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Symphony of the Seas - Live 11/24/18-12/1/18

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Come along with us as we embark on what I believe is the first 7 day Eastern Caribbean sailing on the Symphony of the Seas!! I know it is a bit early to start the thread as we do not sail until Saturday, but the rest of this week is going to be very busy so I wanted to get the intro out of the way now so I can concentrate on posting about the ship and answering any questions you all might have once we board :)

 

Hubby and I have been cruising the week after US Thanksgiving since our first RCL cruise on the Oasis back in Nov 2014. This will be our 13th RCL cruise.  We are now Diamond (89pts).  Paul and I will be travelling from Quispamsis, New Brunswick, Canada. Quispamsis is a suburb of Saint John - some of you might have stopped there on your NE/Canada sailings. Our 16yo son won't be joining us this time as he is too old to be missing school and is on the varsity basketball team so has games and tournaments that cannot be missed.

 

We travel every year during this week. We live in Canada but I work for a Fortune 500 US based company and I only interface with US clients so I always get Thanksgiving and Black Friday off - it gives us a nice cushion of two days before the cruise to do our Xmas shopping in Florida without me having to take extra vacation.  We also find the prices are a lot more palatable the week after vs week of Thanksgiving. Plus you cannot use your free cruise through the casino during a holiday, so Casino Royale kind of made the decision for us!

 

My husband and I are both Prime members in the Casino. (I honestly think my level is a mistake and I do not think I will qualify again next year, but I will take it!). As soon as we knew we each had a free cruise, we knew we wanted to book the Symphony.  We booked this sailing and then the March 2 2019 sailing where my son (he turns 17 on 3/1) will be joining us.

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I know some people think it is tacky to talk about how much was spent or saved on a cruise but I enjoy knowing what others have paid so I know a good deal when I see it.  I am going to talk about money here.  If you do not like it, feel free to move along or skip ahead, it will not bother me one bit!  We are frugal travelers and would rather spend less on each vacation and travel more often.  That changed a bit for this cruise though as you will see.

 

We originally booked this sailing on 7/4/2018 as an interior room 4U (8454) which was the free category offered with our Prime membership.  All we had to pay is port fees & tax of $251.96 total.  (all of the prices I will mention are in USD because this cruise was booked through the casino and they only deal in USD).

 

 On 9/1/18 we upgraded to a Boardwalk balcony (12293) for an additional $154.  We were going to buy soda packages anyway so it was a no brainer.  We also decided to splurge and pre-purchased the Ultimate Dining package for $203USD pp.

 

A few weeks later on 9/16/18, I happened to call about upgrading again and they said we could be a Crown Loft for grand total of $1717.96.  We had already paid $405.96 so it was “only” another $1312.  We decided to cancel the dining and use that money toward the Suite and took the plunge.  As mentioned above, we are really not ones to spend more on a cabin, but the fact that we were still paying less than we would have been paying if we paid cash for an interior AND we would get access to Coastal Kitchen, Suite Lounge, have Wi-Fi included, get double points, and we were already getting drinks in casino so could avoid the drink package, it just seemed like the perfect time to try the Suite Life.  I am really looking forward to having my own bathroom with a TUB!!  The only time we ever came anywhere close to suite life was last spring when we were in the Ben & Jerry’s Sweet on the Freedom .  We enjoyed the Concierge lounge access and the rest of the Suite perks and I know they are even better on Symphony. 

 

At the time we booked, only L2s were available.  We chose 1764.  I know it has a slight obstruction off to the side, but I would rather look over the water than the sports deck.  I am also not too concerned about it sharing a wall with the lounge. I think I would be more concerned if we were on the other side sharing with the Coastal Kitchen.

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We are flying into FLL on Thursday morning and renting a car from Enterprise for both days and returning it to MIA on Saturday AM.  We have a rate of $89.03 which is more than we normally spend on a 2 day rental in Florida, but rates seem really high this year. I have been watching rates like a hawk and I have yet to see anything better than what we have booked.

 

We staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Sunrise - Sawgrass Mills on Thursday night 11/22 and the Hampton Inn Miami-Airport West on Friday night 11/23.  I know it is really weird to stay in two different hotels, but hubby is a Hilton Diamond member and will be one stay shy of maintaining his status if we don’t split it. 

 

Our plan for Thursday & Friday is to get all of our Xmas shopping done so we will be hitting Sawgrass, likely on both days. Sawgrass opens at 10AM on Thursday.  That is terrible for all of the retail employees who will be missing their Thanksgiving dinners. As a tourist who is looking to shop, I am pleased they will be open, but I still feel guilty about it. (not guilty enough to stop me).  

 

I am hoping Smoke BBQ in Fort Lauderdale will be open either Thursday or Friday.  We found it on out last trip and it was delicious! If you have any other BBQ recommendations in Fort Lauderdale or Miami, please feel free to share

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 We have decided to avoid the MDR this trip and originally thought we would stick to the Windjammer but that has now been replaced with the Coastal Kitchen 🙂  I love that it is right around the corner from our room.  Eggs Benedict for breakfast every morning works for me.

 

We normally book the Alcohol drink packages but are forgoing it this time because we both have drinks covered in the casino and we will have access to the Suite Lounge for wine & beer from 11-11 plus cocktails there during happy hour, our 3 free diamond drinks a night and then the diamond lounge access during happy hours. We are also bringing wine onboard and will just pay out of pocket for whatever else we want to buy.  It will be a bit strange for me not being on the package, but I think I have enough alcohol access to keep me covered lol. 

We do not have any shore excursions planned and will be playing it by ear at the ports. We will likely just walk around the shops in the port area then get back onboard. We might not get off at all at some of the ports (ie Nassau).

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So I think that is about it for now.  Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions about the ship and I will do my best to answer them once onboard!  I am planning on taking lots of pictures and will try to do videos as well.

 

5 more sleeps!!!!!

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Enjoy your trip.  Awesome deal on all those upgrades.  Brother and I booked this trip shortly after itineraries for Symphony released but changed to sail Anthem a few weeks ago.  Wouldn't have been able to make this one but ended up sailing anyways.  Will be following along.

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Looking forward to following! I'll be getting on when you come back. Safe travels and have FUN!

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Wow, congratulations on such an awesome upsell!

 

Looking forward to following your review.  We will be getting on the day you get off.

 

Safe travels and good luck with the Christmas shopping :classic_biggrin:

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Wow, what a great deal! Enjoy the suite! I am looking forward to your review as I also will be embarking the day you leave. I hope your shopping goes well. I'll be out myself. Thankfully none of our stores open until 5:00. I really wish they would wait until Friday, but I do not see it happening. Enjoy your cruise!

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Thanks for doing this review! I will definitely be following since we will be sailing this itinerary on Symphony this coming April. 

 

Sounds like you got a great deal on your suite upgrade! I may have to start spending time in the casino if it gets me an upgrade like yours! 

 

Good luck with your shopping. 🎅  Hope you are able to find everything you are looking for.

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My mom and I will be on the sailing after yours, so excited! We had an L2 on Allure and loved it, we actually really enjoyed overlooking the sports deck and we booked a Central Park balcony on Symphony because we like overlooking something besides the ocean. I'm tempted to call and see if we can upgrade but I think Suites are sold out for our cruise. Will you be able to post the Compasses? Looking forward to your review, and enjoy your cruise 🙂

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10 hours ago, Firegirl042 said:

Wow, what a great deal! Enjoy the suite! I am looking forward to your review as I also will be embarking the day you leave. I hope your shopping goes well. I'll be out myself. Thankfully none of our stores open until 5:00. I really wish they would wait until Friday, but I do not see it happening. Enjoy your cruise!

I'm on the 12/1 sailing too, and also from Virginia!

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13 hours ago, Canadian Disney Mom said:

 

 On 9/1/18 we upgraded to a Boardwalk balcony (12293)

 

I'll be curious to how the boarding in Miami goes for you. It seems all of the Symphony reviews I have read that started in Miami were all suite or Pinnacle cruisers. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. :classic_biggrin:)    Since I'll be boarding in 157 days in just a balcony (pending 2nd miracle upgrade) I'll be curious as to how well that goes.    I'll be watching every Symphony review between now and May 2019, so I'll enjoy anything you post and I know how to skip ahead on things I don't want to read.  Oh, I'm sure you will find time to enjoy your cruise while reporting, so no more special requests from me. 

 

 

Now I am laughing at myself as 2 posts later you upgraded to a suite!   Oh, the sin of replying without reading every message first!

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11 hours ago, perfect match said:

 

 

Sounds like you got a great deal on your suite upgrade! I may have to start spending time in the casino if it gets me an upgrade like yours! 

 

 

 

I just don't like casino's so that won't happen for me. I've often told people, I would have more fun walking in a casino and throwing $100 at the wall than I would gambling.    Maybe if I threw $100 at Guest Services that might have better luck. 

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1 hour ago, BillOh said:

 

I'll be curious to how the boarding in Miami goes for you. It seems all of the Symphony reviews I have read that started in Miami were all suite or Pinnacle cruisers. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. :classic_biggrin:)    Since I'll be boarding in 157 days in just a balcony (pending 2nd miracle upgrade) I'll be curious as to how well that goes.    I'll be watching every Symphony review between now and May 2019, so I'll enjoy anything you post and I know how to skip ahead on things I don't want to read.  Oh, I'm sure you will find time to enjoy your cruise while reporting, so no more special requests from me. 

 

 

Now I am laughing at myself as 2 posts later you upgraded to a suite!   Oh, the sin of replying without reading every message first!

Yes I am looking forward to trying out the new terminal.  We are in a suite so the experience might be a bit skewed as far as setting realistic expectations, but I will try to scope out the C&A seating areas as well to see what they are like. I will try to get pics too.

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Looking forward to following along.  We'll be on Symphony in March.  Ship looks amazing!  How incredible on the room "upgrades" from an interior to Crown Loft. And on Symphony, that's an incredible deal, and all the perks and all!  Safe travels (and good luck with the shopping...nice timing with catching Black Friday)

 

As an aside, how did you find the B&J sweet?  We have one coming up (Independence) and like your comment, closest thing we'll get to a suite.

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11 hours ago, LuCruise said:

 

As an aside, how did you find the B&J sweet?  We have one coming up (Independence) and like your comment, closest thing we'll get to a suite.

It was awesome for what you get for the price!  There are some details on my thread from the sailing.  Forgive the repetitive nature of the intro!

 

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14 hours ago, BillOh said:

 

I just don't like casino's so that won't happen for me. I've often told people, I would have more fun walking in a casino and throwing $100 at the wall than I would gambling.    Maybe if I threw $100 at Guest Services that might have better luck. 

Your luck in the casino, and desire not to spend time there, sounds exactly like DH and me. We will go to a different deck rather than walk through the casino to get from one end of the ship to the other.

 

I've never tried throwing money at Guest Services! 

 

I do have to admit, though, that a certain member of our roll call has dragged me in there to use our free spins! Yes, she did have to tell me exactly what to do......You don't think she will see this, do you?  😁

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