTony for providing this photo

Symphony of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas have now had their itinerary changed to avoid Tropical Storm Karen.

Tropical Storm Dorian changes itineraries of Allure, Harmony and Symphony of the Seas

In:
25Aug2019

Tropical Storm Dorian formed in the Caribbean in the last few days and has caused two Royal Caribbean ships to change itineraries to avoid the projected path of the storm.

Harmony of the Seas has changed from an Eastern Caribbean itinerary to a Western Caribbean itinerary.

Symphony of the Seas has changed her itinerary and is skipping a scheduled stop at St. Maarten, while adding a visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay at the end of the sailing.

Allure of the Seas has changed from an Eastern Caribbean itinerary to a Western Caribbean itinerary.

Photo by Joe Kuehner Jr

We will share any further itinerary updates if/when they occur.

As of Sunday afternoon, Dorian’s tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 35 miles from its center. Forecasters said that Dorian is expected to move generally west-northwestward for the next several days and start impacting some Caribbean islands.

We recommend following Royal Caribbean's Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet for weather updates.

Video: Symphony of the Seas secrets

In:
12Feb2019

Hey, friends! We’re back with another RoyalCaribbeanBlog Video to kick off the week, and we are sharing our favorite hidden secrets about Symphony of the Seas!

Symphony of the Seas is incredible, and we scoured the ship to find (and now share) little known secrets… from spots to underwater speakers to unique entertainment, and SO much more. 

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

If you have cruised on Symphony of the Seas, what is your favorite secret about the ship? Share your ideas in our comments!

Fun facts about Symphony of the Seas

In:
11Feb2019

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas offers guests quite a bit to see and do onboard, and the ship itself is a marvel, when you consider just how large it is and how much work and coordination is required to make it run flawlessly. Here are some fun facts about Symphony of the Seas that put into perspective the sheer scale of everything on this ship.

Fast Facts

  • At 1,188 feet long, Symphony is twice as high as the Washington Monument
  • Weighs 228,081 gross registered tons (GRT), which is more than 17,000 African elephants
  • Symphony is made up of 500,000 individual parts
  • 5,518 guests (double occupancy) and 2,200 crew representing more than 70 different nationalities
  • 18 total decks (16 guest decks)
  • 2,759 staterooms, including 188 suites and 28 more balconies than the next largest ship in the fleet (Harmony of the Seas)
  • Approximately 5,200 restaurant seats across 23 dining venues
  • 7 distinct neighborhoods: Boardwalk, Central Park, Entertainment Place, Pool and Sports Zone, Youth Zone, Royal Promenade, Vitality Spa and Fitness Center
  • Symphony’s Central Park has more than 20,700 lush tropical plants
  • 25 pools, whirlpools, FlowRider surf simulators and waterslides are on board

Food

  • 12 specialty restaurants with more than 350 different dishes served daily, including more than 40 created specifically with kids in mind
  • More than 200 candies at Sugar Beach sweets and ice cream shop on the reimagined Boardwalk
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade lets guests cheer on their home team at sea across any one of 31 big-screen TVs and play out their competitive spirit at the arcade
  • The Bionic Bar can serve up to 1,000 drinks per day with 21 mixers and 30 spirits from 2 robot bartenders
  • 42 bars and lounges where bartenders can mix and mingle 124 specialty cocktails, including 195 spirits
  • There are more than 120 different kinds of fruit and vegetables served weekly
  • On a typical 7-night cruise, an average of 32,000 lbs. of tortillas 15,000 lbs. of beef, 9,700 lbs. of chicken, 5,000 dozen fresh eggs, 100 gallons of ice cream, 2,100 lbs. of lobster tail and 2,500 lbs. of fresh salmon are used on board
  • 1,500 lbs. of coffee are made weekly – that’s 6 million coffee beans
  • There are 1,085 culinary staff of 51 different nationalities

Activities & Things To Do

  • The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, is a duo of racing slides where adventure-seekers spiral down a 92-foot drop in about 13 seconds
  • The slide is 10 stories high, towering 150 feet above sea level (45.7 meters)
  • About 300 LED lights shine overhead in the slide, adding to the thrill factor
  • The zipline crosses the open-air Boardwalk neighborhood at nine decks high
  • 2 signature rock-climbing walls flank the AquaTheater, standing at 43 feet tall (13.1 meters)

Art

  • The signature, high-tech Royal Theater seats more than 1,400 guests
  • New, original production “Flight: Dare to Dream” includes an impressive replica of the historic Wright Brothers plane with a 22-foot wingspan and the first replica of the International Space Station used on stage
  • The AquaTheater has a secret level, deck 4.5, where performers and divers access the depths of the theater; those same high-diving acrobats use two 10-meter, Olympic-height diving boards
  • More than 13,347 pieces of artwork on board, including Paradox Void, a 3-ton steel sculpture with 2,100 mirrors and 200 LED lights that interact with its surroundings, and Big Wonder, a color-changing art installation that spans 2,594 square feet in the adults-only Solarium

Ultimate Family Suite

  • 1 Ultimate Family Suite (room 1733) spanning two decks at 1,346 square feet
  • The suite accommodates up to eight guests across two bedrooms and living room
  • A Royal Genie, the ultimate insider to surprise and delight guests during their cruise vacation
  • An in-suite slide, where even the biggest of kids can slide from the top floor
  • Private cinema room with a 85-inch 4K Ultra HD TV with movie streaming, a popcorn machine and the latest gaming consoles – Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch, PS4 Pro
  • Complete with air hockey table, a building block wall, table tennis on the balcony, and Luckey Climber kid’s vertical maze

Video: Symphony of the Seas’ HiRo Raises the Bar

In:
06Feb2019

HiRo, Royal Caribbean’s newest aqua show, features more high-flying feats, unexpected stunts and extraordinary acrobatics than ever before. Brought to life by the world’s best extreme-sport athletes, HiRo pushes the limits of a theatrical production with cutting-edge technology and choreography. With 3D flying technology used by aerialists as they literally soar above the crowd, plus acrobats and professional divers no two shows are the same, making it worth seeing twice.

Video: It’s Showtime All the Time on Symphony of the Seas

In:
08Jan2019

Royal Caribbean continues to push the boundaries in entertainment with the debut of cutting-edge productions on stage, in the air, under water and on ice on board Symphony of the Seas.

Category 2J Central Park View Balcony Stateroom on Symphony of the Seas Photo Tour

In:
05Jan2019

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas has a lot to offer, including a number of staterooms.  Today, we will look at the category 2J Central Park View Balcony Stateroom, which will take you through the cabin to provide an idea of what to expect if you book this category stateroom.

Central Park Balcony staterooms have two twin beds that convert to a Royal King, a Central Park view balcony, a sitting area, and a private bathroom. These rooms are designed to accommodate up to two guests.

A Central Park balcony offers 187 square feet of living space. The room also has a rather large sofa to sit on during the day.

Being a Central Park Balcony stateroom, you have a private balcony that offers views of the Central Park neighborhood on Symphony of the Seas.

Symphony of the Seas family cruising guide

In:
31Dec2018

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas offers a lot for families to enjoy on their Caribbean cruise vacations. When we took our daughters on Symphony of the Seas, we sought to enjoy the very best activities, entertainment and things to do for a family. 

If you have never been on an Oasis Class ship, these are incredible vessels that pack as much into a cruise vacation as any ship in the world.  In fact, it is the largest cruise ship in the world and that means plenty to choose from onboard.  Family cruising on Symphony of the Seas means there is something for everyone and always something else to do or see, regardless of your age. 

Signature Activities

Prior to booking Symphony of the Seas, you may notice certain offerings onboard prominently advertised.  Royal Caribbean has built a reputation for itself by offering some of the best things to do onboard its ships.

A few activities and shows stand out as the premiere options that Symphony is well-known for.  The good news is that many of the activities are available to children of many ages. Some of the physical activities may have a height requirement that are best suited for children who are older elementary-school aged children or older. If your kids do not meet the height requirements, there is no need to worry as there is still plenty of other options to enjoy.

Families can enjoy these wonderful activities together:

  • The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, is a duo of racing slides where guests spiral down a 92-foot drop in about 13 seconds
  • The zipline crosses the open-air Boardwalk neighborhood at nine decks high
  • Two FlowRider surf simulators
  • Perfect Storm: three waterslides
  • Splashaway Bay aquatic adventure park
  • Escape from Planet Z laser tag
  • Escape room

Adventure Ocean

The heart of children's programming on Symphony of the Seas is Royal Caribbean's award-winning Adventure Ocean program.  

Adventure Ocean is divided into three age-appropriate groups

  • Aquanauts (ages 3 to 5)
  • Explorers (ages 6 to 8)
  • Voyagers (ages 9 to 11)

Adventure Ocean is complimentary, but kids need to be registered with Adventure Ocean and fully toilet trained to take part in activities. There are dedicated spaces for each age group, plus specialized areas like science labs and a theater for enhanced programming.  

Adventure Ocean is open most of the day, but their hours vary depending on if it is a port day or sea day.  On Sea days, Adventure Ocean can open as early as 6:30am.  Guests that have Royal Caribbean excursions booked and need to drop their children off earlier, can arrange with Adventure Ocean for that benefit.  For lunch, kids are brought to Wipe Out Cafe or Windjammer between noon and 1pm, and then again to the Windjammer for dinner between 5pm and 7pm. Adventure Ocean programming is included with your cruise fare.

Adventure Ocean closes at 10pm, but parents can leave their children with Adventure Ocean until 2am for an hourly fee.  The Late Night Party Zone runs from 10pm to 2am in Adventure Ocean, and is billed at $7 per hour, per child for children who remain after 10pm.

Tweens and teenagers also have their own club, plus a variety of activities onboard such as the FlowRider surf simulator, rock climbing walls, an ice skating rink, a mini-golf course and a zip line. Teens meet at the Living Room, on Deck 15 aft and also have exclusive access to their own night club, known as Fuel on deck 15. Teens are free to come and go as they want, and curfew for all cruisers younger than 18 is 1 a.m. unless they're supervised by a parent.

Royal Babies & Tots Nursery

Any parent with a toddler or infant will find the Royal Babies & Tots Nursery an absolute blessing.  Royal Caribbean offers a nursery for children up to 36 months old.

At the nursery, you can drop off infants and toddlers off in a supervised environment, where the kids can watch TV, play with other children, explore and nap.   

The nursery will offer parents a drop-off option in the daytime and evening, while always maintaining an optimum staff-to-child ratio.

For a modest fee per hour ($8 at the time of this blog post), parents can reserve time for their kids here to give parents some time alone to enjoy what Royal Caribbean offers or explore a port.

The nursery staff are trained child care professionals and they will make sure your child is taken care of in the time they are there.  Parents also get a special mobile phone to use on the ship in case the nursery needs to call them or if the parents want to call and check in on things.

Entertainment & Shows

Symphony of the Seas offers shows that appeal to kids and adults, with its evening shows being real highlights. Depending on your kids ages and preferences, these shows may or may not be of interest to them, but Royal Caribbean designs its evening entertainment shows to be open to be family friendly.

You will find Symphony of the Seas' biggest shows across three venues: The Royal Theater, Studio B and the AquaTheater.

Here are the must-see shows on Symphony of the Seas and where to see each show:

  • Hairspray (Royal Theater)
  • 1977 (Studio B)
  • HiRo (AquaTheater)
  • Flight (Royal Theater)

Prior to your cruise, be sure to make reservations for each of these shows via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.  Reservations for these shows are complimentary and while it does not guarantee a specific seat, it will ensure you will be able to get into the show.  Guests without a reservation can wait in a standby line and take up any remaining seats, but it is simpler (and a whole lot easier for families) to make reservations before the cruise.

If you are wondering when you can make reservations for shows on Symphony of the Seas, it really depends.  If entertainment is available to reserve for your cruise, we have typically seen shows become available for booking around 75-60 days prior to the sail date, but your experience may vary.

Dining

Symphony of the Seas offers 23 dining venues for guests to choose between when eating onboard. Some of these restaurants are included with your cruise fare, while others have an additional cost.

Complimentary dining options are included with your cruise fare and guests can enjoy as much food as they like from these locations.  There is at least one complimentary option open at anytime during the day or night, with often quite a number of great choices. 

The alternative dining option are specialty dining, in which there is an additional cost to dine there.  Specialty dining costs can come in the form of cover charges (pay one fee and get all the food included) or a la carte charges (pay for only what you order). In general, specialty dining offers food and cooking styles not available elsewhere on the ship for guests that choose to indulge in them.

If you are looking for great choices for kids to grab something quickly, you will find some great options throughout the day for families at:

  • Windjammer
  • Park Cafe
  • Sorrento's Pizzeria
  • El Loco Fresh
  • Johnny Rockets (breakfast is complimentary, cover charge for lunch and dinner)
  • Boardwalk Dog House
  • Room service ($7.95 per order fee, complimentary for suite guests)

When it comes to dinner, you might want to look into My Family Time Dining. My Family Time Dining is offered in the first seating time in the main dining room for children ages three to eleven.

Here is how it works

  1. You arrive at the dining room with the kids and let your server know that the kids will be headed to Adventure Ocean as part of the My Family Time Dining program.
  2. The kids order and are served right away so that they can finish their meal within the first 40 minutes.
  3. After about 45 minutes, the Adventure Ocean staff arrive in the dining room lobby to sign in and hand off the kids.Parents will need to escort their children to the designated Main Dining room entrance doors at 6:45 pm to check their child in with the Adventure Ocean counselors. Once checked­in, the Adventure Ocean counselors will then escort their children to Adventure Ocean for ongoing evening activities.
  4. Adults return to their table to enjoy the rest of their meal at a more leisurely place.

Prior to the cruise, you can can contact Royal Caribbean or travel agent to book it. Alternatively, guests can sign up onboard in the Adventure Ocean area. Pre­-cruise reservations are encouraged.

Staterooms

When booking a Symphony of the Seas cruise, you will need to find the right stateroom for your family. Symphony has staterooms that can accommodate three and four passengers easily, along with some stateroom configurations that can handle even more guests.

Depending on your family size, age of your children, and your comfort level, booking multiple staterooms can often be the same or cheaper than booking a large room.  Multiple rooms provides not only additional living space, but extra restrooms and separation from parents and children. Royal Caribbean does offer some rooms with a connecting inside door between rooms.  

If you are cruising with young children, you should pack your own diapers, bottles, and other supplies.  There is milk available to all guests without an additional charge (skim or regular).  Some parents prefer to bring their own kid-friendly snacks and food, which is permissible by Royal Caribbean. Refer to our Taking an Infant on a Royal Caribbean cruise article for more information.

More cruising with kids info

You may have additional questions about cruising with kids on Royal Caribbean, or simply would like to learn more tips and advice.  Here are some good resources to consider:

Your thoughts

Now that you have read over our guide to taking kids on Symphony of the Seas, let's hear from other parents. What tips do you parents think are most important? Which advice we shared do you agree with? Where do you disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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