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Royal Caribbean cruise ship will experiment with new alternative fuel this summer

06 Jun 2023

Royal Caribbean is leaning into the future of cruise ship with a new type of fuel the company test out on one of its ships.

Symphony of the Seas docked

Becoming a sustainable company has been an established goal, and it appears trying out a new type of fuel could assist in getting them to that point.

Later this summer, Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Apex will begin operating with a sustainable biofuel. Both ships will be sailing in Europe at the time the test begins.

Designed to attract families that enjoy a mega-resort, the 228,081-ton Symphony of the Seas is the fourth ship in Royal Caribbean's groundbreaking Oasis Class series. 

Celebrity Apex in Greece

Celebrity Apex, the second ship in Celebrity's Edge Class, is a 130,818-ton, 2,900-passenger cruise ship and one of Celebrity's newest ships.

The goal is to evaluate how well the fuel works, and "contribute critical data and research on the fuel's capabilities and supply chain infrastructure needed to further the industry's alternative fuel ambitions."

Powered by biofuel

Biofuel factory

Simply put, the new biofuel's goal is to reduce a cruise ship's carbon emissions.

The biofuel blend is produced by purifying renewable raw materials like oils and fats and combining it with fuel oil.

Biofuel greatly reduces carbon emissions compared to the burning of the fossil fuels used in marine gas oil. It's processed through an oil refinery and is molecularly identical to diesel. 

Symphony of the Seas sailing away

The end result is an alternative fuel that the company hopes is cleaner and more sustainable.

Symphony of the Seas will undergo a three-month test with the new fuel while the ship sails from Barcelona, Spain.

Symphony, however, is not the first Royal Caribbean ship to be powered by biofuel.

Navigator of the Seas in Miami

Last fall, Navigator of the Seas tested out biofuel when she sailed from Los Angeles, California and became the first a cruise ship to sail from a U.S. port while using renewable diesel fuel.

The test on Navigator was conducted on a three-night cruise to Ensenada, Mexico in October 2022 with one engine powered by 30 tons of biodiesel.  

The test lasted three months.

In the case of Navigator, the biofuel was a combination of waste vegetable and frying oils, animal fat and corn. 

Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty talked about the importance of such a step in the evolution for the industry, "Biofuels will play an increasingly important role in achieving, not only our own, but the entire maritime sector's decarbonization goals in the short and medium term."

"We take great pride in continuing to push our industry forward in exploring innovative fuel solutions that reduce carbon impact and preserve the vibrancy of the oceans we sail."

Building on efficiency

Symphony of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas is an intriguing test case for Royal Caribbean. As the second largest cruise ship in the world, she is indicative of what cruise ships today are realistically all about.

Even before this test, Symphony was built to be more efficient than previous ships.

Symphony consumes 25% less fuel than Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas.

Symphony of the Seas at night

Plus, the ship had a few ways to improve energy efficiency onboard compared to earlier Oasis Class ships.

One major change was the use of tiny air bubbles under the hull to make the vessel glide more smoothly through the water. 

What happens next?

Overhead view of Oasis Class ship

After the trials are completed this summer, Royal Caribbean Group plans to scale up the use of alternative fuels, including biofuels, across upcoming European summer sailings.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean Group said it plans to continue to use alternative lower carbon fuel as part of its overall plan.

In addition to biofuels, Royal Caribbean Group is building ships that can leverage liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to reduce emissions.

LNG tanks

Commonly referred to as a transition fuel, LNG results in 95% fewer particulate matter emissions, nearly eliminates sulfur emissions and reduces nitrogen emissions by 85%, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20%.

LNG isn't the ultimate solution, but a step in the journey.

Sustainable by 2050

Destination Net Zero

Royal Caribbean Group calls its overarching sustainability goals "Destination Net Zero", and biofuels are one way it intends to get there. 

Announced in 2021, there are two simple goals:

  • Delivery of a net zero emissions cruise ship
  • A path to net zero emissions by 2050

Destination Net Zero's four-pronged approach includes:

  1. Modernization of the cruise company's global brands fleet through the introduction of 13 new energy-efficient and alternatively fueled vessels.
  2. Continued investment in energy efficiency programs for its fleet, including energy saving technologies, enhanced data systems and digitalization.
  3. Development of alternative fuel and alternative power solutions.
  4. Optimized deployment and integration of strategic shore-based supply chains.

Supplying the fun: Symphony of the Seas cruise review

02 May 2023

What does trying out one of the biggest cruise ships in the world get that you might not get on a smaller ship?


With about 40% of Americans planning to travel at least once in 2023, they are some key things that you will take into consideration prior to making the final decision. These include budget, activities, and total value for your money. Nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money on a trip that they do not enjoy!

I knew that I wanted to take a cruise in early 2023, and I decided on a 7-night cruise onboard Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas. As a solo traveler, I paid $1,393.20 for the cruise fare and gratuities, which breaks down to just about $200 per night. While not the cheapest cruise vacation, I wanted to experience what the second largest cruise ship in the world had to offer.

I am no stranger to Oasis Class ships. In fact, this was my fifth time sailing on one. They are my favorite class of ship, so I was hoping to see if Symphony of the Seas lived up to my expectations. 

Besides the sheer size of the 228,081 gross registered ton vessel, here are some more reasons why I loved sailing onboard Symphony of the Seas. 

Why book Symphony of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas is filled with seemingly endless dining options and activity choices, making it an ideal vacation for just anyone looking for a mega ship vacation-- it does not matter if you are a young couple or multigenerational family. 

While not the newest Oasis Class ship, Symphony of the Seas proves that Royal Caribbean is constantly striving to improve and make the best even better! She debuted in 2018 as the largest cruise ship in the world and has some key differences that set her apart from her younger counterparts. 

The 6,680 passenger capacity ship, for instance, was the first Oasis Class ship to replace Sabor on the Boardwalk with Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade. 

Burger at Playmakers

Additionally, it was the first ship in the entire fleet to receive Hooked Seafood, a specialty restaurant that serves up fresh New England-style seafood for a nominal fee. 

Of course, thanks to Royal Caribbean's Royal Amplification program, these venues can now be found on other Oasis Class ships, too. 

Since she is no longer the largest cruise ship, vacations onboard Symphony of the Seas are often cheaper than those on Wonder of the Seas, the ship that current holds the title until Icon of the Seas' launch in January 2024!


Plus, between May 2023 and April 2025, there are a wide variety of different itineraries to choose from, ranging from short 3- and 4-night cruises out of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, to 7-night cruises to Florida and the Bahamas from Cape Liberty (Bayonne), and 7-night Western Mediterranean cruises. 

Refreshed adults-only Solarium


I am 23-years-old with no children, so when I cruise, I like to be able to have a space to retreat from families. Not only is the Solarium a child-free place, but it is aesthetically a nice place to be. 

Unique to Symphony of the Seas is a one-of-a-kind art installation that is comprised of thousands of dichroic acrylic elements. You will not believe how beautiful it is at night!

Unlike on Harmony of the Seas, which I sailed on back in 2018, I did not have to leave the Solarium to take a dip in the pool. That was a major plus for me! In essence, I never had to spend time on the regular pool deck. Unless, that is, I wanted to take advantage of the other amenities, such as the Perfect Storm waterslides.  

And while all Oasis Class ships have a Solarium Bistro onboard, I found the one on Symphony of the Seas to be particularly nicer. The two-story space shares the top floor with the specialty restaurant Hooked Seafood. It has a much more refined feel, despite the fact that children can technically eat there, and I preferred it over the Windjammer Marketplace!

Unique entertainment options

HiRO SOTS Aquatheatre

Royal Caribbean is known for their entertainment options onboard their cruise ships, particularly their newer ones. In total, Symphony of the Seas has four main shows: Hairspray, HiRO, 1977, and Flight: Dare to Dream.

Of course, there's also live music, comedy shows, and more. There was never a moment that I was bored during my cruise. In fact, I found trying to squeeze everything in to be a bit overwhelming (totally worth it, though!). 

I was a bit disappointed to find out that Hairspray was not a full-length Broadway-style production. That being said, the 90-minute show was my favorite! I had previously seen it onboard Oasis of the Seas in 2014 and remember it being hilarious, especially the cast's ability to improv with the technical difficulties.


Thankfully, there were not any issues during this show, but the cast still had an unmatchable energy; it was evident that they loved what they did. 

The best piece of advice I can offer when it comes to shows is to make reservations for all of your "must-sees" as early as possible, especially the AquaTheatre show. You never know if later productions will have to be cancelled due to unfavorable sailing conditions. 

More complimentary dining


I am a huge foodie, and going out to eat with friends and family is one of my favorite things to do! Knowing that, you can imagine that the dining options onboard a cruise are important to me. 

I do not mind splurging on specialty restaurants every now and then, but one way I like to make sure that I get my money's worth on any cruise vacation is by eating as much complimentary food as possible. 

In the past, I have been disappointed with the lack of complimentary dining options onboard Royal Caribbean ships. Thanks to the Royal Amplification program, though, many ships have begun to get more options, following in the footsteps of Oasis Class ships. 


Between the Main Dining Room, Park Cafe, El Loco Fresh, Solarium Bistro, Boardwalk Dog House, Sorrento’s Pizza, Windjammer Marketplace, and Cafe Promenade, I found it easy to rotate between dining options and never get tired of anything. 

El Loco Fresh was my favorite quick-service spot, as I loved being able to build my own tacos and nachos! The array of hot sauces and salsas was great, too. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of sailing on Symphony of the Seas?

Symphony of the Seas in Miami

Advantage: Tons to see and do

Deck view of Symphony of the Seas

As I previously mentioned, I was never bored during my cruise. Aside from the numerous entertainment options, there were other onboard activities that I wanted to cross off my list, including zip lining, mini-golf, sliding down the Ultimate Abyss, relaxing in Central Park, and more.

In fact, I did not even the chance to try everything out, which makes Symphony of the Seas is a great vacation option for those who constantly like to being thinking about what is next!

Disadvantage: Limited ports of call


I have been on ten cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean throughout my life, meaning that I have visited many of the same ports over and over and over again. The repetition did not really bother me when I was younger; I was glad to be on a vacation! 

Now, however, I am more focused on cruises with different itineraries. In June, I am going on my first-ever Europe and Mexican Riviera cruises, and I could not be more excited! Every single port of call will be a new place for me.

Due to the size of Symphony of the Seas, it is harder (nay, impossible) for the ship to be able to sail to certain places. You will not, for instance, ever find the ship in Alaska! 


Ocean View cabin on Anthem of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas has cabins available for all budgets and travel preferences, from affordable interior cabins to the lavish two-story Ultimate Family Suite

RelatedThe 5 best cabin locations on a cruise ship

Inside cabins


When I sailed on Symphony of the Seas, I stayed in an interior stateroom. While this meant that I did not have any access to natural sunlight, I was able to spend money on other experiences to enhance my overall experience, such as a shore excursion in St. Maarten and lunch at Izumi. 

Most inside cabins are somewhere between 150 and 260 square feet, with the latter being the Family Interior Stateroom that can accommodate up to six guests. 

The cheapest option will be a standard inside room; however, you can also select a virtual balcony stateroom or one with a window that overlooks the interior of the ship, whether that be the Boardwalk, Central Park, or Royal Promenade. 

Ocean view

Ocean view staterooms are a great option for those who want to be able to see outside but who do not necessarily want to pay for a balcony. Like with inside cabins, the largest of these rooms are categorized as "Ultra-Spacious Oceanview" rooms and are 270 square feet. In comparison, the smallest are around 180 square feet. 


When booking a balcony stateroom on any Oasis Class ship, it is important to pay attention to what category you are looking at, as there are balconies that overlook Central Park, the Boardwalk, and ocean.

Naturally, the latter will be the most expensive. Plus, at 55 square feet, their balconies are more spacious than the 50 square foot balconies that accompany Central Park and Boardwalk balcony rooms. 

In terms of the inside square footage, however, all standard balcony rooms are around 180 square feet. 


Junior Suite on Symphony of the Seas

Suites onboard Symphony of the Seas are divided into three categories that comprise what is known as the Royal Suite Class: Star Class, Sky Class and Sea Class. Suites in the first two categories come with more perks than Junior Suites, the only suite in the Sea Class. 

In total, there are eleven different types of suites to choose from: Junior Suites, one- and two-bedroom Grand Suites, Owner's Suites, one- and two-bedroom AquaTheatre Suites, Crown Loft Suites, Star Loft Suites, as well as a single Royal Loft Suite, Villa Suite, and Ultimate Family Suite. 



Symphony of the Seas main dining room

There are ten complimentary dining options available to all guests on the ship, regardless of stateroom:

  • Main Dining Room
  • Windjammer Marketplace
  • Solarium Bistro
  • Park Cafe
  • Cafe Promenade 
  • Sorrento's
  • Boardwalk Dog House
  • El Loco Fresh
  • Vitality Cafe
  • Room Service (note that outside of the continental breakfast, there is a $7.95 delivery surcharge). 

Those staying in suites can access Coastal Kitchen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; however, Junior Suite guests can only dine here during dinner. 


Playmakers SOTS

Specialty restaurants offer a more intimate dining experience compared to complimentary options. They, of course, come with an additional surcharge and are not included in the base price of your cruise. Regardless, they are a great way to make your vacation a little more special:

  • Chops Grille
  • Jaime's Italian
  • Wonderland
  • Izumi Hibachi and Sushi
  • Hooked Seafood
  • 150 Central Park
  • Vintages Wine Bar
  • Playmakers
  • Johnny Rockets
  • Starbucks

Things to do

Symphony of the Seas zip line view

There's genuinely no shortage of things to do onboard Symphony of the Seas. During the day, you can relax by one of five pools, hang ten on one of two FlowRider surf simulators, zip line  above the Boardwalk, play a round of mini-golf or see what game is being played in the Sports Court, or ride down the Ultimate Abyss slide or Perfect Storm waterslide trio. 

Even if you do not want to cool off in the pool, the pool deck is home to many events that you may want to watch, such as the belly flop competition, scuba classes, poolside bingo, and more. It is important to check your Cruise Compass daily to make sure that you do not miss anything!

aft chairs

In addition to the fifteen bars and lounges on the ship, there are so many different entertainment options that will keep your evenings booked solid! From the Broadway-style musical Hairspray, to HiRO, 1977, and the Royal Caribbean Productions original Flight: Dare to Dream.

Children and teens will love Royal Caribbean's award-winning youth programming, whether that be Adventure Ocean for those up to 12-years-old or their teen-exclusive lounges.

I saved $100 by letting Royal Caribbean choose my cruise ship cabin location, and I would let them do it again

21 Feb 2023

On my recent Symphony of the Seas cruise, I decided to book a guarantee cabin and let Royal Caribbean assign my stateroom closer to the sail date. I saved $100 by doing so and would let them choose my cabin again in the future! 


I booked an interior guarantee for less than choosing my stateroom at the time of booking. When I received my cabin assignment, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I got an accessible interior cabin, which meant that my cabin for my cruise was going to be much larger than a traditional interior stateroom. 

Here's why I'll choose to save my money next time and book another guarantee cabin.

What does it mean to book a guarantee cabin?


Guarantee staterooms are cheaper cabin options offered by Royal Caribbean (and most other cruise lines) in exchange for allowing them to assign your stateroom closer to the sail date. In other words, when you book your cruise vacation, you will not have the exact room assignment until later on, as you won't get to choose your cabin.  

Additionally, Royal Caribbean states that you will receive the stateroom category you booked or higher. There is always a slim chance that you could receive an upgrade. If, for instance, you booked an interior, you may find that you got an upgrade to an ocean view cabin. However, as cruises are booking up further in advance and sailing at full capacity nowadays, it is unlikely that this will happen. You should not book a guarantee cabin expecting an upgrade!

The purpose of guarantee cabins is to help fill in the gaps of unsold staterooms-- some rooms are less likely to get booked. 

I did not mind taking the chance of getting a cabin in a less desired location. While that meant that I may have had to walk further to and from my cabin or deal with some noise from the casino, theatre, or nightclub, I knew that I would still be on the same ship as everybody else and enjoying the same amenities. I don't spend much time in my stateroom; I'm always exploring the ship, listening to live music, hanging out on the pool deck, or off in port. 

Cabin assignment

Royal Caribbean states that guarantee rooms will be assigned at some point between 5-30 days before the cruise. This means that you could potentially be one week from embarking on your cruise vacation without knowing where your stateroom is located yet. 

Most of the time, rooms are assigned a few weeks before the cruise. Sometimes, though, people have not received their stateroom until a day or two before sailing. These instances, however, are rare!

Additionally, you will not be notified when Royal Caribbean assigns your stateroom. You will have to continuously log into the cruise line's website to check.

I booked my stateroom after the final payment date and was assigned a room fairly quickly-- I had one within two weeks of booking, or about 1.5 months before the cruise sail date. To me, I was surprised that I was given an accessible cabin so early. There was ample time for another cruiser, one who truly needed the benefits of an accessible room, to book it!

I spent the time leading up to my cruise wondering if this meant that my stateroom could change again at the last minute. This never happened, and I spent my week onboard Symphony of the Seas enjoying my oversized stateroom. As a solo traveler, this felt like I was royalty! 

Stateroom #6189 impressions


Since I looked up my stateroom in advance, I knew that it was an accessible cabin. As mentioned earlier, I was confused as to why this was assigned to a solo traveler over one month before the cruise. I knew that the cruise was pretty booked, so this probably all that was left when I booked the cruise.


This is usually how guarantee cabins are assigned, anyway. Cruisers who are willing to pay to select their staterooms choose the ones in more desirable locations to be near their favorite amenities or closer to family and friends. Those that have yet to be booked are what guarantee cruisers are given. 

The guarantee process itself was straightforward. I was assigned my cabin in a timely manner and had no issues with the room. 

What I did not know, however, was just how large my stateroom was going to be. The room was 258 square feet, so it was over 100 square feet larger than traditional interior staterooms! 


While the square footage of the room was larger, there was not really much more storage space. It was outfitted with the same amenities as other standard cabins, including two closets, a dresser, vanity area, and three bathroom shelves.


The two primary difference that I noticed were that the nightstands were larger than the ones I had in my last interior room onboard Symphony of the Seas, and the bathroom sink did not have a long shelf underneath it. The bathroom counter, however, was wider. 


There was not a glass shower door, either, but that was to be expected in this category of stateroom. I was a fan of the oversized cruise shower; I did not accidentally hit my arm on the door or shower wall!

My largest issue with the stateroom was the automatic door. I either had to forcefully shut it or wait for it to close on its own and let people passing by peer into my room. There were switches that were supposed to toggle this function on and off, but neither myself nor my stateroom attendant could figure them out.


Overall, this was such a minor issue that I came to appreciate the mini-workout I got trying to close my door, and for people who are utilizing every function of an accessible room, this would be useful!

I loved how I actually saved money to end up with a specious cabin! It was a comfortable place to call home for the week. 

Cabin location


My stateroom was located on deck 6 midship, and honestly, it was probably the most centrally located stateroom I have ever stayed in! Midship staterooms are great because they are never a far walk from the elevator or stairs, meaning you can navigate the ship quicker.

If there is one thing I could have changed about this location, I think I would have preferred to have been on a higher deck to be located, quite literally, in the middle of the ship. The Windjammer Marketplace was all the way on deck 16, so that meant I had quite a ways to travel to reach the buffet for breakfast or lunch.

That being said, the forward elevator bank was close by, and I was a short walk to my morning coffee at Café Promenade each morning. Plus, returning from port meant I only had to walk up three or four flights of stairs, as I usually never take the elevator since it's so crowded; I enjoyed being able to quickly return to my stateroom! 

The one downside was that it got pretty noisy at night from the events in the Royal Promenade. To me, though, that is not a dealbreaker. I always assume that I'll hear something in my stateroom. I'd much rather it be a little bit of vibrations from the music below than the dragging of pool chairs early in the morning. 

Overall thoughts on booking a guarantee stateroom


Guarantee staterooms are not for everybody. Whenever I cruised with my parents, for instance, they loved to be able to pick two staterooms close to one another-- we often ended up in connecting balconies!

For myself, though, I don't mind saving the money and letting Royal Caribbean choose my cabin. I figure that I can use the extra cash to book other experiences that will enhance my cruise vacation, such as shore excursions or specialty dining.

I know that even if I end up in a location that requires more walking or is a little noisy, I will still enjoy my vacation. And walking on a cruise is never a bad thing, right? 

I got lucky with my cabin and location. Guarantee cabins are the luck of the draw, but I think playing the game of chance is worth it, especially if you end up with a cabin like mine! After staying in a larger stateroom, it will be difficult to return to the standard sized ones! 

Sometimes, the price difference between choosing your own cabin and booking a guarantee is negligible. In that instance, I would probably opt to select my own cabin somewhere on deck 8, as I love being located near Central Park! 

If you're prone to seasickness or really do have a preferred location (i.e., close to Central Park or the Main Dining Room), it may be best for you to pay the difference. Choosing the ideal stateroom and location is one easy way to make sure that you start your cruise vacation as seamlessly as possible! The savings won't be worth it to someone who would fell ill all night or be kept awake by the activities nearby. 

Top 10 Symphony of the Seas hidden secrets

21 Feb 2023

Like all Oasis Class ships, Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas offers passengers seemingly endless activities to choose from.

Symphony of the Seas docked

As the second largest cruise ship in the world (only behind Wonder of the Seas), it is hard not to love everything Symphony of the Seas has to offer. 

You can spend your day relaxing by one of four pools, ice skating, eating at one of 20 dining venues, zip lining across the Boardwalk, or taking advantage of Royal Caribbean's top-tier entertainment options. 

Night aerial photo Symphony of the Seas

With only so much time onboard, knowing the "hidden" features and amenities of a ship as large as Symphony of the Seas ahead of time will help you make the most of your vacation. Be sure to make a note of them all before you set sail!

The Big Wonder


Unique to Symphony of the Seas' Solarium is Big Wonder, a one-of-a-kind architecturally integrated installation that is comprised of thousands of dichroic acrylic elements. It spans an impressive 2,594 feet and arches over the Solarium Bar, making it a fun place to grab a drink. 

Big Wonder is the most beautiful at night when it is lit up with a combination of pink, blue, and green hues. 

There is plenty of comfortable seating located directly under the installation, making it a great place to grab a pre-dinner drink or meet up with friends throughout the day!

Piano staircase


If you are heading up to the Windjammer to grab a bite to eat, make sure that you get off on deck 15! You do not want to miss the piano staircase.

The piano staircase is located near the deck 15 aft elevator bank leading up to the Windjammer Marketplace on deck 16. 

The stairs plays musical tunes when stepped on, and guests will recognize popular classical melodies, like Beethoven's Bagatelle No. 25 ("Für Elise"), that are played by walking up and down them. It is entertaining for all ages! 

Deck 7 AquaTheatre viewing area 


If you were not able to score reservations for HiRO or would just like a more exclusive viewing area, walk back towards the AquaTheatre and head up the stairs to the rock climbing wall on deck 7. You can access these terraces via the interior hallways, too. 

While the above decks (8-14) are the coveted AquaTheatre suites, the outdoor area on deck 7 is open to everyone. The elevated perspective provides a unique view of the show! 

Even when there is not a show, it is a great place to soak in some ocean views that is less crowded than the pool deck or adults-only Solarium! 



The artwork onboard Symphony of the Seas is some of the most impressive onboard any Royal Caribbean ship; throughout the ship you can find over 13,300 contemporary works!

From Big Wonder in the Solarium to Paradox Void in the Royal Promenade, unique stairwell art, and the Main Dining Room's "painting" on deck 5, there is so much to see and appreciate onboard.

Plus, many of the pieces are interactive and more than just a painting or sculpture. On deck 6 near the Schooner Bar, for instance, there is the Sound Shell, an LED piece created by Daniel Canogar that activates unique soundscapes and soothing light therapy when someone steps in front of the shell.

When navigating the ship, pay extra attention to the art in each stairwell landing. You will find photography collections, paintings, collages, drawings, and more. 

Deep Divers


While you are moving about Symphony of the Seas, keep a lookout for the four whimsical diver sculptures, which make for a great photo opportunity! 

There is one driver located in Central Park who is peering through a glass arch down into the Royal Promenade below. The other three are scattered throughout the pool deck at the forward, midship, and aft of the vessel.

Hunting for the sculptures is a great way to explore two popular neighborhoods onboard the ship.

Running track alcoves


Even if you are not planning on walking or running on the jogging track on deck 5, you should still make your way out there at least once! 

There are two enclosed alcoves located off the running track towards the front of the ship. They are a great escape from the crowded pool deck and offer activities like shuffleboard and ping pong.

The ship may even schedule activities out there. The Hyperlink Program, for instance, has hosted a "Frat Table Games Tournament" at the ping pong tables. 

There is also comfortable seating available for those who want a quiet place to read a book, take a nap, or just enjoy the ocean views on a sea day!

Aft chairs on the running track

aft chairs

The impressive wake views are one of the best parts about sailing on an Oasis Class ship (or any ship for that matter). During the day, the top deck can be noisy with all the activities going on; it is not the ideal place to relax! Rather than trying to soak up wake views near the Ultimate Abyss and FlowRiders, you can do so from the rear of the running track on deck 5. 

There are a number of chairs and plush couches for those who either want to take a break from exercising or who purposely sought out this relatively quiet area. 

Hooked Seafood


Symphony of the Seas was the first ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet to receive Hooked Seafood. Today, it is only one of three ships to have the specialty restaurant onboard; the restaurant can also be found on Wonder of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas.

If you are a fan of fresh New England-style seafood, you will want to make sure that you get a reservation to dine at this specialty restaurant! They even serve oysters three different ways: Rockefeller style, with leeks and white wine, or with brie and champagne. ch.

Onboard pricing is $24.99 per adult for lunch and $54.99 per adult for dinner. Children cost $12.99 each. It is also included with any of the specialty dining packages.

Solarium bridge wings 


Like other Oasis Class ships, there are two bridge wings that extend over the edge of the ship located in the Symphony of the Seas' Solarium. The wings offer guests a more tranquil spot to watch sailaway or a jaw-dropping sunset at sea. 

To access the bridge wings, head to the very front of the Solarium. There will be one bridge wing on the port side of the ship, while the other is located on the starboard side. If you are wearing a dress or loose blouse, be prepared to hold it down; it can get pretty windy out there, especially during sea days!

Best spot to view "Flight: Dare to Dream"


Flight: Dare to Dream is a Royal Caribbean Productions original that focuses on chronicling humanity's fascination with flying. It is one of the most ambitious stage productions to date, as Clayton C. Anderson, an Astronaut who lived in space for 167 days and completed 38 hours and 28 minutes over six spacewalks in two missions, helped curate the musical's set design. 

Based on recommendations from the show's tech team, as well as personal experience, the best place to sit is in the sixth and seventh rows in the center of the theater. These rows provide the perfect vantage point for the show's impressive finale. 

Like all onboard shows, reservations tend to go fast. Be sure you snag one as soon as you are able to! 

Are you planning a cruise on Symphony of the Seas? Check out more of our best tips & tricks:

10 things Royal Caribbean got right with Symphony of the Seas

28 Jan 2023

Symphony of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean's newest and biggest cruise ships in the fleet. Offering large open decks, plenty of things to do onboard, and lots of dining choices, its hard not to love everything Symphony of the Seas has to offer.

Currently the second largest ship at sea (a title held for close to four years until Wonder of the Seas entered service in 2022), there's a lot to love about the Symphony of the Seas.

As the fourth Oasis Class ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet, you can expect to find many fan-favorites, including the zip line, two FlowRiders, AquaTheater shows, and Rising Tide Bar. 

The ship is still relatively new, as it entered service in 2018. It is 1,188 feet long and weights a total of 228,081 gross tons (which is more than the weight of 17,000 African elephants)! 


Here's what Royal Caribbean did right with the Symphony of the Seas and what you can look forward to on your next sailing.

1. Refreshed Solarium 


The Solarium onboard the Symphony of the Seas is an adults-only retreat located at the forward of the ship on deck 15. It features a one-of-a-kind art installation that's comprised of thousands of dichroic acrylic elements. At night, it's lit up with a combination of pinks, blues, and greens. 

Plus, they brought back the Solarium pool after receiving feedback on its removal on the Harmony of the Seas.

Additionally, the Solarium Bistro received a major update compared to older Oasis Class ships. The venue is two-stories, with the top half home to Hooked Seafood. 

2. New specialty dining options 


The Symphony of the Seas was the first Oasis Class ship to replace Sabor on the Boardwalk with Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade. Unlike other specialty dining restaurants, Playmakers is only offered a la carte. You can purchase a side of fries for only $3, while their infamous "Touchdown Sundae" runs at $12 (but it is served in a collectable Playmakers football helmet bowl!).

Inside, you’ll find 31 big-screen televisions! 

If you’ve sailed on the Harmony of the Seas, you’ll notice that this venue replaced the Starbucks on the Boardwalk. The kiosk returned to the Royal Promenade.

Playmakers can also be found on the Wonder of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas after her refurbishment in 2019. 

Symphony was also the first ship in the fleet to receive Hooked Seafood, which serves up fresh New England-style seafood. If you're a fan of oysters, you'll appreciate how you can try oysters three different ways: Rockefeller style, with leeks and white wine, or with brie and champagne. 

Onboard pricing is $24.99 per adult for lunch and $54.99 per adult for dinner. Children cost $12.99 each. 

Hooked is also available on the Navigator of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas. 

3. Sugar Beach


Another new addition to this Oasis Class ship's Boardwalk's was Sugar Beach, and it has now become a staple on many ships within the fleet. 

Inside, you can find more than 200 different candies. Guests can also purchase ice cream here and create their own concoction by adding whatever toppings they desire. 

Note that it is not a complimentary venue. 

4. "Hidden" piano staircase


Found on deck 15 leading up the to Windjammer Marketplace on deck 16, the piano staircase plays musical notes when stepped on, and guests can create their own tune by walking up and down them! It's entertaining for all ages. 

5. Entertainment options 

HiRO SOTS Aquatheatre

Royal Caribbean is known for their complimentary onboard entertainment that make guests wonder "how am I on a cruise ship?". 

Guests will surely ponder that after watching an adaptation of the broadway musical Hairspray, which features many songs from the original production, as well as jaw-dropping set designs. 

1977, the ice skating show onboard, begins with light-emitting drones before taking viewers on a journey through time to save Her Majesty's Crown Jewels. 

Passengers onboard any Oasis Class ship should make sure that they see an AquaTheatre show, as divers plunge into the deepest pool at sea from up to 30 feet. The show onboard the Symphony of the Seas is HiRO and combines technology, futuristic choreography, unexpected stunts, and acrobatics. 

Finally, Flight: Dare to Dream is a Royal Caribbean Productions original that focuses on chronicling humanity's fascination with flying. It is one of the most ambitious stage productions to date, as the design was informed by Clayton C. Anderson, an Astronaut who lived in space for 167 days and completed 38 hours and 28 minutes over six spacewalks in two missions. 

6. Central Park's abundance of plants


Did you know that there are about 20,700 lush tropical plants in Symphony of the Seas' Central Park neighborhood? In comparison, Harmony of the Seas only has 12,000

It takes a special and intricate system of irrigation, fertilization, lighting, and drainage to help sustain such a unique park.

No wonder there's a landscape specialist who works with a team of three horticulturalists onboard! 

Read more: the flourishing garden on Symphony of the Seas has over 20,000 plants, and it's my favorite spot onboard

7. Return of Ultimate Abyss and Perfect Storm


Both the Ultimate Abyss and Perfect Storm can be found onboard the Symphony of the Seas. 

The Ultimate Abyss debuted on the Harmony of the Seas in 2016, while the Perfect Storm waterslides launched after the Liberty of the Seas' dry dock in 2016.

These added thrills immediately became beloved by adventurous sailors. 

From the aft of deck 15, guests can plunge down ten stories on the Ultimate Abyss, one of the tallest slides at sea, and end up on the Boardwalk. Note that it has a minimum height of 44 inches. 

The Perfect Storm features two twisting slides called Cyclone and Typhoon. The pair of slides let passengers race against each other to the bottom. Supercell, the third waterslide, sends riders down a few turns before released into a bowl slide and ends with a plunge pool. 

All slides descend three decks and jet over the Central Park neighborhood that's ten decks below!

8. Nicely appointment accommodations 

Symphony of the Seas interior cabin

Oasis Class staterooms received a major upgrade on the Harmony of the Seas, and Royal Caribbean kept the new design on the Symphony of the Seas. 

There are five main categories of staterooms onboard: studio, interior, ocean view, balcony, and suite. There is a stateroom for cruisers of all budgets, party sizes, and preferences.

Basic amenities in the staterooms include mini-bars (coolers, not refrigerators), safes, phones, and flat-screen televisions. In the bathroom, guests will find cups that can be replaced daily, towels, hand soap, and body wash. 

There are also at least three plugs, as well as two USB outlets, so you never have to worry about not being able to charge your devices!

9. First-ever Ultimate Family Suite

Heads were turned when Royal Caribbean launched the Ultimate Family Suite onboard the Symphony of the Seas in 2018. 

It offers a family experience unlike any other, and you can think of it like a kid's paradise, complete with a personal in-suite slide, video gaming room, life-sized Connect Four, and air hockey table.

While the kids play hard, the adults can relax hard in the Jacuzzi located on the balcony that overlooks the Sports Deck. Plus, they won't have to worry about planning a thing, as the suite comes with a dedicated Royal Genie who takes care of coordinating daily activities and one-of-a-kid experiences.

There is only one of these suites available onboard and only three in the entire world, with the other two on the Wonder of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas. Due to their exclusively, they tend to book up very quickly as soon as new itineraries are released. 

10. Running track alcoves 


Located on deck five in the forward of the ship, guests can find two alcoves off the side of the track. Here you can find shuffleboard, comfortable seating, play ping pong, and, of course, get some phenomenal ocean views!

You'll rarely find these alcoves busy, so it's a great place to escape outdoors if you're hoping to avoid crowds. 

Don't worry, the aft seating on the track is still available for those wishing to soak in some of those sea day wake views. 

I stayed in a $1,400 stateroom on Symphony of the Seas — see what my room on this cruise ship looked like

21 Jan 2023

I sailed onboard Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas and stayed in the cheapest stateroom available. 


Making her grand entrance in 2018, Symphony of the Seas is the fourth ship in the cruise line's Oasis class and held the title of largest cruise ship in the world until the debut of the Wonder of the Seas in early 2022. 

Symphony of the Seas sailing away

For $1,400 (including port fees and gratuities), I stayed in a guaranteed cabin, which means that I wasn't assigned my cabin until a few weeks prior to departure.  


This was my first time sailing in an interior stateroom. I've had balcony cabins on all of my previous cruises, so I was nervous as to how I'd adjust to no natural light at all. 

Read moreInterior vs Balcony staterooms


My interior cabin on Symphony of the Seas was only 149 square feet; however, it was one of the most contemporary feeling staterooms I have stayed in.


As I was sailing alone, I opted to keep the two beds together. While this was perfectly fine for me, I could see why a family might want to separate them into two twin-sized beds to help make the space feel more open and create a pathway in the middle of the stateroom. 


There were a total of four American outlets in the stateroom: three by the desk and one by the left side of the bed, where there was also a light switch present. As a solo traveler, this was plenty of power for me! I also appreciated being able to turn off all the stateroom lights from the comfort of the bed. 


Plus, the desk area also had one European outlet socket, as well as two USB plugs. 


There was a telephone located on the other nightstand, but I would have preferred if it was hung somewhere in the room! The phone was so large that it made that a non-functioning nightstand. There was just enough room for a phone and pair of glasses.


Surprisingly, there was an abundance of storage in this cabin. The dresser contained three empty drawers, a fourth that contained a box of tissues and room service information, and fifth that was home to the hairdryer.


There were also two closets, one on each side of the rather large couch. One had five free shelves, with the sixth being occupied by the safe. There were two additional drawers at the bottom. 


The other closet was just for hanging garments and contained eighteen hangers.  


Above the desk was a single glass shelf. I didn't find it to be that wide, but it was a great place to keep my sunglasses and other miscellaneous items throughout the week. When I first entered my stateroom, the desk was full of details regarding my cruise vacation, such as showtimes, Crown & Anchor information, as well as two masks. 


The large mirror above the desk was illuminated with a ring light, which was a great touch to this interior stateroom. It also provided great lighting for my makeup each morning!


Inside the dresser's large cabinet was a mini-fridge. I found that my drinks were always kept cold, despite it saying that it was a cooler and not a refrigerator. It had three selves that could be moved and adjusted according to your preferences, as well as a single shelf on the side. 


As expected, the bathroom inside of my cruise stateroom was small; however, I found it to be modern and clean. There was a shocking amount of counter space, as well as three shelves to the side of the mirror. Additional storage was available underneath the sink, too. On the back of the door were two hooks for wet towels and swimsuits. 


Inside of the shower, there's a soap dispenser that distributes Royal Caribbean's signature bath scent: Salt + Breeze. I was disappointed that there was only one small ledge in of the shower. If I was traveling with one more person, it would have been a tight squeeze to fit all of our products there. 


The water pressure inside of my cabin was neither awful nor great; it was just okay. I did have issues with the temperature that never got resolved. In the mornings, it was nearly impossible to get any hot water. Sometimes, I had to wait twenty-five minutes for the water to heat up to lukewarm! In the evenings, I had the opposite problem: the temperature was scalding hot.


At the entrance, there was a key slot that powered on all the electricity within the cabin to preserve energy. My room steward left a key in there all week, though. Additionally, there was a magnet that I placed on the exterior of my door which alerted the staff when I wanted my room to be tended to. If I wanted to be left alone, there was an option for that, too. 


My stateroom was located on the forward of deck 7 in a "secret" hallway full of other interior cabins in between the port and starboard sides of the ship. It felt like a maze when I was first trying to locate my stateroom. However, I appreciated how there wasn't another cabin door directly next to mine.


I am used to having a cabin located near the mid-ship when sailing, so being located all the way at a single end was a new experience for us. While the forward elevator bank was somewhat close, the aft was quite a walk from where I was located. 


For $200 each day, I was satisfied with my interior stateroom. I was worried that the lack of natural sunlight would cause me to feel cramped, sleep in on accident, or that I would just flat out miss waking up to an ocean view.


If I was sailing with another person, the cost would have dropped to a little over $125 per person, per day, including all taxes, port fees and gratuities. Now that I know what a great value interior staterooms can be, I'll consider them more for my personal travels!


The flourishing garden on Symphony of the Seas has over 20,000 plants, and its my favorite spot onboard

10 Jan 2023

When Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas debuted in 2009, it was the first cruise ship in the world to feature a lush, open-air garden. Named after New York City's Central Park, it's one of seven (or eight, if sailing on the Wonder of the Seas) distinct neighborhoods onboard Oasis Class ships, and despite the concept being over a decade old, it is still one of the most beloved spaces on any cruise ship.


The other neighborhoods are Entertainment Place, the Royal Promenade, Vitality Spa and Fitness Center, Boardwalk, Youth Zone, and the Pool and Sports Zone. Aside from the spa, they all tend to have a more energetic atmosphere, which makes Central Park's peaceful nature stand out.

An upscale public area situated in midship on deck 8, Central Park offers restaurants, high-end shopping, and tons of plants, over 20,700 to be exact (talk about a Royal Caribbean delivering a WOW factor!). It even has more plants than the Great Pavilion Exhibition at the Chelsea Flower Show!

It's a place that makes you wonder if you're actually on a cruise ship. 

However, you’ll never truly forget that you’re on one of the largest cruise ships in the world, as the laughter and music from the pool deck can be heard throughout the day, albeit at a lower volume than the top deck. All three waterslides jet over the edge, and you can look up to see the rushing of water with guests passing through.

Here's why Central Park is my favorite neighborhood onboard the Symphony of the Seas.

A floating garden at sea 


As soon as you walk into Central Park, you are greeted with vine-wrapped metal columns. As you continue along the pathways, you'll hear recordings of birds, crickets, and other animals while you pass tropical foliage, seasonal flowers, shrubs, and a variety of different trees, including young Indian Laurel Figs, Shady Ladies, and Buddhist Pines, all of which are housed in steel decks.

Signage helps to clearly identify the difference species of trees and plants, as well as their scientific botanical names, origins, and other fun facts that might come in handy during trivia one day.


While onboard the Symphony of the Seas, I learned that the Star Jasmine, an evergreen vine originally from China, climbs 40 feet up tree trucks, and Purple Showers are often referred to as “Mexican Petunias” due to the shape of their 5-petal flowers.


Another fun fact is that the Dwarf Umbrella Tree, which is originally from Eastern Asia, can be used as a herbal treatment to provide relief for arthritis because the extracts serve as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent.


When you reach the middle of the park, you’ll find "green walls" covered in flowering vines and ferns that are five decks, or twenty-five feet, high, as well as beautiful fern-covered trellises (a great photo-op!). 

During the day, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll see one of the three horticulturalists maintaining the garden’s plants. On the second day of my seven-day itinerary, I saw two tending to the Croton shrub outside of the Cartier store around 10:30 in the morning. 

What you won’t see, however, is the intricate system of irrigation, fertilization, lighting, and drainage that's required to help sustain such a unique venture. There's even a landscape specialist onboard! 

Onboard "getaway"

Benched Nook SOTS Central Park

If you’re looking to find a place of sanctuary on your cruise, look no further than Central Park.

You won't find many rowdy children hanging out here during the day, as it lacks family-friendly activities, like the pool deck's Splashaway Bay or the Boardwalk's carousel.

Many guests find it to be an ideal place to escape from the crowds and settle down in the plush seating underneath the protruding glass-arched domes with a good book. 4 benched nooks, rocking chairs, and numerous tables are also available. Guests can also play a game or two of chess to test their strategic skills. 

I've also seen passengers playing with a deck of cards!

You're never far away from a cup of coffee or tea to sip on, as the Park Café provides both during their breakfast and lunch services. 

As this was my first work cruise, I found that working in Central Park was a great way to balance getting my assignments done and making sure that I was still getting some of the traditional cruise experience. I didn’t find it as distracting as the Royal Promenade, Boardwalk, or pool deck.

Plus, I was always guaranteed a seat, usually completely to myself. While it would have been nice to type away with some ocean views, I certainly didn't want to spend time scouring for a seat everyday. 

Top-tier dining and bar options, especially at night


You can find many of the specialty dining restaurants onboard in Central Park, including Chops Grille, Jamie’s Italian, and 150 Central Park, which provide guests with a more intimate dining experience compared to the Main Dining Room. 

Plus, if the weather permits, you can choose to dine al fresco, which I highly recommend during dinner, as the evening is when Central Park’s true beauty comes out. In the center of the park, the neighborhood is lit up by the pink and blue hues of the Royal Promenade that escape through the raised glass domes, while the sides are lit by street lamps. You can enjoy listening to the relaxing live classical music on the guitar and piano. 

SOTS Central Park at Night

At night, faux candles are places on tables that foster a more upscale, and perhaps romantic, environment, which is complimented by the increased ability to hear animal sounds due to minimal noise from the pool deck. Something on my bucket list is an adults-only date night in one of the speciality restaurants!

Central Park SOTS At Night2

Central Park also houses Park Café, one of my favorite complimentary dining options. I love the made-to-order salads and, of course, their infamous roast beef sandwich. I also think they have some of the better quick-service dessert options onboard, like this delicious blueberry streusel cake. 


It’s a great place to grab breakfast, too. I find that it’s much quieter than other breakfast options, like the Windjammer or even Main Dining Room, which sometimes had a 20+ minute wait on my sailing. I also like how they have fewer options than some of the other larger breakfast venues; I have fewer decisions to make before having my morning cup of coffee!

Additionally, there are three distinct bars in Central Park: Trellis Bar, Vintages, and the Rising Tide Bar. Even if you are eating dinner elsewhere, they’re still great places to grab a pre-dinner drink and soak in the nighttime ambiance of the neighborhood. 



While kids and teens may find Central Park's relaxed atmosphere to be a bit boring compared to the thrills available elsewhere on the ship, it's a great place for adults to escape and "connect" with nature. If you're onboard during a port day, you almost feel as though you are in your own personal oasis! 

Regardless of whether you want to spend extended time in the neighborhood or just walk through on your way from the aft of the ship, Central Park should be be on anyone's list of "things to do" while sailing on an Oasis Class ship.

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas restarts cruises after Omicron cancellations

01 Feb 2022

Three weeks after Royal Caribbean was forced to cancel three sailings on Symphony of the Seas, the ship is back in service.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-up April 1, 2018 | Royal Caribbean Blog

In early January, Royal Caribbean announced four of its cruise ships would either cancel cruises or remain out of service for a while longer due to a rise in Covid-19 cases, largely due to the Omicron variant.

On Saturday, the first of these ships returned to service without any further delays.

Symphony of the Seas departed PortMiami on a 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary that includes a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

According to reports from onboard Symphony, there are 2,937 passengers on this sailing.

When Royal Caribbean cancelled the Symphony sailings, it said it did so, "as a result of the ongoing COVID-related circumstances around the world, and in an abundance of caution."

Royal Caribbean will take delivery of Symphony of the Seas on March 23 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean International Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, Mark Tamis, told The Points Guy last month the cancelled cruises gave the cruise line an opportunity to take care of crew members and give passengers a better experience, "“One is [that] crew who test positive and are asymptomatic are able to serve their quarantine period on one of these ships."

"It also allows us to have these additional crew members who then can supplement the crew who are not able to work for those 10 days in order to make sure that we’re able to deliver a great vacation and a full experience — all the while protecting our guests, our crew, the ships and the places that we visit, as we have done since our healthy return to service."

Read moreWhat it's like to be on a cruise ship quarantining crew members

When Symphony of the Seas ceased operations, she was the largest cruise ship in the world.  Today, she has been supplanted by sister vessel Wonder of the Seas.

A look around Symphony of the Seas

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Robert Jaworski is onboard Symphony of the Seas and shared photos from around the ship.

Other ships returning soon

Jewel of the Seas will sail from Cyprus in July | Royal Caribbean Blog

When Royal Caribbean cancelled cruises on four ships last month, they did so in order to minimize the overall impact to the fleet.

The four ships included:

  • Vision of the Seas sailings through March 7, 2022
  • Serenade of the Seas sailings from Jan. 8–March 5, 2022
  • Jewel of the Seas sailings from Jan. 9–Feb. 12, 2022
  • Symphony of the Seas sailings from Jan. 8–22, 2022

Serenade of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

With Symphony back in service, the other three ships will also return to service in the next month or so.

Serenade of the Seas was already scheduled to go in for a short dry dock, so Royal Caribbean combined her cancelled cruises with the upcoming refurbishment.

Vision of the Seas had not yet returned to service when her debut was pushed back.

Symphony of the Seas 2021 cruise recap

28 Nov 2021

Mr. Mills and I just returned from Symphony of the Seas, and boy do I have so much to share!

Symphony of the Seas Live Blog - Day Six - Nassau | Royal Caribbean Blog

Since it was our first one back post-COVID, we knew this cruise would be different, but we had no idea how special it would end up being. This trip will definitely be in our memories for a long time. 

Pre-cruise testing & covid protocols

Protocols for Independence out of Galveston - Royal Caribbean Discussion - Royal Caribbean Blog

As with any post-covid cruise, it must start with the test. We opted for CVS rapid antigen tests, and it was simple.

Not only did it cost us nothing, it took us almost no time at all. We have several CVS stores around us, and we both got online two weeks prior to our test, found a time for test day (2 days prior to Embarkation), and we were set.

CVS has you drive up and park in a designated spot, then they call you when ready. You walk into a little double sided booth (it reminded me of a confession stall). The technician takes some information, and then passes you the swab, and instructs you how to test yourself.

Royal Caribbean will now require passengers to get a Covid test no more than 2 days before their cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

I had my results within an hour. It was very easy, painless, and though I was anxious about results--even though I had no reason to be--getting that negative result meant I was clear to cruise!

Onboard, we didn’t struggle too much with the covid protocols. I thought I’d struggle with wearing a mask everywhere since I work from home and don’t have to wear it all day normally, but it soon became second nature.

I did trade out the heavy cloth one I brought from home for a more athletic fit Royal Caribbean mask from the gift shop.  Royal Caribbean also provides a medical grade mask in your state room each day, if you’d rather wear one of those.

There are plenty of vaccinated only spots on the ship, where masks are not required, and if you’re sitting at a table with food and/or drink, you do not have to wear a mask there either.

Crew will serve you at almost everywhere that used to be self-serve:  ie the Windjammer, drink stations, condiment stations, etc. There are lots more hand sanitizing stations, and crew will remind you to use them! I think that was the toughest part, because I always had something in my hands. I’m going to have to find a better bag for onboard, but otherwise there really weren’t any changes I couldn’t handle.


Our cruise was just under 50% full, around 3200 people. This meant that though the Windjammer was open for breakfast and lunch, it was not open for dinner.

We were also told, by some folks that were doing a back to back into our week, that there had been a promotion announced prior, to try to get guests to stay on board. I didn’t see anything about that for our sailing, and they were expecting to open the Windjammer for dinner the next week, so they must have been expecting a larger capacity for the holiday.

We noticed that there were very few children on board, as well as a much lower volume of international guests. 

Dining reviews

We only ate at two specialty dining restaurants this time around:  Chops and Izumi. Chops was outstanding in service and quality. You really cannot go wrong there, and that’s why it is a must if you’re going to do one specialty restaurant. 

We actually had Izumi twice: once for dinner with our Chops +1 dining package. We had the option of doing this a la carte, with a $35 per person credit, or there is a new option of a pre-fixe menu.

I think this is a very good change, as it fits in more with the dining packages. You could choose 1 appetizer, two mains, and a dessert. Unfortunately, I was extremely seasick and did not get to enjoy this at all. 

Thankfully, Mr. Mills had booked a Sushi and Sake tasting for later in the week, which I very much enjoyed! I highly recommend doing this activity if you are a sushi fan. There were four courses each paired with a different sake, plus mochi dessert.  

Things new to you

This cruise was originally scheduled for the same week last year, but was cancelled due to Covid. We lifted and shifted to the exact same cruise for 2021, and so began the agonizing wait. Our itinerary changed from San Juan and Labadee to St. Maarten and St. Thomas.

Through it all, we chatted not so patiently with the fellow cruisers in the Facebook group created for our cruise week. We’ve joined such groups before, but this was the most active cruise group we’ve ever been a part of. Whether it was because we all had so much time to wait, or because we just all wanted to get back out to sea--we were already pretty close by the time embarkation day came around.

We’d planned a pub crawl for Day 2, which happened to be my birthday, and if you’ve ever had your birthday with a bunch of strangers--it was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.

Symphony of the Seas Live Blog - Day One - Embarkation Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

We started at the pub with shots, and it only got better from there. What a fantastical fun day! We were all fast friends by the end of the week, from the crawl, to the solarium cruise, bonding over lost luggage, and dancing the night away at Dazzles. I have no doubt we will be cruising with these folks again!

On the flipside, I don’t think I’ve ever been as seasick as I was on this trip. Normally, I’m a little nauseous on embarkation night as I find my sea legs. But I was sick almost every evening at dinner time. It was much windier than I’ve experienced in the Caribbean, and I’m not the only person who was feeling it--though it didn’t seem to affect Mr. Mills at all. It didn’t completely ruin my trip, but I also missed out on a lot of the after dinner activities we usually enjoy, like the piano singer in Schooner. 

Stray observations

Royal Caribbean wants your Bionic Bar drink recipe | Royal Caribbean Blog

The vaccinated areas were always busy, especially the Solarium. Even on sea days, the Solarium remained a peaceful place to go and relax, pre-covid. But on this cruise, it was as hopping as the regular pool deck, and pretty noisy. That didn't keep me from enjoying my time there, but it was certainly a different environment.

Also, the Bionic Bar has completely lost its novelty. I never saw the robots moving, and only one or two people the whole week had the Bionic Bar plastic cups. The area was mostly used as extra seating for those in the Promenade. From my observations, we've missed the personal interactions we receive with a human bartender, and while fun--a robot cannot give you that. I'll be interested to see if Royal continues to add this to their ships, or if they try another concept instead.

I’ve always been impressed with Royal Caribbean’s service, but the crew on Symphony of the Seas really was extraordinarily attentive. From the big stuff--like making sure guests were safe in an emergency--to all the little things Royal Caribbean is so good at--like remembering names, drinks, preferences. They really make a ship feel like a home away from home.

It took an eternity to make it back to sea, and like a flash it was over. Now I’m back in cold Indiana, dreaming of the next trip back out to the deep blue. Keep an eye out for more posts in the coming weeks, as I have much more to share! 

World's largest cruise ship restarts sailings today

14 Aug 2021

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas restarts cruises today after being shutdown due to the global health crisis.

Symphony may not be the first cruise ship to restart, but she is the largest cruise ship in the world, which is a significant milestone for the cruise industry.

Royal Caribbean has been slowly and methodically restarting its ships with a wealth of new health protocols and policies in place to protect guests, crew members, and the communities each of its ships visits.

All of the crew members will be fully vaccinated on Symphony of the Seas, and any unvaccinated guests (mainly children, according to the cruise line) will be subject to additional testing requirements and specific health protocols. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the ship to restart operations following a simulated voyage earlier this month, when the crew demonstrated the new protocols meet the agency's needs.

All passengers onboard, vaccinated or not, will need to take a Covid test before the cruise, and wear face masks in public areas onboard unless in a designated vaccinated-only zone.

While Symphony has a capacity of over 5,400 passengers, the ship will sail with significantly less guests while Royal Caribbean gets more ships back into service and evaluates its health protocols. While the exact number of passengers for the first sailing is not yet know, other Royal Caribbean ships have been sailing with just around 1,000 passengers at the most onboard.

Symphony of the Seas will depart today from PortMiami and embark on a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise that visits Cozumel, Costa Maya and Roatan.

Symphony is not the first Oasis Class cruise ship to restart. Sister ship Allure of the Seas was able to start up first earlier this month.  The two other Oasis Class ships will resume operations shortly as well.

Harmony of the Seas will depart Barcelona on Sunday, while Oasis of the Seas will resume operations from Cape Liberty in early September.

Some of the protocols for unvaccinated guests include being limited from accessing certain venues onboard, as well as being required to get travel insurance for sailings beginning in August.

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