Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas—the largest cruise ship now sailing—has made its way to Port Miami. Recommend’s managing editor had the opportunity to set sail on a 2-day preview cruise to see all that’s in store on this 16 deck ship.
First, let’s start off by saying that two days is not nearly enough to experience all the action that’s going on aboard this ship from a variety of restaurants to lounges with live music ranging from rock to salsa to various live shows, slides, laser tag, arcades, and more there’s definitely enough to keep your guests occupied and entertained during their sailing.
We sat down to chat with Vikki Freed, Royal Caribbean International’s senior v.p. of sales and she told us the one negative on the ship was that there are more restaurants than what a guest can try during their 1-week sailing. That doesn’t sound like too much of a negative to us. And, we can attest that every restaurant, pizza stand, or hot dog vendor that we tried definitely lived up to quality and taste.
We also asked Freed what her favorite thing or activity on board was and she replied, “That’s like asking who is my favorite kid. I can’t answer that. I’ll tell you entertainment then the food then the accomodations.” We definitely agree with Freed on that.
But if we had to pick a few favorites, here’s what makes our top six list.
1. Dine at Jamie’s Italian by Jaime Oliver
This restaurant is an added value, as in it’s not included with the sailing price. But, definitely encourage your clients to splurge on dining here one night as they won’t be disappointed. All of the pasta is made fresh daily on board and the food is delicious. Here, guests will dine on Tuscan-inspired dishes crafted by one of Britain’s most famous chefs. The family-style dishes won’t disappoint—order the Famous Plank, a shareable appetizer piled high with cured meats, pickles and tasty cheeses—this was a hit at our table. I ordered the truffle tagliatelle made with fresh foraged black truffles, parmesan and nutmeg—absolutely delicious. Rates for lunch ate $27 pp, while dinner is $55 pp.
2. Take in a Show or Two
The entertainment on board was definitely not cheesy, it was Broadway standard of entertainment, and great for the whole family. As I was walking out of “Hairspray” a little girl was running up the aisle and said to her parents, “That was fun!” And, I have to agree. The lively music, costumes and performance will have guests bopping in their seats.
But, that’s not the only hit onboard. Royal Caribbean’s “Flight” was absolutely astonishing and my favorite performance that I’ve seen on any cruise ship. This ode to flight through the years starting in the future with a flight to mars and ending with the Wright Brothers’ first flight will give guests chills. There’s also a fabulous tribute to the fallen astronauts, that’s both touching and a great teachable moment for kids in the audience. Another teachable moment is the women’s role in flight during WWII portrayed in the performance. Suggest your clients sit up front, where they’ll get a surprise of the Wright Brothers’ plane taking flight right over their heads.
3. Laugh til You Cry
The comedy show, though not appropriate for the whole family, as it’s an adult’s only show is a great way to end the night. Suggest your clients catch a late night show after dinner or after taking in Hairspray or Flight. They’ll laugh so hard they’ll cry.
4. Central Park & Coney Island
We can’t pick our favorite between these two distinct areas. First, Central Park, is lively and upbeat by day, yet relaxing and romantic by night. This promenade is filled with restaurants and bars perfect for an evening onboard. Suggest guests arrive to their dinner reservation a little early as they might be surprised with an impromptu jazz performance in the terrace. We were met with a solo guitar player who serenaded us as we waited for our reservation. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail and the candle lit atmosphere.
Coney Island is as lively onboard as it is in New York. Here, guests are first greeted with a grand carousel. There’s also an arcade with plenty of games to choose from (one of two arcades onboard), a sports bar playing the game of the day, a candy shop, a Johnny Rockets, a hot dog stand, and a rock climbing wall. This is also the landing spot for those who take the plunge on the Ultimate Abyss slide from deck 15. This will definitely be the “it” place for families to hang out on sailing days. And at night, suggest guests catch a show of the onboard water performance, “Hiro,” filled with acrobatics and more.
5. Slides, Slides and more Slides
There are plenty of water slides on board, plus the Ultimate Abyss which hangs over the side of the ship and lands in “Coney Island”. During our press briefing we learned that Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, designed the slides with his own kids in mind. He told us he wanted to scare them when they went on the slides. However, during our sailing we didn’t only see kids making the lines to be thrilled, but plenty of adults, too.
6. The Ultimate Family Suite
Ultimate doesn’t even begin to describe this insane 2-story suite. Take everything you think of about a cruise suite, and throw it out the window. This is a kid’s paradise, and maybe some adults, too. The Ultimate Family Suite is where you want to be booking those luxury family clients. If you’re wondering what it offers, it’s probably easier to say what it doesn’t offer, as it offers just about everything. There’s an entertainment system perfect for a relaxing night in with a movie, a kids’s room with it’s own bathroom and two bunk beds that sleeps four with a slide that takes them down to the living area. Here, they’ll find a hammock chair, an area fit for the ultimate gamer filled with video games (this area can be closed off if the parents want a little quiet while watching a movie). There’s a coke-themed kitchenette, a dinning table that turns into a skee ball table, and LEGO wall by the video game area. Outside there’s another dining table that turns into a ping-pong table, a Jacuzzi, a ropes area for kids to play and climb, and the ultimate view. From the balcony guests can see the onboard zipline, mini golf area, slides, and more. The parents’ bedroom exudes luxury with a toned down color palette in the décor, plus it has it’s own bathroom and spacious closet, as well as a vanity area. But, that’s not all guests staying in this one-of-a-kind guestroom get, it also comes with it’s own Genie—Royal Caribbean’s version of a butler, who is there to grant the guests every wish.
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